The Case For Adding Crawling to Your Workouts

Anthony J. Yeung
by Anthony J. Yeung
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The Case For Adding Crawling to Your Workouts

It comes down to this: Crawling is one of the best exercises you could possibly do for your body, but you probably haven’t done it since you were a baby. Well, it’s time to add it to your workout routine.

Crawling exercises are so effective because they target almost every fitness goal possible — building flexibility, endurance, mobility and stability. By controlling your body with just your hands and feet, you’ll also train total-body strength and control. Crawling even improves your motor control as you learn to move your entire muscular and skeletal system through space.

With conventional weight training, however, we’re often stuck in one-dimensional movements — front-to-back or side-to-side. But all physical activity is three-dimensional with your body moving in every direction possible. Crawling enhances your ability to do that.

The best times to use crawling exercises are during your warmup (to activate your muscles, joints, core and nervous system), after your workout (as a light finisher that won’t beat up your joints) and as an “off-day” workout to help promote recovery and regeneration.

Here are some of the best crawling drills to add to your routine:

FORWARD CRAWL (AKA BEAR CRAWL)

Start on all fours, with your shoulders directly above your hands, your hips above your knees and your knees an inch above the ground. Crawl forward by taking a tiny step with your right arm and left leg at the same time, and then another step with your left arm and right leg. Alternate while keeping your hips low and your head up. To increase the difficulty, crawl backward.

LATERAL CRAWL

This is similar to the forward crawl, but moving sideways. Move to one side by taking a tiny step with your right arm and left leg at the same time, and then another step with your left arm and right leg. (Often, people mistakenly use both limbs on the same side.) Keep your hips low and your head up.

CRAB WALK

Start with your hands and feet flat on the ground, chest facing up, knees bent, hips an inch from the ground, arms straight, hands directly under your shoulders and fingers pointing behind you. Crawl forward by taking a tiny step with your right arm and left leg at the same time, and then another step with your left arm and right leg. Alternate while keeping your hips low and your chest up. To increase the difficulty, crawl backward or laterally.

INCHWORMS

Start in a pushup position. Without moving your hands, keep your knees straight and make tiny steps forward while feeling a nice stretch in your hamstrings. Step as close as you can to your hands. Then, without moving your feet, keep your elbows straight and “walk” forward until you return to a pushup position. Repeat.

SPIDER-MAN CRAWL

Start in a pushup position. Crawl forward by taking a large step with your right arm and left leg at the same time — get low to the ground and swing your left knee so it almost touches your right elbow. (You’ll look like Spider-Man scaling a skyscraper.) Alternate sides and keep your body low to the ground. To increase the difficulty, crawl backward.

About the Author

Anthony J. Yeung
Anthony J. Yeung

Anthony, a certified strength and conditioning specialist, is a fitness expert at Esquire, GQ and Men’s Health and gets guys in shape for their wedding at GroomBuilder.

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