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

 

Beginner Flow Training: 5 Challenging Bodyweight Exercise Combinations

Motion

Natural movement flow is a key training element missing from most people’s fitness regimens.

Including movement combinations, ground-based exercises and sequences bridge the gap between linear resistance training and natural movement.

Practicing exercises in isolation essential for developing performance.  

What is isolation?  

Deadlifts, front squats, push-ups and pulling without the addition of any add-on exercises, using a work-then-rest format, is isolation.  

You’re isolating an exercise and performing it for a set number of sets, reps and rest.

In a separate blog post, I dove deeper into Ido Portal’s general training template, which included an overview of his methods following this approach:

Isolation 👉 Integration 👉 Improvisation

Walk into any gym, and you’re likely going to see people exercising in isolation.  

Perform a set of deadlifts, rest, check Instagram, a sip of water, then back to the next set of deadlifts.

This is the isolation phase of movement training.

Movement Flow

If you’re looking to add a fresh challenge to your workouts, combining exercises together to create movement flow sequences is a great way to do that. 

Several years ago, I started mixing and matching traditional movement patterns and non-traditional exercises together to create 2 or 3 exercise flow sequences.

Here’s an example:


Gym workouts and real-world movement can be very different experiences.  

While I value pursuing a mechanically perfect squat, do I ever stop to align my feet before squatting in a real-world scenario?

NEVER.

The modified squat I’m using in a real-world situation is often combined with 1 or 2 other movements.  

Squat down, lunge up, twist and carry.  

It’s rarely every just a perfect bodyweight squat in the real-world.

One goal of controlled environment training (aka gym workouts) is maximum transferability.

We lift and conditioning with the idea that it will enhance the physical moments (daily tasks, sports, and recreation, health, etc) help us improve the functionality of our body.

Yet, natural bodyweight movement is completely absent from most workout templates.

Crawling, climbing, rolling, navigating changing levels (laying to standing, fall training, etc), rotation or fusing exercises together in a pre-planned movement sequence or improvised movement work where you don’t know what’s coming next.

Practicing how to transition efficiently and effectively between two different body positions or patterns just makes sense to me.

Benefits of Movement Flow Training

👉  Improve movement IQ (confidence, dissipating fear of unexplored positions and tasks).

👉  Coordination and skill-building.

👉  Improving spatial awareness and how to transition between movements.

👉 Strength at more angles and positions.

👉  Injury mitigation via conditioning tissues to handle stress.

👉 Improve mind-body connection 

👉  Control over one’s bodyweight. 

👉  Fun, refreshing, never boring. 

Movement flow is very challenging for the mind, which to me, is one of the greatest benefits of flow work.

While you’re learning a flow, you really have to think it through to execute it properly and avoid getting twisted up, trips and falls.

“Ok, so my hand goes here, foot over the top, create tension, then relax, drop down, etc…”

The elevated thinking involved with a lot of ground-based movements is a major benefit.

Plus, introducing flow training is refreshing and fun. 

Hours in the gym working the same exercises, chasing the numbers (weight increases, more reps, more sets, faster finishing times) can get quite bland. 

Remaining excited every to move every single day is best for the long-term.   

5 Bodyweight Movement Combinations

#1  Parallette Bar Pass Through to L-Sit

Parallette Bars are inexpensive to buy and easy to build from PVC pipes.

Start in a push-up position, passing the legs through the middle of the parallettes right into an L-Sit.  

If an L-Sit is too aggressive, transition into a tuck position instead.

Hold the L-Sit for a 2-3 second count, then reverse the motion back to the start position. 

Perform 2-3 sets of 8-10 reps.

No parallettes?  

Chairs, stools or yoga blocks a good equipment substitutes.      

#2  High Bridge Rotation to Lizard Crawl

A reasonable looking back bridge used to be impossible for me.  My body was stiff as a board and incapable of arching through the spine. My shoulders lacked mobility, etc.  

Using dedicated joint mobility drills really accelerated the process, expanding the positions I was able to get into and out of, but bulletproofing my joints as well. 

MyDailyMobility is my recommendation for mobility conditioning. 

Today, I practice some variation of back bridging in nearly every workout, either as maintenance or to make progress.  

High Bridge Rotations require an adequate amount of spinal extension, shoulder mobility, stability and strength, which is why I recommend adopting a mobility program to accelerate the process.  

From an exercise progress perspective, practicing basic back bridges is the starting point.  

Adding in the rotation will come after.  

Transitioning out of the high bridge rotation can be a dizzying experience.  Refocus your vision, lower down and crawl lizard-style. 

The lizard crawl is an amazing strength and conditioning exercise.  

Here is a variation better suited for beginners: 

  Alligator Crawl

  Hand Slide Lizard Crawl 

  Elbow Crawl

#3 Burpee Sprawl – Push Up – Squat – L Sit

Perform a push-up, hop forward into a deep squat position, place the hands on the floor slightly behind the butt cheeks as the legs extend and LIGHTLY tap the floor with the heels. 

Reverse the flow.  

Keep the sprawl motion soft and graceful. 

#4  Lunge to Pistol Squat Flow

Lower body training is essential for health and performance. 

Our legs need to be strong and well-conditioned, but also mobile and capable of expressing strength and stability throughout a large range of motion.

Especially the hips.  Hip mobility training has been a game-changer for me.

This combination connects two movement patterns:  lunges and squats.  

During the transition from front to back, do your best to avoid making contact with the floor.

This is one combination probably best executed for reps. 

3-5 sets of 6-10 reps per side will work. 

#5  Lizard Crawl + Low Scorpion 

This lizard crawl + low scorpion combination is a unique, high-value movement combination. 

There’s no beginning or end with this sequence, which makes it a great bodyweight-based cardio alternative.

This flow is relatively compact, making it perfect for a small home gym or other imperfect training spaces.  

Practice this sequence for repetitions or time. 

I like to set a timer and go.  Not having to keep track of reps allows me to focus on what my body is doing.  

Time-wise, I’ve used this flow for 5+ minutes continuous and it’s a challenge every time.

MOVEMENT20XX 

Fusing movements together to create flows is a great addition to traditional lifting and cardio, and is sure to bring a refreshing challenge into workouts. 

If you want to learn more about movement flow training, I highly recommend checking out the MOVEMENT20XX program from Vahva Fitness.

MOVEMENT20XX is one of the best movement-based products I’ve come across.  

Eero Westerberg did a brilliant job organizing and communicating the techniques of each exercise, how to create flows and leverage this method of training to build a high functioning body.

 

Related Blog Posts

✅ Basics of Movement 20XX| The A-B-C’s of Crawling Exercises

✅ 14 Exercise Total Body Warm-Up Routine

✅ A Giant List of Effective Core Exercises| Part 1

Basics of Movement 20XX| The A-B-C’s of Crawling Exercises

Motion

Movement 20XX is a brilliantly designed bodyweight fitness program that will build a  beginner’s body using appropriate exercise progressions, or challenge an experience mover looking to develop movement mastery. 

Created by Eero Westerberg, Movement 20XX is a bodyweight ground-based movement training system that integrates different training methodologies into one unique workout experience.  

With a closer look, you’ll notice elements of yoga, ground-based locomotion, and various gymnastics drills fused into one flexible training system.

Crawling is a key element of Movement 20XX.

The best fitness online programs coach up exercises in a simple and concise way, but also provide regressions and progressions to those exercises.  

With this approach, beginners can master the fundamentals and climb the ladder, while people who are higher up on the skill ladder can pursue mastery.

Everyone benefits.

Natural (bodyweight-based) movement training is a absent from most workout programs.

Preserving (ideally improving) the ability to handle our bodies in any environment, free of fancy weights and machines, moving through space/climbing/crawling/balancing/navigating…

… keeps younger for longer.

Ground Based Crawling

There are 3 basic locomotion patterns I’d like to share today:  ape, forward crawl and the crab walk.

All of these movements are bodyweight based and considered to be fundamental patterns.  

Ape will likely give people the most headaches with regard to challenge.  Smoothing out this pattern requires significant upper body strength and integration.  

Forward crawling will be the most recognizable pattern for a lot of people.   is going to be the most recognizable as it’s a basic crawling pattern.

Crab Walk is a supine (chest facing up) version of traditional crawling shared above.  

 

Ape

Forward Crawl

Crab Walk

Adding Crawling and Locomotion to Workouts

I started slow with crawling.  Not because I wanted to, because I had to.  

Even the basic patterns crushed me for short distances.  

#humblepie

Over the course of a few months, I increased the crawling frequency from 1-2 times per week (mainly during warm-ups), to  daily practice for longer distances and durations.  

I’ve posted several videos on the Meauxtion YouTube page demonstrating 5+minutes of traveling forms/crawling.  

5+ minutes may seem like a long time to be crawling without rest… and you’re right… it is. 

Ideas For Use…

When I’m looking to challenge my core and upper extremities with some loading but still engage in movement, crawling serves a valuable purpose.  

I train in the morning 99% of the time.

On days when I wake up and feel residual fatigue or muscle soreness from the previous day’s resistance training or metabolic conditioning workouts, I reach for ground based only sessions. 

It’s gentle on the joints and muscles, challenging to navigate and provides a sufficient training effect.  

While moving, I adjust the tempo of the movements (fast and slow) and also integrate each pattern into sequences.  

Ramping up tempo of the crawl will elevate heart rate quickly and create a decent little cardio training effect.

For beginners, crawling is learned best using a slow and controlled tempo.  

Slow and controlled practice allows for a better motor pattern education.  You’ll develop a better understanding of the mechanics and physical demands of each movement.  

Why Crawl?

Ground-based crawling and other locomotion patterns are both fun and challenging.  

You may find (as I did) that these patterns bring restore life into your workout regimen.  

Isolated resistance training day in and day out can get extremely monotonous. 

One secret to maintaining a healthy long-term relationship with your fitness is to keep training fresh.  

Choose activities that require increased physical AND mental engagement.  

Most of us don’t have the will power or capacity to sustain a workout regimen it despises.  You’ll fizzle out over time.

Make sure to find a workout structure that’s results oriented, challenging, yet ENJOYABLE. 

I love a good physical challenge, and these bodyweight ground-based movement patterns provide it every single time.

Engaging in more locomotion-based exercises reminded me it’s possible to finish a workout exhausted but REFRESHED, not beaten into a pulp.  

A 20-25 yard lizard crawl is both exhausting and humbling.  For me personally, diving deeper into crawl work was a splash of cold water to the face.  

Bodyweight training is an anytime, anywhere with zero equipment and limited space method of building fitness.  

Small, odd shaped, cluttered spaces become ideal areas to workout when bodyweight training is the focus.   

👉 For more info, check out the Movement 20XX

 

Related blog posts:

 

 

Kyle