Ring in the ‘Crawlidays’ with 3 epic crawling variations

Categories: Blog, blog Dec 21, 2020

Ah, the holiday season.  Everyone’s favorite time of year: from Thanksgiving all the way through New Year’s, there’s more quality time spent with family and friends (well, usually anyway), holiday food galore, and gifts out the wazoo. In the words of George and Ira Gershwin, who could ask for anything more?

With all the family visits, the gift shopping, the last-minute preparations, and everything else, the one thing no one seems to be able to get much of is…

Training time!

And it should come as no surprise, either. 

When our routines are thrown out of whack, the first thing that usually gets sacrificed is our self-care. 

Tack onto this that most people still think that unless they’re knee-deep in a traditional strength program that they can’t get any noteworthy results and you have a recipe for a hectic, unproductive few weeks with very little physical activity and a whole lot of guilt.

Well, cast that guilt aside, I say! 

And avert your heart and mind from the idea that you need to carve out a large chunk of your schedule in order to make some head-turning progress in your training.

You can get dynamite results with just a few dedicated minutes per day of training.  I’ll show you how.

What’s more, you can even go all-in on just one single solitary movement and still end up turning heads and getting asked “how do you make time to get such great results?”

The movement?

Why, crawling, of course!

Now, you may not need much convincing if you’re reading this, but just for fun, here are just a few reasons why:


  • Get a full-body workout - truly full-body movements are a rarity, as most traditional exercises typically emphasize one “region” of the body (like the upper or lower part) while other regions of the body kind of hold steady.  For example, if you do a pushup, your legs have to stay tight as part of the exercise, but your upper body pressing muscles are doing all the real work.

    Crawling is one of the few examples where pretty much EVERYTHING is working all at once - from your toes all the way up to your neck and everything in between

    All of this has a nice carryover into your favorite kettlebell, barbell, and bodyweight movements as well.  A couple of surprise PRs in movements you haven’t been able to train much would be a nice little Christmas gift to yourself, I’d say!


  • Straighten out your “Scrooge posture” - let’s face it: at this time of year, the last person anyone wants to be compared to is Ebenezer Scrooge. But even if you’re generous with your purse strings, you might still end up feeling pretty “Bah humbug” if you’re constantly hobbling around like a crotchety old man.

    And given how many of us have spent the vast majority of our year working at home, slaving away in a fetal position in front of our computers for the majority of our waking hours, your once confident posture may now look a bit more like a question mark.

    Well, it’s never too late to turn that question mark into an exclamation point! 

    Crawling helps you to revitalize and refresh your natural, authentic human posture, and it does so dynamically - NOT by simply making a mental note to yourself to “stand up straight” (which does nothing for your posture long term, I might add).

    Not only will you feel more confident, but you’ll also look the part, too.


  • Keep the pounds off - This is one of those “cherry on top” benefits that you’d probably never guess, but crawling is actually great for incinerating fat like those Christmas cookies you forgot to take out of the oven.

    Years ago, I put out a 30-day crawling challenge during the Christmas season and got participants from around the world emailing me with their results.

    One gal from the Czech Republic excitedly dropped me a note after day 30 telling me she had actually LOST some flab despite eating “like a piggy” (her words, not mine) all throughout the month of December.  Not too shabby!

So now all that’s left to do is get crackin’ and crawl!

If you’re anything like me, space probably comes at a premium at your Fortress of Solitude, and that’s okay.  You don’t need an airplane runway’s worth of space to get in some potent crawling practice. Some of the finest, most tough-as-nails crawling variations out there work best in small and constricted spaces.  Here are my go-tos:


Axial Crawl


Axial crawls are the ultimate in short-space crawling.  To do them, you basically crawl in a circle like the hands on a clock - i.e. crawl as though you’ve got a pole going through your stomach.

Even if you literally only have a few feet of space on either side, you can get in some seriously tough crawling workouts.  Many of my students have told me that axial crawling is harder on them than practically any other crawling variation - bar none. 


If I had to take a guess, it’s because unlike other crawling variations where you’re either going forward or backward, axial crawling has you moving at angles you’re not used to, and in the process really fires up not just a bunch of muscles you didn’t even know you had (which, believe me, you will feel after a few minutes of these)


Straight leg side crawls


Sideways crawling is another favorite of mine.  It helps you begin to internalize the very athletic skill of moving side to side, and doing so at the foundations of your movement via the crawling pattern.

The standard way we teach side crawling is with the knees bent; a fine option indeed.  But if you really want to spike the challenge level, get your heart and lungs chugging like a locomotive going uphill, and build bulletproof hips, core, arms, and legs, you can’t do much better than straight-leg side crawls. 

Don’t be surprised if you suddenly uncover some previously hidden strength and mobility advances, too!


Forearm crawls


Of all my favorite gut-check crawling variations out there, forearm crawls top the list in a big way.

If you’ve never done these before, you’re in for a real treat - depending on how you define treat, I suppose!

These not only forge eye-popping levels of strength in your triceps, shoulders, hips, thighs, and upper back (strength that you can put to excellent use in your favorite kettlebell and bodyweight exercises, by the way!), but as one gal told me years back, they positively “changed her core”, making it not only stronger but visibly tighter as well.

Hard to believe it’s true, but some of the best things in life are just that way.

So how should you toss these into your hectic daily routine?

Simple - do it just like this:

  1. Starting with the axial crawls, set a timer for 2-3 minutes and see how long you can crawl within that span of time.  Take as few breaks as possible but as much as necessary.
  2. Once you’ve reached a semi-comfortable 2-3 minutes of non-stop axial crawls, trade up to the straight-leg sideways crawls and repeat the process.
  3. Finally, after you can do 2-3 minutes of straight-leg sideways crawls without pause, you’re ready for the forearm crawls.  Stick to short bursts of forward and backward movement (and consider wearing a sweater to protect your elbows - trust me on this)

Within a few short weeks, you could affect a near quantum leap in your strength, stamina, resilience, and athleticism just by making it a point to crawl a little bit each day.

And who knows?  Maybe you’ll even get friends and family members setting their New Year’s Resolutions to perform, move, and look a little more like you!

Get after it and let me know how you do.

Have fun and happy training!


Aleks “The Hebrew Hammer” Salkin is a level 2 StrongFirst certified kettlebell instructor (SFG II) and an Original Strength Instructor. 

He grew up scrawny, unathletic, weak, and goofy until he was exposed to kettlebells and the teaching and methodology of Pavel in his early 20s, and took his training and movement skills to the next level upon discovering Original Strength in his mid-20s.

He is currently based out of Omaha, Nebraska where he spends his time teaching students online and in person, as well as spreading the word of StrongFirst and healthy living.

He is the author of 99 Bodyweight & Kettlebell Workouts (https://alekssalkin.lpages.co/99bodyweightkettlebellworkouts/)  Find him online at www.alekssalkin.com


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