Crawling is Better Than Deadlifting

Categories: Uncategorized Jul 02, 2014

The Following is a guest post from Corey Howard. This post comes in hot on the heals of Aleks' post entitled Original Strength for Brute Strength.

The strength training world will collectively think I’ve lost it when I publically proclaim loaded crawling is better than deadlifting. As a former powerlifter, I agree it sounds like I’ve gone off the deep end. I mean really! For years, if you wanted to get stronger you loaded up a bar and picked it up. We’ve been taught that the total systemic effect of deadlifting will improve your overall strength. But what if there’s something better? Perhaps easier?

Back in April, a good friend of mine, Aleks Salkin was at my training facility, Results Personal Training, and he taught a bodyweight strength training workshop. He devoted the last hour to crawling and various crawling progressions. It’s no secret that Tim Anderson and the Original Strength movement have been gaining momentum over the last year, but hanging out with Aleks and seeing the almost creepy excitement he had for crawling helped me begin to sip the Kool-Aid. How could I resist? He had stories of people doing insane feats of strength and endurance after crawling for a couple of months. He challenged me to 30 days of crawling. He told me to then test various movements and see if I’ve improved. I’ll be honest; at the time my primary goal was just to ease some pain. I had low back pain, tight hips, a cervical disc issue and some pain down my right arm. I can’t deadlift or overhead press anymore due to a pretty good case of scoliosis so the thought of crawling seemed pretty appealing. If my pain went away and my strength went up as well, then I was in!


To be honest, crawling really wasn't that new to me; since going through the Primal Move certification a year ago I had been incorporating crawling into my own sessions already. However, the idea of doing it way more consistently was something new. Almost skeptically I weighed, measured, and took my bodyfat comp at the beginning. After all, if I was going to do this, I was going to conclusively prove Aleks right or wrong. Here’s how my program looked: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday were going to be calisthenics strength training days finishing with various sets of crawling. Tuesday and Thursday were my conditioning days where I would set the clock down and simply crawl for 10-15 minutes, resting as needed… but trying to minimize the rest periods. On Saturday, I typically loaded up the sled and did 5 sets of loaded crawling paired with hip bridges - This was 20 yards backwards immediately followed by 20 yards forwards. Aleks cautioned me to start with only 25lbs on the sled and add weight each week in small increments, by week 6 I had worked up 100lbs on the sled.

What did I learn? First, my low back pain, tight hips and neck issues completely disappeared after a little over a week. With my pain gone, I kind of became very obsessive about crawling. It was something I needed to do to feel good.

Second, my endurance went through the roof! The Tuesday and Thursday crawling sessions taught me a lot. I learned to breathe and manage an elevated heart rate. I could sort of relax into the discomfort and keep moving. You also learn how to physically push yourself when you look down and see your knees are only an inch or so off the ground but refuse to put them down. Unloaded crawling is a lot like naked pistol squats; the better you get without weights the easier it is with weights. My Tuesday, Thursday sessions allowed me to focus on the X-pattern movement, lat engagement, hip stability, and driving through my legs or arms.

Third, my strength was improving each week. Each week it became easier to do more pistol squats, more one arm push-ups, and pull-ups. At the end of week 6, right before I was going to measure again and put together my before and after numbers, disaster hit: I fell off my bicycle and ruptured my right tricep. I couldn’t test my push-ups, pull-ups, or even crawl anymore. I knew I had seen countless improvements but now I couldn’t test anything! Right before surgery I had my bodyfat tested again. I hadn’t crawled or trained in almost 10 days and I wasn’t expecting much so I was shocked to learn I’d put on 6lbs of muscle and dropped 3% bodyfat! I hadn’t changed my diet or training. I only added a boat load of crawling. Aleks was right…. Crawling is awesome!


I sent Aleks a Facebook message with my numbers and told him I thought crawling was better than deadlifting. Look at it from a teaching standpoint; everyone can crawl in some way or another, it can be done almost daily, crawling uses only bodyweight, and it can improve not only how your body functions but it can improve your conditioning and strength as well.

When compared to deadlifting, the teaching curve can sometimes be very long depending on the client, it isn’t advisable to do it every day, and you need equipment. I’m not saying deadlifting shouldn’t be practiced; it’s just that sometimes the simplest movements yield the biggest results. Think about it, the body works in an X-pattern, and if we can strengthen that natural movement pattern from a neurological and muscular standpoint then the body will work more efficiently. And just like Gray Cook teaches, if we can move more efficiently then strength and endurance will happen. I challenge anyone to try what I did, and learn for yourself. Crawling makes you stronger! Fire it up!

About Corey Howard, PCC, RKC, CK-FMS: Corey Howard strives to constantly become stronger, and to help others to achieve their fitness goals. He is the owner of Results Personal Training, and can be reached at or

Comments (5)

  1. Mark Kidd:
    Jan 12, 2022 at 02:21 PM


    Great article.

    I’m wondering what you think of carries?



    1. Tim Anderson:
      Jan 12, 2022 at 06:33 PM

      They are amazing. I wrote this article about Crawling AND Carries here:


  2. Mark Kidd:
    Jan 12, 2022 at 06:35 PM

    Hi Tim


    I was just wondering what someone like Corey thought of them. It’s a hard sell to people that carries are more useful.


    1. Tim Anderson:
      Jan 12, 2022 at 06:35 PM

      Ah… Got ya!


      1. Mark Kidd:
        Jan 12, 2022 at 06:42 PM

        No worries.

        I mean the thing I like about carries are:

        They make everything easier. I’m not sure is my gait is more fluid, like you wrote, but definitely easier.

        I put on muscle that was useful without useless muscle.

        I also was heavier as a result without feeling heavy. I never encountered that with squats, deadlifts and bench presses.


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