Mountain climbers are a type of bodyweight exercise. They are certainly convenient to do but how many calories do mountain climbers burn?
Mountain climbers are a type of calisthenics, also known as body weight, exercise. They are a convenient way to work out a wide variety of muscles at home without any equipment.
To do a mountain climber you start in a plank position. You then pull one of your knees to your chest, put that leg back to the starting position, and then do the same with your other leg and keep switching between legs. You can describe mountain climbers as high knees in a horizontal position.
Make sure you pay attention to using the right technique to avoid any injuries.
While the exact number of calories burned with mountain climbers varies from individual to individual, the average person can expect to burn around 89-152 calories per 15 minutes of heavy and vigorous mountain climbers during the workout.
This article will also show you a more detailed chart that takes multiple factors into account and ways to increase the number of calories burned with mountain climbers.
Biggest factors in calories burned with mountain climbers
A fact that many people find annoying is that the number of calories you burn while doing something like mountain climbers is hard to predict correctly. This fact can make things like weight loss feel like a guessing game.
Even so, good estimations can be a helpful starting point. By taking a few important factors into account you can make your estimations more accurate.
Some of the biggest factors that influence how many calories you burn with mountain climbers include:
- Weight: To move around your body needs energy, measured in calories. The more you weigh, the more energy you need to fuel movement.
- Body composition: Body composition is how much of your body weight is made up of different tissue. Two people can weigh the same but for one individual most of the weight can come from fat while the second individual has a lot of muscle. The reason that is important is that the same weight of muscle requires more energy than that weight in fat.
- Intensity: If you’re looking at calories burned while doing mountain climbers for a minute, how many mountain climber repetitions you do in that minute can vary and this will impact how much energy you use.
Hidden calorie burning from mountain climbers
There is something else that makes it even harder to put how many calories you burn with mountain climbers into an exact number. The calorie-burning effects of mountain climbers are not limited to during the workout.
As mentioned, how much you weigh plays a relatively big role in how many calories you burn. This doesn’t just apply to your workout, this is also the case during everyday activities.
Chances are that by doing mountain climbers you also build some muscle mass. This extra muscle mass will help you burn more calories day in, day out. It is however extremely hard to put this amount into a number.
Doing a workout at high intensity can also cause something called “afterburn”. This is basically having an increased metabolism for a while after you stop doing the exercise.
Estimations for calories burned from mountain climbers usually don’t take into account these long-term effects. So if you see that a more cardio-focused exercise is estimated to burn as many calories as mountain climbers you can presume that doing mountain climbers will be better for long-term calorie burning.
Chart of mountain climber calorie-burning estimations
The centers for disease control and prevention simplifies the number of calories burned with mountain climbers into either between 3.5-7 calories per minute or more than 7 calories per minute depending on the workout intensity (1). In reality there are tools to make more precise estimations.
To calculate calories burned during certain exercises more specifically you can use a formula with MET values. A MET value is an exercise-specific value to indicate how intense a specific type of workout is.
You can use this in the following formula: METs x 3.5 x (your body weight in kilograms) / 200 = calories burned per minute
Estimations for METs while doing mountain climbers are 4.5 for moderate-intensity mountain climbers, and 6 for heavy and vigorous mountain climbers (2). The below chart will show you estimations for heavy and vigorous mountain climbers.
Again keep in mind that these are estimations. This formula doesn’t take into account certain factors that do influence calories burned with mountain climbers.
|1 Minute||15 Minutes||30 Minutes||45 Minutes||60 Minutes|
|125 Pounds (56 kg)||6 calories||89 calories||177 calories||266 calories||354 calories|
|155 Pounds (70 kg)||7 calories||110 calories||220 calories||330 calories||439 calories|
|185 Pounds (83 kg)||9 calories||131 calories||262 calories||393 calories||524 calories|
|215 Pounds (97 kg)||10 calories||152 calories||305 calories||457 calories||610 calories|
Ways to burn more calories with mountain climbers
The number of calories burned with mountain climbers is certainly not something set in stone. There are a few ways you can increase this amount per minute of mountain climbers or per repetition.
The challenge for most people is fitting in workouts in their busy schedule. They want to burn as many calories in the least amount of time. If that’s your goal you want to burn more calories in for example one minute of mountain climbers.
A straightforward way to do this is increasing the number of repetitions you do in that minute by simply doing your mountain climbers faster. Do make sure you can still use the right technique.
On the other hand, if you want to burn more calories per mountain climber, you would do the mountain climbers slowly.
In both per minute and per mountain climber you can increase the weight on your muscles by carrying extra external weight. For example by wearing a heavy backpack or ankle weights while doing mountain climbers or even better by building extra muscle mass.
How long does it take to see results from mountain climbers?
One pound of body fat is about 3500 calories (one kg +-8000). How long it takes to see weight loss results from mountain climbers will also depend on the number of calories in your diet.
One person might eat more than the other. This might make it so they need to exercise longer or more intense to see the same weight loss results. You can even lose weight without exercising so there are many factors that influence it.
15 minutes of mountain climbers a day could help you burn an extra 1100 calories in 10 days which is about 0.31 pounds of body fat. 30 days 3300 calories and so on…
Keep in mind that losing weight too fast can be harmful. In general, a 500 calorie deficit per day is considered to be a healthy weight loss rate.
Should you do mountain climbers for calorie burning?
The calorie-burning per minute of mountain climbers is not that impressive. On the other hand, an upside of this exercise is that you can build some extra muscle mass
An added benefit of mountain climbers is that they are relatively easy to implement in your daily life. All you need is a few spare minutes.
All in all, mountain climbers are an alright, convenient, no-equipment exercise to burn some extra calories at home. However, there are better at-home exercise alternatives, like for example pushups, that can help you burn more calories. If you don’t mind buying one piece of equipment jumping rope can burn more calories.
Keep in mind that the things you eat stay important no matter what exercise routine you’re following. It’s hard to out-exercise a bad diet.