How to Replace Running With Mountain Climber Exercises

Running outside allows you to see the scenery, while the mountain climber exercise is primarily done in one location.
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If you're thinking of replacing your running routine with mountain climber exercises, you'll be working a slightly different set of muscles. Running is an aerobic exercise that works the legs, and peripherally, the arms and torso. The mountain climber exercise, meanwhile, is an isometric exercise that targets the abdominals but also works the legs and arms. If you're ready to make the switch, perhaps the biggest challenge is ensuring that you get the same caloric burn from the new exercise as you did with the old one.

Calorie Estimate

    Wear a speedometer watch during your next run, and note the speed at which you're running in the beginning, middle and end of your run. Also note how long your regular running route takes you.

    Add the speed at the beginning, middle and end of your run together and then divide by three. This will give you a median speed that you normally run. If you want to maintain the level of fitness and body shape that you currently have, you're going to have to burn just as many calories doing the mountain climber as you currently do running. To get a more accurate estimation of the calories burned during your run, you'll need to know how fast you run.

    Calculate the number of calories you're currently burning with your running routine by entering the time of your run into the Health Status online calorie burn calculator or a similar online calculator. Look for the running speed that most closely corresponds to your running speed, enter your running time into the box next to it, and click "Calculate" near the bottom of the page. This will give you an estimate of how many calories you're burning during your run.

Mountain Climber Exercise

    Get down on the ground in a plank position facing down with your hands and toes touching the ground. The rest of your body should be in a straight position with your hands shoulder-width apart and stacked under your shoulders and your abdomen tucked in tightly to engage your core.

    Bring one knee toward your chest and rest the toe of that front foot on the ground under your chest and abdomen.

    Spring the bent front leg backward to the straight-leg position while at the same time bringing the back leg to the front, bent-leg position. Keep your hands on the floor as you alternate legs from front to back as if you are running but with your hands on the floor.

    Repeat this exercise for as many sets as it takes to burn the equal number of calories as running. According to Gold's Gym in Middletown, N.Y., doing three sets of 15 to 20 repetitions on each leg will burn about 50 calories. So if you were burning 300 calories during your regular running routine, you'd need to do 18 sets of 15 to 20 repetitions on each leg to get the equivalent calorie burn by doing mountain climber exercises.


    • If your gym has a mountain climbing machine, you can also use it to replace your running routine. This machine can burn about 300 calories in 20 minutes. To use a mountain climbing machine, place your hands on the handles at the top of the machine in an overhand or underhand position and step into the footrests. Push one hand and the opposite leg upward in a motion that mimics the movement of a rock climber. Raise the opposite leg and hand as the other side lowers and continue the movement at a rapid pace.


    • Try to do the mountain climber exercises on a gym mat or exercise floor, as those surfaces will lessen the impact of the exercise.

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