Crawling exercises are great movement drills to toughen up the body and increase strength and mobility in the entire body.
Animal crawl exercises are an innovative way to train the body through movement. Crawling exercises are similar to our previous animal walk exercises.
Many weak points in strength and especially in mobility are addressed, but most of these drills train tremendously well the abdominal muscles. You can expect your abs to burn like never before.
Some of the animal crawl exercises illustrated in this article are also good for increasing the strength and thickness in the back muscles, which are often neglected in martial arts practice where the practitioners don't have access to pull up bars.
With many crawling exercises the primary function of your upper body is to pull: the pulling movement is what develops the back. As a result, these movement drills can be the lifesaving component for many martial artists who shy away from the weight room.
Movement drills like the seal crawl and the pike crawl demonstrated below on the other hand will develop great pushing strength in the triceps and shoulders.
A great deal of difficulty of these crawling exercises come from the surface. A slippery floor is a much easier option to do these movement drills on than a rough tatami.
Moreover, crawling movement drills are fun to do and they will increase the movement capability and coordination to a great degree.
Check our video below to really see the execution of these animal crawls and movement drills.
Crawl Movement Drills
Shrimp crawl is a commonly used movement drill in the BJJ circles. The shrimp movement will increase the strength in leg muscles and abs.
Start by lying on the floor on your back your knees bent.
Push yourself to straight legs while simultaneously bend your body and lean towards your feet with your hands. While returning back to the position you switch to the other side and repeat the same movement.
Tuck crawl is the abs killer: you are moving sideways merely using the generated movement of your hips, shoulders and midsection.
Keep the hands and legs tucked: the more compact you can make the body, the tougher it will be.
Tuck crawl is extremely hard on the abdominals and obliques. The required energy to move will teach your body how to twist and shake in the most economical way possible.
Log roll is a phenomenal way to train the midsection: both abdominal muscles and the lower back.
You are basically rolling like a log with the movement energy generated by your midsection. Expect your abs to burn and thus develop to look and perform better than ever before.
You can increase the difficulty by trying to move in the straightest line possible or by aiming to do the exercise with the maximal amount of control. Try to avoid touching the floor with your arms or legs.
Soldier crawl is the movement exercise we did a lot in our military service.
Soldier crawl will open up the hips and increase the strength and mobility in the upper body. The more you "pull" with your arms, the more your back will be developed. However, the exercise should primarily feel in the abs.
To increase the difficulty, you can try moving in different directions: sideways and backwards.
Caterpillar crawl is a special variation of the soldier crawl where you dragging your lower body with your upper body.
The engagement and intensity of the upper body is significantly increased. You are basically pulling your entire body with your upper body alone. The strength gains in the back and the entire upper body will be prevalent.
Seal crawl is an exercise where you are bouncing like a swing and moving your body by pushing yourself forward with your arms.
You are keeping constant tension in the lower body, which will increase the strength and mobility of the lower body - and as a result, prevent lower back issues.
Your triceps are doing the majority of the work with the hand push: basically you are doing a push-up motion which will make the arms grow.
In the pike crawl you are pushing your body backwards with the use of your arms. The anterior deltoids (front delts) and triceps are doing the majority of the work in the push.
In the end of the repetition try to get the best pike stretch you can - this will work the flexibility in the lower back, hamstring and calves.
Zombie crawl is the hardest movement drill of our animal crawl series. It's basically a muscle up on the floor!
When your arms are over your head, you are pulling which means your back muscles are doing majority of the work.
After your hands are below your head, you need to push yourself forward which means pushing muscles like triceps need to work extremely hard.
How to Do Animal Crawl Exercises
There are no strict guidelines regarding how to train these exercises. You can do every single one of them in one session, or rotate them between workout sessions.
The basic guidelines apply to these exercises: the quality always trumps the quantity. After you feel like you no longer can execute the crawl movement drill in a good fashion, take a couple of minutes rest and continue.
You can sometimes challenge yourself to exhaustion to see how far you can take these crawl exercises.
It's a lot about having fun and just moving for the sake of movement. If you are interested in adding more movement drills to your workouts, take a look at our other articles:
It's possible to mix it all together and practice all of them.
Train hard, stay safe.