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What is a Plank Crawl? Step-by-Step Guide

What is a plank crawl? The plank crawl is excellent for building core strength and stability, and it boosts overall fitness by engaging multiple muscle groups simultaneously. In this guide, we'll explain what a plank crawl is and provide a step-by-step method to perform it effectively, helping you to incorporate it into your fitness routine for better results.

What is a Plank Crawl?

The plank crawl is a dynamic variation of the traditional plank exercise. It involves moving forward or backward on your hands and toes while maintaining the plank position. This movement adds an extra layer of challenge to the static hold of a traditional plank, making it a more complex and beneficial exercise.

The primary goals of the plank crawl include enhancing core stability by engaging the abdominal and lower back muscles continuously as you move. It also aims to improve shoulder strength and stability, as the shoulders work to support and stabilize the body throughout the movement. Additionally, the plank crawl increases overall body coordination and agility, as it requires synchronized movements that involve nearly every part of the body. This exercise is excellent for those looking to improve their functional fitness, which can benefit everyday activities and athletic performance alike.

what is a plank crawl

Benefits of a Plank Crawl

The plank crawl provides several benefits that go beyond the traditional plank, engaging multiple muscle groups and improving overall fitness. Here’s how this dynamic exercise boosts core strength, coordination, stability, and cardiovascular health.

Core Strength:

The plank crawl is particularly effective at targeting the core muscles, which include the abdominal muscles, obliques, and lower back. As you crawl, these muscles must continuously contract to maintain stability and support your spine. This constant activation helps to strengthen these areas, making the plank crawl an excellent exercise for developing core muscle endurance and resilience.

Full-Body Engagement:

Unlike the traditional plank, the plank crawl involves a wider range of muscle groups. The shoulders and arms are heavily engaged as they bear the body's weight and help propel it forward or backward. Additionally, the legs play a crucial role in maintaining alignment and supporting movement. This full-body engagement makes the plank crawl a comprehensive workout that helps build overall muscle tone and strength.

Improved Coordination and Stability:

Performing the plank crawl requires a high level of coordination and stability. The movement challenges your ability to coordinate your arms and legs while keeping your core engaged to avoid sagging or piking your hips. This not only improves your overall body coordination but also enhances your ability to maintain stability under dynamic conditions.

Cardiovascular Benefit:

When performed at a higher intensity, the plank crawl can also serve as a cardiovascular workout. Moving quickly from one position to another increases heart rate, which helps improve cardiovascular health and endurance. This makes it a versatile exercise that not only strengthens muscles but also boosts heart health.

How to Perform a Plank Crawl

Mastering the plank crawl requires proper technique to maximize benefits and avoid injury. Follow these detailed step-by-step instructions to ensure you perform the exercise correctly and effectively.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Starting Position:

  • Begin by getting into a high plank position. Place your hands directly under your shoulders, fingers spread wide for better stability.

  • Your body should form a straight line from head to heels. Engage your core by pulling your belly button towards your spine.

  • Keep your feet about hip-width apart to help maintain balance.

Crawling Movement:

  • Start the crawling motion by simultaneously moving your right hand and left foot forward a few inches.

  • Follow this by moving your left hand and right foot forward. This alternating movement mimics a crawling motion.

  • Ensure that your steps are small and controlled, focusing on maintaining stability rather than speed.

Maintaining Form:

  • Throughout the movement, keep your core tight and your back flat. Avoid letting your hips sag or your lower back arch.

  • Keep your hips level with the ground. Avoid rotating your hips to maintain a stable and straight plank position.

  • Your gaze should be slightly ahead of your hands to keep your neck in a neutral position.

Progression and Repetition:

  • Perform the crawling movement for a set distance, such as 10-15 feet, or for a specific number of steps, like 10-15 steps forward.

  • Once you reach your target distance or steps, reverse the direction and crawl backward to return to your starting position.

  • Aim for 2-3 sets, depending on your fitness level.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Sagging Hips: One of the most common mistakes is allowing the hips to sag, which puts strain on the lower back. Maintain a straight line from head to heels by continuously engaging your core muscles.

Rotating Hips: Another mistake is rotating the hips excessively. Keep your hips square to the floor to ensure all the right muscles are working and to prevent unnecessary stress on your spine.

Incorrect Hand Placement: Placing your hands too far forward or too far back can lead to shoulder strain. Ensure your hands are placed directly under your shoulders to maintain proper alignment and support.

what is a plank crawl

Variations of Plank Crawl

To keep your workouts interesting and challenging, you can try different variations of the plank crawl. These modifications add intensity and target additional muscle groups for a more comprehensive workout.

Plank Crawl with Push-Up

Description: Integrate a push-up after each step to increase intensity. Move your right hand and left foot forward, perform a push-up, then repeat with the other side.

Benefits: Adds upper body strength training to the core workout, enhancing muscle development in the chest, shoulders, and arms.

Plank Crawl with Knee Touch

Description: Touch your knee to your elbow as you move each leg forward. Start in a high plank, crawl forward, and as you step, bring your knee to touch your elbow.

Benefits: Enhances core engagement and flexibility, specifically targeting the obliques and improving mobility.

Reverse Plank Crawl

Description: Perform the crawl in reverse, moving backward instead of forward. Begin in a high plank position and step back with alternating hands and feet.

Benefits: Challenges coordination and works different muscle groups, including the lower back and glutes, while maintaining core stability.

Safety and Precautions

Ensuring safety while performing the plank crawl is crucial for avoiding injuries and getting the most out of your workout. Here are some key precautions to keep in mind.

Warm-Up: Warming up before starting the plank crawl is essential to prepare your muscles and joints for the exercise. A proper warm-up increases blood flow, improves flexibility, and reduces the risk of injury. Spend at least 5-10 minutes doing light cardio and dynamic stretches to get your body ready.

Proper Form: Maintaining proper form throughout the plank crawl is vital to prevent injuries and maximize effectiveness. Ensure your body forms a straight line from head to heels, engage your core, and keep your hands directly under your shoulders. Avoid letting your hips sag or rotate, as this can put undue stress on your lower back and shoulders.

Listening to Your Body: Always listen to your body and stop if you experience any pain or discomfort, particularly in your lower back or shoulders. Overexerting yourself or pushing through pain can lead to injuries. If something doesn't feel right, take a break, reassess your form, and consider modifying the exercise to suit your current fitness level.

 Plank Crawl

Incorporating Plank Crawls into Your Workout Routine

Frequency and Sets: To get the most out of plank crawls, aim to perform them 2-3 times per week. Start with 2-3 sets of 10-20 steps, depending on your fitness level. As you build strength and endurance, you can gradually increase the number of steps or sets to continue challenging your muscles.

Complementary Exercises: For a well-rounded core workout, pair plank crawls with other effective core exercises. Consider incorporating traditional planks, mountain climbers, and Russian twists into your routine. These exercises work together to strengthen different areas of your core, providing a comprehensive approach to building stability and strength. This combination will help you achieve a balanced and strong midsection.


Q: How often should I do plank crawls?

A: Aim to do plank crawls 2-3 times per week for best results.

Q: Can plank crawls help with back pain?

A: Yes, they can strengthen your core, which may help alleviate back pain, but ensure proper form to avoid strain.

Q: What muscles do plank crawls target the most?

A: Plank crawls primarily target the core, shoulders, and arms.

Q: Are plank crawls suitable for beginners?

A: Yes, beginners can start with fewer steps and focus on proper form.

Q: Can I incorporate plank crawls into a HIIT workout?

A: Absolutely, plank crawls can be an effective component of a HIIT workout, enhancing both strength and cardio.


Plank crawls offer a dynamic and effective way to strengthen your core, improve stability, and enhance overall fitness. By engaging multiple muscle groups and adding movement to the traditional plank, this exercise provides a comprehensive workout that can be easily integrated into your routine. Remember to maintain proper form, listen to your body, and complement plank crawls with other core exercises for the best results.

Incorporate plank crawls into your fitness routine to reap the benefits of improved core strength and overall fitness. With consistency and dedication, you'll notice significant improvements in your stability, coordination, and muscle tone.

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