The goal of this article is to present several of my homemade lizard crawl regressions to get a newbie acclimated. Most of these drills were designed to help myself better understand the mechanics of the lizard crawl, and I’d like to share them with you…
The Lizard Crawl exercise, from my point of view, is the king of the ground-based locomotion drills. It’s a monster of an exercise, best broken down into digestible segments if you’re a beginner to such training.
Lizard crawling is jam-packed with physical benefits that spill over into all other areas of one’s physical practice. The lizard crawl will test joint range of motion and stability, muscular endurance and strength, core strength/stability/endurance and motor control all in one shot.
Another positive side effect of lizard crawling is conditioning. It’s pure work when you’re inefficient and learning. Expect to be winded with heart rate will be soaring after several yards.
Although a successful lizard crawl is a total body effort, the upper body is tested to a great degree. The lizard crawl elicits a similar training effect to more common crawling variations (bear, crab, etc) and progresses it a step further.
Remaining in the low position for the duration of the crawl is what does most people in.
A full blown lizard crawl is deceptively difficult. Watching someone like Ido Portal lizard crawl (a world class movement practitioner), it’s easy to think, “Doesn’t look too bad, it’s just crawling, I could do that”. And maybe you can. If so, good on you.
But for most people, the mechanics are complex. As mentioned earlier, joint position and range of motion, the timing of the hands and feet, core activation in difficult positions may completely foreign.
Foreign = struggle bus.
I do suggest you watch several of these videos and test abilities to give yourself a baseline for improvement.
Even if you’re able to crawl several feet on both sides, the next challenge is to add some distance to the movement.
Without further ado, here are few more lizard crawl variations to slip into your workouts demonstrated by yours truly…
Lizard Crawl Variation #1 – 2 Hands + 1 Foot
In this variation, keep two hands in contact with the floor while practicing hip range of motion and foot placement. Softly move the knee up beyond waist height and place the ball of the foot on the floor. Lower into the bottom of the push-up, chest hovering roughly 2 inches above the floor. Pause, looking forward, return to the start position.
Lizard Crawl Variation #2 – Soft Arm Reach
Introduction to reaching with the lead arm. We will remain stationary for the time being. Expect the complexity to ramped up significantly once movement is introduced. This variation involves a soft slide of the lead arm, straight out and back in. This also provides some sensation of what it will feel like supporting the body on one arm, another challenging aspect of the lizard crawl.
Same exercise cues as the previous variation, lower step with the leg, plant with the ball of the foot, lower down with control, but now slide the hand out softly. Breathe.
Lizard Crawl Variation #3 – “Alligator” Arms and Legs
To give you a taste of some dynamic movement, here is the short-arm variation of the lizard crawl.
I refer to it as an “alligator” progression. The idea is to reach with a limited range of motion, keeping the elbows flexed and close to the rib cage. This elbow position is far more manageable versus reaching out into full extension.
Also, notice the limited range of motion on the foot placement. Plant with the ball of the foot, stabilize and gain control, breathe, now move the hands and support. Slowly move forward, don’t rush it.
This variation is a humbling introductory training stimulus to the full lizard crawl. Many will begin to understand the sheer complexity of the lizard crawl pattern after trying this.
The path to improvement is practice. Don’t be discouraged by your initial attempts. It may be a frustrating experience, even if you consider yourself to well conditioned.
It’s common to find joint mobility, stability, core strength and endurance to be lacking, all of which can be practiced using the three progressions I’ve shared.
Practice the progression that allows for technique achievement.
Each will lead you to the next and continual progress will be made.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Ido Portal Method training philosophy, check out this popular article I wrote several years ago…