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Shoulders, Abs and Beastly Badassery........

I don't know if you guessed it from the title, but crawling is on my mind.

Having just written a few crawling patterns into a number of client programs, I got down on the floor in my front room and scuttled about myself.

It felt amazing!

So lets talk about crawling and why you should be doing it, and the most common mistake I see.

Every one wants better core strength and decent mobility. But we all hate doing endless ab work outs and who can honestly say they enjoy stretching?

The truth is, if you get down on all fours and move around like a baby, like an animal, you cover mobility and core strength, while doing a number on scapular control.

So how do we apply crawling into our training?

It fits in three places.

Warm Up Especially on an upper body or full body training day. In between Bigger lifts Be careful here, pick an easy crawl and don't take it to fatigue. As a "B" exercise paired with a bigger "A" movement, you want to ensure the crawl resets you and helps prepare you for the next set. It works great in between Deadlifts or other lower body lift.

Towards the end of training as assistance / conditioning work.

This probably the most obvious place to put it. Partner up a crawl with some lunges and some swings, maybe with some batting ropes or light plyometrics / agility work and you have a one stop conditioning set that will also leave you feeling like you can take on the world.

The mistake people make is they try to crawl as fast as possible. If you do this you will miss out on the high end benefits of the exercise. Speed covers up your movement anomalies, your mobility issues and reinforces any compensation patterns you use. So instead, we slow down. We try to be smooth, silent. Like a cat stalking it's prey. Now we will discover tightness, weakness. Areas of immobility or excess mobility will begin to show themselves, meaning we can address them. The wrists get time to strengthen, the scapula (shoulder blades) are under load for longer each step which asks all the muscles that control scapular motion to come out and play. And as we move slowly, we go from 4 points of ground contact, to three, maybe to 2 points, nice and slowly, our core musculature has to ramp up to keep the spine articulating nicely so the shoulder and pelvic girdles can communicate with each other and keep us balanced.

Like the Turkish Get Up and Windmill exercises, crawling doesn't so much get you strong as much as it joins the body up in such a manner as to be able to demonstrate it's strength in a reactive, reflexive manner.

You may use a lot or a little space to crawl in, if space is tight, take just a step or two forward and backwards. Maybe even just lift the arms and legs without actually travelling.

Here's a few of the most common patterns I like to use with clients:

Bear Crawl:

Possibly the simplest crawling pattern, and one that has the most play in it. By play, I mean you can adjust and adapt it however you wish to put more emphasis on the shoulders, spine, or hips. Try it with the arms kept long and straight, try it with the arms bending each step. Have some fun exploring possibilities.

Spiderman Crawl:

My personal favourite, a great one for working into the hips. If you keep the head up and eyes forward, it really helps keep the hips low which will force you to use the as much of your hip mobility as you have. The head up posture also challenges our upper back, which is no bad thing.

Leopard Crawl:

This is Spiderman's brother, and often I'll swap between the two every few steps. This one the knee comes through underneath you rather than out to the side so it challenges you mobility and control in a different manner

Lizard 1:

The full Lizard crawl is a highly advanced exercise, but the "Lizard 1" is both a stepping stone towards the full Lizard and it's a lovely drill for the lateral line of the body. Think Side Plank, think Glute Medius, think Scapula It's all here in Lizard 1:

Elevated Axis Crawl:

This is a more recent addition to the crawling arsenal, one I stole from Original Strength top bloke, Tim Anderson. So I'll let him tell you all about it:

Are there more variations you could use?


But these are the go to crawls that I pull out for most people. When we use crawling in Wg-Fit, we're not doing "animal flow" or "gymnastics" we're using them as attribute development tools, usually looking at shoulder and core strength/stability with an eye on nice clean motion of the scapula, spine and hips.

Have fun


Dave Hedges

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