If you think you’ve exhausted the best ab exercises and feel like you need to crank up the challenge in your core workouts, then it’s time you started working with some bands.
I decided to spice up traditional mountain climbers for a week by wrapping one of the best resistance bands around my ankles and it was a game changer. If you already know how to do mountain climbers and feel confident with your form then adding in a band will increase the intensity and challenge of the move.
The band provides additional resistance against the movement of your legs, requiring the muscles to work harder throughout. If the added resistance sounds a bit too much for where you are at in your fitness journey, then you can park banded mountain climbers for now.
Instead, you might like to read about what happened when we completed standard mountain climbers every day for a week. Or, you can read on and find out what else I discovered while pushing through 75 banded mountain climbers every day for a week.
Will banded mountain climbers build ab muscles?
Banded mountain climbers can contribute to the development of ab muscles, but they are not solely responsible for achieving significant gains in this area.
While mountain climbers primarily target the core muscles, including the rectus abdominis, obliques, and transverse abdominis, their effectiveness in building visible abdominal muscles depends on various factors.
These factors include the intensity and frequency of this exercise and other forms of exercise such as weight training and cardio, overall diet, and your body composition.
How to do banded mountain climbers
Before jumping into any new exercise you should always take time to learn the proper form to ensure that the targeted muscles are effectively engaged and you don’t put yourself at risk of injury.
Here’s how to perform a banded mountain climber the right way:
- Place a resistance band around your ankles and get into a plank position. Keep your body straight and core engaged.
- Alternate driving each knee towards your chest, using the resistance band for tension.
- Maintain a steady pace, focusing on stability and control.
I did 75 banded mountain climbers every day for a week — here’s my results
I added this higher-intensity ab exercise into my routine for seven days. It's important to keep in mind that 75 reps of any exercise is a lot, so do what's right for your body. But after trying it for a week, here's what a learned.
1. It requires a lot of coordination
With standard mountain climbers, you can lose form and coordination but it’s pretty easy to get back into the flow or take a short rest and try again.
However, when it came to banded mountain climbers I had to focus my attention on keeping my feet inside the band’s loop and keeping up the momentum of the movement or else it took readjusting the band and putting me off the rhythm of the exercise.
To maintain proper form and stability, you need to synchronize the movement of your legs while resisting the tension provided by the band. This requires coordination between various muscle groups, including the core, lower body, and stabilizing muscles.
For the first few days of the challenge, I didn’t enjoy how much I had to focus on the exercise, but by day three, I was began to feel like my coordination was improving.
2. It felt good for my hips
As a keen runner, I like to incorporate hip flexor strengthening exercises into my usual fitness regime to help provide my body with greater stability while running and avoid injury.
Hence, why I’ve previously tried doing kettlebell hip marches every day for a week and still keep up with this exercise to date. I never noticed much of the function that the hips play in the mountain climber exercise. But during the banded repetitions that I did each day, I could feel the activation of my outer hip muscles.
As I drove my knees toward my chest, the resistance of the band really made it feel like my hips and surrounding muscles were having to work harder and I liked this, despite the overall pain of completing 75 reps.
3. My core needs a holiday
Since I really had to focus on my lower body and keep my legs pushing against the resistance bands, I also had to keep reminding myself to keep my core engaged. The added resistance placed more demand on my core muscles but I needed them to work hard to help stabilize the overall movement.
As I was completing 75 repetitions every day I could feel the endurance of my core muscles being tested and they certainly ached by the end of the week’s challenge. But the stronger my core is, the better it will help me withstand fatigue in other activities like running.
So, I'll be sticking with banded mountain climbers in the future, but just maybe in smaller doses from now on.
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Jessica is an experienced fitness writer with a passion for running. Her love for keeping fit and fueling her body with healthy and enjoyable food quite naturally led her to write about all things fitness and health-related. If she isn’t out testing the latest fitness products such as the latest running shoe or yoga mat for reviewing then she can be found writing news and features on the best ways to build strength, active aging, female health, and anything in between. Before then she had a small stint writing in local news, has also written for Runners World UK (print and digital), and gained experience with global content marketing agency, Cedar Communications.
Born and raised in Scotland, Jessica is a massive fan of exercising and keeping active outdoors. When at home she can be found running by the sea, swimming in it, or up a mountain. This continued as she studied and trained to become a PPA-accredited magazine journalist in Wales. And since working and living in London, she splits her time between weight training in the gym, trying new fitness classes, and finding scenic running routes. Jessica enjoys documenting this on her fitness-inspired Instagram page @jessrunshere where she loves engaging with like-minded fitness junkies.
She is a big fan of healthy cooking and loves learning more about this area with expert nutritionists she has met over the years. Jessica is a big advocate for building healthy relationships with food rather than building restrictive attitudes towards it. When she isn’t eating or running she also enjoys practicing yoga in her free time as it helps her to unwind and benefits her performance in other sports.