The typical way most folks do Mountain Climbers is depicted above. You get a nice solid base and start alternating legs. This movement is a fast movement. In fact, I’ve seen this done at lightning speed, throwing your heartrate up. Essentially your feet pass each other in the air as you alternate which leg is in the knee tuck position. The front foot also touches the ground and helps to keep you stable and to give you leverage to push off.
The benefits of this standard version of the Mountain Climber is in the speed. You can really get a good elevated heartrate. Not to mention the movement is using multiple muscle combinations and engages your core. However, if you are willing to give up the heart health benefits a tad in order to increase the impact on your core, this alternate version may be up your alley.
In this version, you must maintain a perfect Front Plank position with straight alignment from your feet all the way up through your head (i.e. no butt up in the air). Notice the woman above’s alignment in the top image. Also, as you see in the bottom image, your alignment is maintained even with the leg forward in the knee tuck position. Another change is how she does not put her front foot on the ground. Stability is maintained with the rear leg and the hands. The front leg stays in the air, forcing your core to engage even more to maintain balance. The core is also utilized to keep that toe-to-head alignment. Because the front foot doesn’t touch the ground, speed is sacrified. This is a slow movement, which is great for working on that core stability.
It is up to you, but whenever you see “Mountain Climbers” in one of our workouts, you have my official permission to use either version. It depends on your goal at the time. This is simplifying things, but think of “heartrate versus core.” The standard version will increase your heartrate more than the alternate, but the alternate version will engage your core more. Your call.