Arguably, one of the most confusing aspects about the Lizard Crawl, a ground-based locomotion drill brought to fame by Ido Portal, is where the heck is a true beginner supposed to start?
To be clear, when I say “true beginner”, I am not talking about a person previously a competitive gymnast, high-level athlete or even a person who’s just completed the Gymnastics Bodies 12-week course and moving like a champ.
I’m describing a person who has an average capacity to move (but is motivated to learn) and interested in learning more about these fantastic drills. Or, maybe a “true beginner” is a person who’s looking to re-establish a workout regimen and hasn’t moved purposefully in a great while.
Either way, I applaud you for stopping by and learning how to crawl like a lizard.
The goal of this article is to provide several launching points to use as a gradual work up into the full Lizard Crawl. Each successive Lizard Crawl progression is purposed to provide a gentle introduction to the body position and loading, in order to prevent overwhelming the body (and the mind) with the complexity of the full Lizard Crawl.
A full-blown Lizard Crawl has a deceptive number of parts moving simultaneously and requires a combination of mental processing and physical capability. There’s an incredible amount of mind-body connection needed to crawl in this position. So, rather than rushing into the sexy dynamic variations, tripping over yourself or becoming frustrated, start by breaking up the movement into sections and training each section exclusively.
Personally, I believe it’s best to start by practicing static exercises first. By training in one place, you’re removing some of the heavy thinking on how to move next in the Lizard Crawl, which believe it or not, is half the battle. First experiences in this low position can leave a person wondering how they’re supposed to move an inch, much less 15-20 yards.
If you’re addicted to motion, static training can be a boring rinse and repeat activity, but it’s important to pound on the basics before moving on. Give each of these exercises a shot, even if you think you’re beyond the progression.
[All of the exercise progressions listed below assume you’re able to do 15-20+ traditional body weight push-ups without issue. If not, certainly continue to read on, but hammer away on upper body resistance training first to establish a base of strength.
Ido often refers to traditional resistance training as “isolation training”.
Lizard Crawl Progression #1: Push-Up with Alternating Foot Placement
The goal of this first drill is to practice the feel of the lizard crawl while reducing the amount of strength needed to do so. Using two arms into the descent accomplishes this.
Video embed coming soon… click the icon or here
- Step the foot up to the outside of hand and plant.
- Lower down into and out of a push-up.
- Return to high plank position.
Sets/Reps: 3-4 sets of 6-10 per side
When to progress: If you’re technically sound with 10 reps per side, move on to progression #3.
*** Using a pair of carpet slides will assist this simple exercise. Carpet slides are a valuable training tool. Besides being useful for a wide range of bodyweight exercises (and resistance training), carpet slides help to provide a fundamental understanding of ground-based crawling technique, with relatively low-friction.
Lizard Crawl Progression #2: Carpet Slide Upper-Body Reach and Press
The lizard crawl requires respectable upper body strength. Lifting the arms with grace, placing them softly on the floor in a low crawl position is an uncommon pattern of movement. It requires strength through a fuller range of motion. The strength needed for lizard crawling is very different from the strength needed during an isolation exercise like a push-up. Push-ups will help you will lizard crawling, but only to point.
Anticipate the arms feeling heavy in the low crawl position.
The premise of this next drill is to introduce load the working arm while practicing the arc range of motion using the carpet slide. Over time, decrease hand pressure on the carpet slide, eventually removing the slide completely.
Video embed coming soon, but for now, click the icon or here
Sets/Reps: 3-4 sets of 5-8 per arm.
When to progress: If you’re technically sound with 8 repetitions, move on to progression #3.
Progression of this exercise: Tempo changes everything. Slow down the descent to the floor and also the arm moving through the arc.
Lizard Crawl Progression #3: Alternating Lower-Body Step and Reach
Video embed coming soon, but for now, click on the icon or here
- Starting in a high plank position, step one foot to the outside of the same side hand. (The side you step to will be opposite of the working arm)
- Slowly lower your chest to 1-2 inches above the floor.
- With soft pressure, slide the unloaded hand out into full extension.
- Pause for a moment, breathe, feel the position.
- Slide the hand back in, return the foot and press up to the high plank.
- That’s one repetition.
Sets/Reps: 3-4 sets of 8-10 reps on each side.
When to progress: If you’re technically sound with 10 repetitions on each side, move on to dynamic crawling variations (video).
Bringing it home…
*** One of the best cues in movement training is to move quietly. Less noise through a robust range of motion implies full control over the movement.
One last important training tip: all of these drills can be performed with stretch band assistance. Stretch band assistance allows reduces body weight loading to encourage technique execution.
Some folks have steered away from using stretch bands to assist exercises like chin-ups, pull-ups, push-ups, single leg squats in recent years, but I am a HUGE advocate of using stretch bands for gradual load progression. Any stretch bands will do, though RubberBanditz bands are spreading like wildfire.
Give these exercises a shot and be mindful of what’s taking place as you’re inside of the training session.
The secret sauce to progress is disciplined effort and consistency. Practice and you will experience results.