There are very many exercises that have been formulated based off of animal traits i.e., crab walks and donkey kicks. The Alligator crawl is no different.
Just like the name suggests, its movements are based on those of an actual alligator.
However, when closely considered, it’s a combination of isometric exercises such as plank, pushup and crawl.
That said, it is a high impact exercise and therefore requires that you to have attained certain levels of fitness.
As such, if you’re a beginner you should probably give yourself time before you try the exercise out.
On the other hand, if you’re ready to make that step as a pro the alligator crawl is a great exercise to add to your routine.
HOW TO DO THE ALLIGATOR CRAWL
- Start in a standard high plank with your feet hip-width apart and your hands in fists.
- Lower yourself down until you’re hovering an inch or two above the floor in a push-up position.
- Keeping your body stable and aligned, start crawling by moving your right fist and left foot a few inches forward. Repeat on the opposite side. Keep moving forward at a comfortable pace.
- This is a standard universal variation of the alligator crawl. Therefore, if you feel the need to add something to the routine you can do so.
You could increase the extent of strain by adding weighted activities around i.e., doing pushups.
WHAT MUSCLES DO ALLIGATOR CRAWLS EXERCISE?
The fact that the alligator crawl is an exercise that acts as a hybrid of a plank, pushup and crawl. It affects multiple muscles.
Some of these muscles include:
The core is one of the most engaged muscles when you do an alligator crawl. As such it results in a stronger core which consequently results in more endurance
The alligator crawl ensures that proverbial ‘extra attention’ is paid to the shoulders. This is because the need for balance means that the shoulders bear a lot of weight
In turn, this builds strength and endurance to the body in a manner that exercises such as planks can’t.
3. RECTUS ABDOMINIS (ABS)
Abs are one of the most aesthetically craved effects of exercise in general. As such it has been culturally used as a yardstick for fitness.
However, in all fairness it can be a good indicator of low body fat which is a goal for a lot of fitness buffs.
It is therefore a big advantage that alligator crawls heavily engage this area. The forward motion while doing the exercise forces the abs to work with the glutes simultaneously.
This works the rectus abdominis thus building definition and muscle strength within the muscle.
Obliques are a compound name for the waist muscles. They link the ribs, to the abdominals and then to the hip bone.
These muscles control your ability to do activities that involve bending i.e., twisting the torso or bending over.
As such, obliques are consistently engaged when you perform certain movements while doing the alligator exercise
This generates increased flexibility, better balance and strength as a result of being consistently acted upon.
BENEFITS OF DOING THE ALLIGATOR CRAWL
1.IMPROVED ENDURANCE AND CORE STRENGTH
While crawling, you use almost every muscle in your body. The engagement of so many muscles at once, results in uniform definition and strengthening of muscles.
In turn, you build total-body strength which ultimately improves your endurance and core strength
Alligator crawls are partly classified as an agility-centered exercise.
Athletes use these drills to condition themselves and make it easier to cope with taxing physical demands through a long period.
As such, alligator crawls improve your athleticism. This is because they grant you the ability to sustain rigorous physical activity over a sustained period of time
3.IMPROVES MOBILITY AND COORDINATION
The alligator crawl requires you to get into very unnatural positions for a human adult. However, these movements train your whole body and joints to get used to these positions.
The more you do the exercise the more acclimatized you get to making movements in these positions, Consequently, this ensures that you build higher levels of mobility
On the other hand, while doing the alligator crawl a lot of coordination is required. In order to successfully switch from one forward movement to the other, your body muscles coordinate a lot.
4.BUILDS BETTER POSTURE
Good posture refers to a point where the weight of the body is distributed evenly. It reduces the stress on our spine and gives us a straight, well aligned body while walking, standing and sitting.
The plank-based movements while doing the alligator crawl engages all muscles from your neck, shoulder and back up to your pelvis, thighs and legs.
Gradually, this results in a strong posture that is maintained outside of just exercise.
ALTERNATIVES TO THE ALLIGATOR CRAWL
1. SPIDER LUNGES
Borrowing off the spirit of mimicking animal movements, spider lunges are an ideal move for improving mobility in the lower back area, hip and hamstrings.
Spider lunges afford you a good stretch through the groin which simultaneously improves ankle mobility. It also activates the hamstrings and glutes.
2. CRAB WALK
Crab Walk is an intense upper body and core exercise that uses your own bodyweight for resistance. The crab walk will facilitate burning fat, toning your back, arms, shoulders, core, legs and hamstrings
As the name suggests, it involves movements akin to that a crab makes.
3. BEAR CRAWL
This is a bodyweight mobility exercise that uses strength in the shoulders, quads and abdominal muscles.
Proper form appears very similar to a baby crawl but requires you to bear the weight on your hands and toes rather than your knees.
A bear crawl is an excellent exercise in core control and focused breathing.
ALLIGATOR CRAWL MISTAKES TO AVOID
Keep your back straight, this helps maintain tension as you go from one movement to the next. It also ensures that maximum strain is applied on the relevant muscles
Slouching also induces back pains as it leads to excessive strain applied to your back
DON’T LOOK UP OR DOWN
As you start the exercise, looking up with a hyperextended neck or just the opposite, looking down, can cause changes in how the body is stabilizing.
Tension and stability are key to starting in the right form. You should therefore look forward and ensure that you have stability before proceeding.
Although the bear crawl seems complicated and can be initially complicated, it gets easier to with time.
Like with every exercise, proper form and enough rest should set you on a path to achieve maximum effects.