This core workout will have you crawling – literally
Forget planking, crunches, TRX and whatever other fancy move you’re doing to get killer abs – crawling is the new wonder move fitness fanatics are incorporating into their gym routines.
It’s one of the first ways we learn to get about while being a baby. But crawling – specifically the bear crawl – is now being hailed as one of the best ways to target your core with the added bonus of working your legs, shoulders, arms, chest and cardio to boot.
While bear crawls aren’t necessarily a new idea, it’s only recently that trainers and fitness gurus have begun to regularly incorporate them into exercise routines.
Sydney-based personal trainer Mark Moon describes the bear crawl as the “new functional movement training”.
“Some of the benefits crawling offers is that it’s great for hip mobility and getting people to exercise in different positions which is especially important for people sitting in the one position at a desk all day,” he tells The Juice Daily.
As a developmental movement pattern, crawling ties everything together – strength and coordination while activating different parts of the brain.
As a rehabilitation and restorative exercise it can help improve balance, contralateral movement (or coordinated opposite arm-to-leg movement) and even give you better reflexive stability which helps your body to anticipate movement before it happens.
But what crawling really has everyone jumping off their seat about is that it’s a whole-body movement that’s simple to master and has benefits for all fitness levels – all you need to do is tweak the intensity or even where in your workout you use it to reap the rewards.
“The great thing about crawling exercises is they are so multi functional, they work extremely well in warm-ups, circuits and even have their place in a cooldown,” says Moon.
“In a warm-up they are great after you have done some light mobility to add bodyweight loading, increase the heart rate and activate the core. They work great in a circuit – when done correctly they have a huge amount of muscle requirement and therefore use up lots of energy making them great calorie burning exercises. Used in a cool down sequence, they’re great as a transitioning exercise before winding down to more gentle stretching and mobility exercises, rather than just going from high intensity directly into static stretching.”
If you’re keen to get on your hands and knees and really give your whole body working, there are four basic crawls to master:
- The bear crawl – the best and simplest. Get into a crawl position, lift the knees off the ground and, extending your opposite arm to leg forward, crawl along the ground like Spider-Man.
- The tabletop crawl – requiring a little more core stability and strength, the table top crawl positions knees under your hips and your hands under your shoulders. Flex your feet and lift up onto your toes/the balls of your feet. Keeping your knees close to the ground (but not touching), begin to move forward with the aim of keeping your back straight and flat like a tabletop.
- Gorilla crawl – a real butt, glutes and thigh burner that requires a lot of hip mobility. Start standing with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart the bend over and reach your hands out on the ground in front of you. Shift your weight forward to your hands then jump your feet forward, where they finish outside just outside your hand position. Reach forward and repeat.
- Inchworms– one of the better crawls to use in a warm-up, targeting the hamstrings. Start by standing with your feet together, then bend over and place your hands on the ground in front of you while trying to keep your legs straight in a Downward Dog position. Slowly walk your hands out while keeping your legs straight until you reach a plank position. Then drop your hips toward the ground and arch back, pressing your chest out.
Once you’ve mastered all these, you can then challenge yourself by doing them backwards or even sideways.
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