How to Make a Home Workout Out of Crawling and Kettlebell Swings

Motion

Today’s home workout includes two exercises that are perfect for the home gym: crawling and kettlebell swings.  

The theme is SIMPLICITY.  

Combining two exercises might sound limited, but if you select the right exercises it can be a deadly way to achieve a total-body training effect. 

Workouts don’t need to be complicated to be effective.  There doesn’t need to be a long list of exercises to work through.  

Alternating between two non-competing movements reduces decision fatigue, makes the workout time efficient and keeps things focused.

I could design a 5-day per workout training program with each day focused on two major movement patterns and a sprinkling of cardio conditioning.

It’d look something like this:

Day 1:  Mobility, Crawling, Kettlebell Swings

Day 2:  Mobility, Upper Body Pull, Squat

Day 3:  Mobility, Cardio Circuit

Day 4:  Mobility, Turkish Get-Ups, Flow Sequence

Day 5:  Mobility, Upper Body Push, Deadlift or Hip Thrust

A person could slip a core movement in on Days 1, 2 and 5 to complete the motif. 

👉👉👉 Notice each workout starts with dedicated joint mobility conditioning. 🤔

But in the spirit of keeping the main thing the main thing… today’s blog post is about crawling and kettlebell swings.  

Wait, isn’t crawling just for kids?

Nope.   

Adults can reap the rewards of crawling throughout life, even if just from the perspective of re-learning a movement skill.

This article will cover the benefits of crawling and kettlebell swings, variations of both exercises and how to organize them into nano-circuits sure to test your metal. 

Crawling

Even the worst-of-the-worst home gym spaces and cramped hotels are crawling approved, which is why I love it so much.  

6-8 feet of straightaway space can accommodate a dynamic crawl.  Even if you had to train in place, there are ways to modify the crawl.    

THERE ARE ALWAYS OPTIONS.

If you’re new to crawling start with flat surfaces.  However, as you gain strength and coordination with the patterns, consider increasing the challenge by introducing obstacles, crawling over, under and around different terrain creates a whole new challenge.  

Most people will be humbled by the difficulty of crawling.  It looks easy but it’s not.  

The shoulders, chest, core, and hips tire quickly, which is not necessarily an indicator of an effective workout, but more so a point to make for folks who think crawling looks “too easy”.  

I’ve been crawling consistently in my workouts for about 3 years now.  My first few sessions really sucked.  I lacked coordination, had limited endurance and really had no connection with my limbs.  Hand and foot contacts were loud and sloppy.  

God bless the process of adaptation. 🙌

Let’s close out this section with a few known benefits of crawling:

  •  Spatial awareness
  •  Total body strength and conditioning 
  •  Coordination
  •  Confidence (movement skill education)
  •  Minimalist (can be performed anywhere, anytime)
  •  Scalable for beginners to elite movers
  •  Easily adjusted to elicit different training effects
  •  Pair well with other exercises (lower body, pulling, swings)
  •  Natural movement other than lifting weights and linear cardio

Kettlebell Swings

Kettlebell swings pack a punch considering how minimalist they are.  

If you’ve got 1 kettlebell, you’re GOOD TO GO.  And not just good to engage in swings.  You’ve got access to the entire catalog of kettlebell exercises, combinations, and workouts.

Like crawling, kettlebell swings can be performed in extremely small spaces, outside, hotel rooms, etc.  This makes swings an excellent exercise choice for home gyms.  

Loaded cardio training, which some refer to as metabolic conditioning, is a great fat loss accelerator.  Kettlebell swings, in particular, seem to strip fat but hold on to hard-earned lean muscle.  

There are many case studies of people who have undergone incredible body transformations by leveraging a basic caloric deficit and higher volume kettlebell swings.  

Power training is essential for aging adults.  As we age, we lose power roughly faster than strength.  Kettlebells swings can improve power with a short learning curve. 

Benefits of kettlebell swings:

  • Increased power for the go muscles (posterior chain)
  • Builds a strong back
  • Grip endurance
  • Quick learning curve
  • Minimalist… 1 kettlebell for a great workout
  • Time-efficient total body training
  • Cardio, both aerobic and anaerobic
  • Pair well with other exercises (ex: crawling)

Crawling Variations 

📺 Forward/Backward Crawl

📺 Sideways (Lateral) Crawl

📺 Bear Walk

📺 Lizard Crawl

You can see how the lizard crawl and bear walk differ with regard to hip position.  

Bear walks keep the hips high with the arms straight (soft elbows).  The lizard crawl drops the hips close to the floor and with elbows flexed.   

 

Kettlebell Swing Variations

The video above demonstrates 3 basic kettlebell swing variations:

  • 2-hand kettlebell swing
  • 1-hand kettlebell swing
  • Hand-to-hand swing

There are a lot more variations to explore, but I would consider these to be the fundamentals. 

We will pair these variations up with a crawling pattern for each of the nano-circuits shared below. 

Nano-Circuit Training

[I made up the Nano-Circuit description, so don’t go searching for any white paper support.]

Nano-Circuits are work-sets that include 3 exercises or less.  

Attacking smaller circuits with only 2 exercises being performed in alternating fashion for set reps or time is a great way to focus on the task at hand.  

Reducing the exercises removes the amount of thinking involved, or having to remember what exercise comes next and for how many reps, time under tension, etc.  

All of your energy can be directed at moving well.  

Here are a few ideas for you to try:          

Forward/Backward Crawl + 2-Arm Kettlebell Swings

Accumulate 20 yards of forward and backward crawling.  The target distance for the crawl should not burn you out on the first set.  After finishing the crawl, step up to the kettlebell and perform 10 swings.  

Side-to-Side Crawl + Single Arm Kettlebell Swings

Accumulate 20 yards of side to side crawl.  If 20 yards is too far, shorten the distance.  Upon finishing the crawl, step up to the kettlebell and perform 10 reps of 1-hand swings.  

The Medley:  FW/BW/Side-to-Side + Bear Walk + 2 -Arm Swings

Let’s shake things up a little bit and include forward, backward, side-to-side crawl, bear walk… and then 2-arm swings. Perform each crawl variation for 10 yards before switching to the next variation.  Swing the kettlebell 10 times. 

Lizard Crawl + Hand to Hand Kettlebell Swings

Obliques are going to take a beating with this combo.  The lizard crawl is one of the toughest crawling patterns. Lizard crawling might require shortening the crawl distance because of how aggressive it is.  Play around with it.  Perform 5 reps per arm with the hand to hand swings.  Use a lighter kettlebell if needed. 

I am a HUGE proponent of moving with discipline. 

Not every exercise needs to be picture-perfect from the get-go.

Beginners will feel and look wobbly, which is why selecting an exercise variation of the appropriate difficulty level is so important. 

Even with simple exercises, movement mechanics are rarely sexy in the early days.

No matter which exercise variations you choose, establish the discipline DO IT RIGHT, versus opting to do it fast, intensely or while versus blasting through it chasing burn. 

Generally, moving slow to learn exercises and develop strength, mechanics, and coordination.  

I think people chase fatigue by rushing through exercises far too early in the process.

Learn slow, create a solid foundation, then add in the sexy stuff.

A fun challenge is making a 10-yard crawl last 60 seconds or longer

 

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