Climbing the Mountain Without Ever Leaving the Gym

In preparation for the PowHER Workout we’re planning this weekend in Kansas City, I’ve been hitting the weight room with a strength trainer. Because, while I do a lot of different workouts throughout a typical week and always get some body-weight exercises in there, I rarely use actual weights outside of physical therapy for my bum knee.

What’s been really cool — well, scratch that. It’s actually all been really cool. I love working with someone who’s ready to push me out of my comfort zone but never makes me feel uncomfortable about asking questions, and Trainer Matt is all that. But, in addition to giving me more knowledge and confidence with various weights, Matt’s also been teaching me some typical CrossFit-esque workouts that I can incorporate on my own in any way I see fit. And for many of them, I have lots of ideas.

We did Tabatas on the Spin bike one day — real, true Tabatas that had me shaking and weak after just eight rounds. And we did Litvis using a kettlebell and the rowing maching the next week, which I loved. But then, I showed up the following Monday morning at 6 a.m. — no better way to start the week than with an ass-kicking workout, right? — and he looked down at me with a bit of an evil look.

“Ready to climb a mountain today?” he asked.

“Mountain climbers, you mean? Yeah, I can do those all day. Bring it,” I said.

He laughed and started setting out weights, and I knew I was in for something … let’s just say special. Special enough that I want to share it with you!

For the record, he said that he’s had people finish this in 12 minutes, but has also seen people take 25 minutes. I came in at 18, and although I was absolutely gassed at the end, I feel confident that I’ll take a minute or two off by pushing a little harder in the beginning the next time I try it. And yeah, there will be a next time.

One quick tip: If possible, I’d recommend A) having this written down somewhere before you start, because in the throes of the mountain, you don’ t want to waste precious time trying to remember how many reps you need to do or what’s next, and B) set things out in order so you can quickly go from one to the next. That can be tough in a gym setting, so this workout might be a good choice for less-busy gym days.

And finally, feel free to swap things out to make it your own, but keep the general formula in mind: more complex and difficult moves go first, quicker and less labor-intensive moves go toward the end.

mountain workout

Anybody else familiar — and maybe a little bit in love — with the mountain workout? What are your favorite exercises to include? —Kristen


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  1. My workout buddies and I have tried this twice now. Is it 70 PER SIDE step ups and 80 PER SIDE mountain climbers?

  2. This might be the best news ever April. 🙂 Kristen says that it’s 70 and 80 total (so not each side)! Woot!

    —FBG Jenn