Spiderman Crawl – What, How, and Why


Spiderman crawls may make you think of Peter Parker climbing up a 50-story building. While that would be pretty sweet to learn how to do, that is not the spiderman crawl we are discussing today. But, by adding spiderman crawls to your current workout routine, you will crank your training up a notch and feel sort of like a superhero.

The spiderman crawl is a challenging, full body exercise, requiring no equipment, making it perfect for an at home workout. During this exercise you will be mimicking an insect (or Spiderman) crawling across the floor by reaching long with your arms, keeping your core stabilized, and pushing forwards with your legs. Not only will this exercise boost your strength and endurance, it will also spike your heart rate, challenge your coordination, and work on your hip mobility.

Don’t confuse this spiderman crawl with a bear crawl, leopard crawl, or crab walk. While those are also good choices, the spiderman crawl will fire up your full body more than any of these variations. If you don’t have room to add these to your current strength training routine, try them as part of a dynamic warm up. You will get your blood flowing, increase your body temperature, and stretch your low back and hips. Don’t believe me? Give them a try.

What Muscles are used in Spiderman Crawls

You can name any muscle in the body, and you are most likely going to be using it during the spiderman crawl. There is so much muscle activation that goes into the strength, stability, and coordination requirements of completing a successful spiderman crawl.

Here are the main muscle groups.

Upper body:

  • Pectoralis Major
    •  To drive the push-up
  • Trapezius muscle group
    • To help stabilize the upper back and shoulder blades
  • Deltoids
    • To keep the shoulders strong and stable during the dynamic movement
  • Biceps and Triceps
    • To control the elbow flexion and extension
  • Latissimus Dorsi
    •  To help pull the body forward

Core:

  • Quadratus Lumborum
    •  To help bring the knee and elbow together
  • Internal and External Obliques
    • To help stabilize the core and drive the side bend and rotation to bring the knee to the elbow
  • Rectus Abdominis
    • To keep the core strong and stable during this dynamic movement
  • Erector Spinae
    • To keep the back strong and in a neutral position

Lower body:

  • Glutes
    • To drive the body forwards and keep the hips stable
  • Hip Abductors
    • To help bring the leg up and the knee to the elbow
  • Hamstrings
    • To help bend the knee as you bring the leg up to the elbow
  • Quads-
    • To help straighten the knee as you push your body forward
  • Calves
    • To help push the whole leg forward as you bend the knee

How to perform spiderman crawls

The spiderman crawls combines a few different body weight exercises, including the plank, push-up, and the bear crawl. This exercise can be challenging, but once you understand the right movement patterns, and remember to keep your whole body engaged, you will be on your way to crawling like spiderman.

As always, make sure you have good form before you increase the level of intensity with this exercise.

  1. Start in a solid plank position, but with hands slightly wider than normal, bringing them right outside your shoulders. Keep your core tight, palms flat on the ground, elbows extended, and legs in a strong and straight position behind you.
  1. Now, begin lowering yourself down into a push-up position. Continue to keep your core tight and your shoulders and legs strong and stable.
  1. As you lower yourself down, simultaneously push off of your right leg, rotating it out to your side, bringing your right knee to your right elbow. And, at the same time, reach forwards with your left arm. This is the crawling motion.
  1. While simultaneously doing a push-up, driving your leg to your elbow, and reaching forwards with the opposite arm, remember to keep your core tight and feel the muscles in your abdomen contract to help pull the leg forwards.
  1. Then push back up to the top of a push-up position and repeat with the opposite side. Continue for your desired sets and repetitions.

Throughout this whole movement, make sure your hips are not rising up towards the sky. You should feel your legs working to help push you forwards, your arms helping to pull you forwards, and your stabilizing muscles working to keep everything in a stable, neutral position.

Besides the strength, endurance, and hip mobility this exercise requires, it also challenges your coordination. Make sure you practice all of these moving pieces before adding it to your workout routine.

Benefits of spiderman crawls

As you can tell, this is a full body exercise and it is full of so many benefits. Depending on your intention with the exercise, it can either be a great dynamic warm up or a solid strength and endurance training movement to add to your next workout.

As a dynamic warm up, the spiderman crawl allows you to really open up and mobilize your hips as you bring your knee up towards the opposite elbow. Plus, you are warming up your shoulders and core which are typically used in most workouts, regardless of it being arm or leg day. Planks and push-ups are a staple in many warm up routines due to the weight bearing nature of this movement. Spiderman crawls add a layer to the standing plank and push-up warm up as you are also reaching long with your arm, stretching out your lats, and you have to work even harder to maintain core stability.

As part of a workout, the movement intensity and benefits change. To start with, being able to do a spiderman crawl allows you to add variety to your workout routine. If you are becoming bored with your current planks or push-ups, this is one way to kick it up a notch. Also, as mentioned several times already, this is a fantastic full body workout, engaging most muscles from your shoulders to your feet.

Since this exercise involves so much core stability, it will help strengthen your back which can either help with low back pain or reduce your risk of future back pain.¹ 

And really the same thing can go for your shoulders or your hips as exercise helps to reduce pain or risk of pain.² ³

Depending on how you program spiderman crawls into your workout, you can either go for a longer duration or more sets and reps to build strength. Or you can move faster through this movement to get your heart rate up and more endurance training. The best part is, you can mix it up day to day for a different workout stimulus.

Mistakes to avoid

To get the best workout you can from the spiderman crawl, make sure you avoid these common mistakes:

  • Don’t let your hips rise towards the ceiling during any part of the workout.
  • But also, don’t let your hips drop down towards the ground, causing increased extension through your spine.
  • Don’t crank your head and neck up into extension.
  • But also, don’t let your head and neck bend down towards the floor
    • Instead keep a neutral head and neck position
  • Make sure you have good form before adding intensity

Avoiding these mistakes will help you avoid pain or injury while ensuring you get all of the benefits you can from the spiderman crawl.

Sources

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1521694210000033
  2. https://bmcmusculoskeletdisord.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-2474-12-205
  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1440244010001647

Heath Barrow

Heath is a certified personal trainer, an ordained minister, and most importantly, a father. He loves reading and learning new things...and enjoys it when he's able to pass that along to others!  ~"A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed." (Proverbs 11:25, NIV)

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