Who would have thought that babies would be the masters of one of the best exercises ever?
Crawling exercises are not only beneficial for your strength and mobility, they can also improve your brain performance and coordination. In addition to its ability to get you stronger, crawling has many corrective properties. It’s an all-in-one exercise.
RELATED: Why Bear Crawls Are All the Rage Right Now
The hardest part of crawling, especially when you haven’t done it for a long time, is learning or re-learning the movement. If you don’t use it, you lose it. Give it a try. Get down on all fours and try to crawl and coordinate contralateral movements. Tough? More challenging than you thought?
With the Crawl, you see the body and mind working against each other, struggling to find a correct plan of attack. The first common mistake is moving the same arm and leg, resulting in a feeling that it just isn’t right.
But keep trying—it’ll come back to you. The biggest benefit to adding Crawls into your program is that they help you maintain a neutral spine. And a neutral spine is pretty darn important, right? You use it for just about every exercise or lift at the gym.
- Deadlift? Neutral spine.
- Squat? Neutral Spine.
- Push-Ups? You betcha!
RELATED: The World’s Hardest Plank Is Another Great Way to Work on Maintaining a Neutral Spine
Before you can run, you have to walk, and before you walk you have to crawl. What do you do before you crawl? In this case, you need to be able to hold the static position. From there, you can work through the progressions below to get to the full Crawl. First, you integrate moving your limbs separately, then together, to regain the motor plan and coordination for the complex movement ahead of you.
Watch the video above for a demonstration of how to perform each of the movements below.
This is the most basic position to start with. Learning how to get into a neutral position goes a long way toward achieving success down the line.
This is your first introduction to contralateral limb lifts. It’s important to keep a neutral spine throughout the movement. Losing that position is easy if you rush or don’t concentrate. Take your time to brace through this movement.
Elevated Beast Hold
Holding a Beast position is a precursor to moving. It is this position from which you will start the Crawl. Just like you held a neutral spine without moving in the basic quadruped, you will repeat it in this elevated position.
Beast Limb Lifts
This is essentially a repeat of the Bird Dog, but again from a beast position instead of quadruped. Balancing is the hard part, so make sure you brace properly. Start with single limb lifts and progress to contralateral limb lifts.
Beast Back & Forth Steps
Now that you’ve hammered down keeping a neutral spine while lifting your arm and leg, you can start to work on the coordination of movement. To start, take a step forward with an arm and the opposite leg, then return to start. Repeat for the other arm and leg. Congrats, you are now about to reach the Holy Grail of crawling—provided you didn’t screw up any of the steps before.
Once you reach this point in the progression, it’s easy. Just take a step forward with one side, and instead of returning to the starting position, step through with the other arm and leg. Then just repeat for however long you want to go. The key is to control your hips and keep them parallel to the ground.
One great cue is to balance a yoga block or pad on your back and maintain control over it as you crawl. This ensures stability, but it also forces you to slow down and not rush the movement.
Crawling can literally be placed anywhere in your program as long as it makes sense for the goal of that training day.
Don’t be surprised if you get some weird looks as you start performing crawling exercises. Whether you’re an athlete or a coach, there are bound to be stares. People will have no idea why you’re crawling around the gym, but you do. The benefits outweigh looking silly.
RELATED: She’s Tougher Than You Think: Model Kate Upton Bear Crawls While Dragging 300-Pound Sled