Benefits of the Crab Reach Exercise

Motion

The Crab Reach is a great bodyweight exercise with a whole bunch of options of use before, during and after a workout.  

For a simple bodyweight move, this exercise offers a lot of benefits. 

Benefits of the Crab Reach

  • Posterior chain activation and hip extension
  • Active Thoracic Mobility
  • Anterior body stretch (hip flexors, quads, torso)
  • Shoulder stability/endurance emphasis in loaded shoulder
  • Trunk rotation
  • Right and Left Side 
  • Low-impact

Combat Sitting 

The Crab Reach is a great exercise to battle/off-set the negative effect of long duration sitting. 

It’s not “the cure”, the only tool or the “best” tool, but it’s a good one to implement on a regular basis.   

Reversing aches and pains caused by primarily long duration sitting requires dedication, discipline, and volume.  There is no quick fix.  

A quick hip flexor stretch, thoracic mobilization, and glute bridge are not going to cancel out 8+ hours of sitting in the same turtle-like, wound up position.  

Body restoration takes time, effort, consistency and volume.  Lots of repetitions, likely lots of time and an aggressive mindset.  Assuming you’re doing everything right, expect improvements over time.

Most people slump like a turtle while sitting.  Sitting like a slouchy turtle for 8-10 hours per day, 5 days per week isn’t good for our bodies.

We become the positions we use most.  

Fill in Gaps with Movement Training

Strength and conditioning built from traditional resistance training can benefit greatly from practicing multi-planar movements like the crab reach.   

Deadlifts are great.  Chin-ups are great.  Rows, push-ups and rotational core training are all great.

These are fundamental movements to build a strong body.  

But there are movement gaps leftover from each of these exercises.  

Once you’re on the floor crawling, transitioning between locomotion exercises, you find out pretty quick there’s a difference between squatting up and down with lots of weight on the bar and moving gracefully through space.  

It’s humbling. 

Exploring bodyweight oriented movement is a key piece of the fitness puzzle that will improve your movement IQ and create a well-functioning body.  

What’s a well-functioning body?

Strong (proportionate to what a person needs to thrive in daily life), mobile, confident in many different postures/positions/patterns, conditioned, free of aches and pains. 

Ground-based conditioning is a great way to backfill any gaps resistance training is not designed to address.  

Free-flowing, multi-planar fitness. 

Practicing postures and movement patterns less common to daily life. 

Improving strength, mobility and stability in uncommon movements make everyday exercises feel easy. 

Rotation

Looking at the average person’s exercise favorites, it’s usually a shortlist made up of linear resistance training and a sprinkling of cardio. 

Break out of the linear matrix. 

Every repetition of Crab Reach moves the body through a multi-planar, active range of motion.  

Through the range of motion, the body will extend and rotate.  

The twist is visible from the hip flexor, moving diagonally through the mid-section to the loaded shoulder.  

How to Use Crab Reach in Workouts

Ground-based bodyweight movement is extremely versatile.   

Keeping it simple, here are a few different options to integrate the crab reach into daily fitness:

  •  In the warm-up
  •  Filler exercise during a lifting session
  •  As part of a flow sequence

Crab Reach can be practiced in isolation or as a combination. 

I recommend practicing new movements in isolation to increase focus on technique. 

Practicing an exercise in isolation is better to understand the mechanics and demands is best. 

Isolating the exercise will give you the opportunity to focus on the mechanics of the movement and spatial awareness.

Warming Up with the Crab Reach

Movement flow exercises are perfect for pre-workout warm-ups. 

These movements are generally dynamic, full range of motion exercises that require movement into and out unique body positions, angles and tempo.  

Crab reach can serve as a valuable movement prep before exercises like deadlifts or kettlebell swings.

Crab Reach as Part of the Workout


Positioning the Crab Reach as part of a Tri-Set is a great way to isolate and practice the exercise while staying active/productive during a strength training session. 

Here’s an example a simple Tri-Set:

Exercise A) Front Squats

Exercise B) Chin-Ups

Exercise C)  Crab Reach

Crab Reach acts as a non-competing exercise with the front squats and chin-ups. 

Flow Training

Crab Reach can be used to create a simple bodyweight flow.

Start with two exercises separated by a switch to keep it simple.  Here’s an example:

The video above is an example of a simple movement sequence.

For an added challenge, increase the number of exercises in the sequence to 4, 5, 6 and beyond. 

Adding more exercises to create longer flows is great for the mind-body connection. 

The ultimate goal of movement training is improvisation, which is essentially moving without a plan.

Improvisational movement is an idea I plucked from Ido Portal’s movement hierarchy, which looks like this:

Isolation —> Integration —>  Improvisation

Read more about Ido Portal Method here.

Reps/Sets/Time 

In the beginning, keep the reps low.  

6-8 reps per side is a good place to start.

Focus on a slow and controlled tempo through the fullest range of motion you can make happen.

After you are feeling good about the mechanics, increase the volume. 

Don’t be shy about bumping up the reps to 15-20 reps per side.  Setting a timer can be a nice option.  

Not interested in counting reps?  

Set a timer and go.  Alternating right and lefts for 2-5 minute timed sets can free’s you up from having to count reps. 

Summary…

  • Bodyweight ground-based movements are effective for building strength, mobility, endurance, and movement IQ
  • Crab Reach is a versatile exercise that can be performed anywhere and anytime.  
  • Benefits of the Crab Reach include posterior chain activation, anterior body lengthening, thoracic mobility, body awareness in space.
  • The Crab Reach is great to include in warm-ups, during the workout or as flow training.  
  • The Crab Reach is an effective exercise to help mitigate aches/pains from sitting, restore function.

Want to Go Deeper? Check This Out…  

Vahva Fitness has created a fully streamable bodyweight-based movement program called Movement20XX.

The movement curriculum in Movement20XX is progressive, challenging, and scalable for beginners, intermediates and all the way up to people seeking movement mastery.   

Movement training is easily scaled to suit each person’s skill level.

Movement20XX is one of a small number of hand-picked online fitness programs I support. 

 

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