Can You Crawl Yourself Fit? Benefits Of Spider & Bear Crawl Exercises

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Sweat

December 13, 2022

Can You Crawl Yourself Fit? Benefits Of Spider & Bear Crawl Exercises - Hero image

Crawling: it’s not just what you do when you’re a baby who hasn’t yet learned how to walk. The truth is, as counter-intuitive as it may sound, including crawling movements in your next workout is a great way to level up your training.  

Crawling is a basic movement, but we often forget how to do it once we start walking. And just because you might not need to crawl to get from A to B doesn’t mean it’s not good for you.  

Mayo Clinic even points to crawling skills being critical in reducing your fall risk. After all, if you’re not able to get down on the floor and move around and get back up with ease, it’s more likely you’ll struggle to get on your feet again after a fall. In fact, crawling is often used in rehabilitation and physical therapy programs! 

You’ll find a number of crawling exercises in Sweat programs and workouts, including spider crawls, bear crawls and lateral bear crawls. But what are the benefits of practicing these unique exercises? And what muscle groups do you activate when you’re crawling?  

The benefits of crawling

While crawling might look easy, you’d be foolish to think this exercise is child’s play. Depending on the movement, crawling exercises require great coordination and engage a number of different muscles, from your abs to your chest, arms and pecs, to your obliques and triceps.

It sounds obvious, but crawling is a truly versatile movement that can be done anywhere, anytime! It’s one of the fundamental movements we learn at a young age that forms the foundation for the other movements your body makes, and it’s important to be able to maintain these movement patterns to build and maintain functional strength into adulthood.

Crawling promotes core stability while also involving the vestibular system, which is our sense of balance and motion. As soon as you begin, you’ll realise how much core engagement and muscle control is required! While further research is required into the mental benefits of crawling, there’s no denying it makes for a truly effective exercise - not to mention a fun way to change up your workout routine.

Exercise: Bench Press - Kelsey Wells

How to do a spider crawl

  1. Place both hands on the mat slightly further than shoulder-width apart, with your feet together on the mat behind you while resting on the balls of your feet. Maintaining a neutral spine, bend your elbows and lower your torso towards the mat until your arms form two 90-degree angles. This is your starting position.

  2. Take a big step forward with your left hand and right foot at the same time, bringing your knee out to the side so that it almost touches your right elbow, rotating your torso slightly. Ensure that your abdominals remain engaged and that your torso remains parallel to the floor.

  3. Take a big step forward with your right hand and left foot at the same time, bringing your knee out to the side so that it almost touches your left elbow, rotating your torso slightly. Once again, ensure that your abdominals remain engaged and that your torso remains parallel to the floor. Continue alternating between left and right for the specified number of repetitions, inhaling for two steps and exhaling for two steps.

The spider crawl works your chest, abs, pecs, obliques and triceps and involves a horizontal push and trunk rotation.

Exercise: Bench Press - Cass Olholm

How to do a bear crawl

  1. Starting on all fours on a fitness mat, ensure your knees are below your hips and your hands are below your shoulders. Set your spine in a neutral position and draw your shoulder blades down and back. Tuck your toes and lift your knees off the mat, resting on the balls of your feet. This is your starting position.

  2. Take a small step forward with your left foot and right hand at the same time, ensuring you keep your abdominals engaged to help minimise torso movement and that your torso remains parallel to the floor.

  3. Take a small step forward with your right foot and left hand at the same time, once again, ensuring you keep your abdominals engaged to help minimise torso movement and that your torso remains parallel to the floor. Continue alternating between left and right for the specified number of repetitions, inhaling for two steps and exhaling for two steps. Complete half of your repetitions moving forward and the other half moving backwards.

This truck anti-extension movement is a great core exercise.

Exercise: Bench Press - Kayla Itsines

How to do a lateral bear crawl

  1. Starting on all fours on a yoga mat, ensure that your knees are below your hips and your hands are below your shoulders. Set your spine in a neutral position and draw your shoulder blades down and back. Tuck your toes and lift your knees off the mat, resting on the balls of your feet. This is your starting position.

  2. Take a small step to the side with your left foot and right hand at the same time, ensuring that you keep your abdominals engaged to help minimise torso movement and that your torso remains parallel to the floor.

  3. Take a small step in the same direction with your right foot and left hand at the same time, once again, ensuring that you keep your abdominals engaged to help minimise torso movement and that your torso remains parallel to the floor.

  4. Continue this sideways movement for the length of your mat, towel or space before repeating in the opposite direction for the specified number of repetitions or time. Maintain control of your breathing throughout. Ensure you complete an even number of repetitions in both directions.

This is a great core movement often found in Head Trainer Kayla Itsines’ programs. Want to try an even trickier variation? Opt for a lateral bear crawl and shoot through instead.

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Crawling towards a fitter you

So, there you have it! As it turns out, there’s nothing childish about crawling. This unique exercise is loaded with a number of full-body rewards.

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* Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. The above information should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, sleep methods, daily activity, or fitness routine. Sweat assumes no responsibility for any personal injury or damage sustained by any recommendations, opinions, or advice given in this article.

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