When it comes to animals you’d imagine taking fitness cues from the crab might not feature near the top of the list. A magisterial grizzly bear or a regal lion perhaps, but a crab?
However, you’d be doing both yourself and the sideways scuttlers a disservice if you ignored them entirely, as the crab walk is a very simple and effective way to work out a whole load of muscles in a short space of time.
Your shoulders and triceps will feel the heat of supporting your upper body, while your hamstrings and quads do the job for your bottom half. In between, keeping your hips raised hits the abs and glutes hard. The higher your hips, the harder your core will work.
How To Do The Crab Walk
This might be one for at home when no one else is around. It should never be embarrassing to do any kind of exercise, but a crab walk might confuse anyone who interrupts you more than a press-up would.
Start by sitting on the floor with your feet out in front of you, hip-width apart. Plant your palms behind you and push up onto your hands and feet so your hips are raised. Then walk back and forth for a minute – you’ll be surprised how tough it is to keep scuttling. The faster you go, the harder it will be.
It’s a great addition to circuit training, or if you want to get all your crab walking in at once before moving on to something else, try and do three to five minutes of it, with 30 seconds’ rest in between each minute of crabbing.
Crab Walk Variations
This variation can be done in one place, making it a handy core-crunching alternative to the crab walk when scuttling space is limited. Get into your crab position – hips raised and your weight supported on your hands and feet – and alternate kicking your legs as high as you can. Try to get your leg straight when you kick, although those living in less flexible bodies might find they have to keep their knees bent slightly.
If you get tired of walking or kicking like a crab, you might like to up the challenge by attempting the crab crunch. This exercise really stretches the limits of what you could imagine a crab actually doing, but it’s a great workout for the core. From your crab position bring one elbow and the opposite knee together, alternating sides with each rep. It’s a test of both balance and strength, and there’s every chance you’ll fall over a couple of times, so save this one for a softer floor.
You’ve walked, you’ve kicked and you’ve crunched, which means there’s only one thing left to do – dance. This is the toughest of all the crab-based exercises and hits muscles all over the body, with your core, hamstrings, glutes and shoulders working hardest of all. Once again you start by getting into the crab position, which should be quite familiar to you by now. Lift your left leg straight up and touch your toes with your right hand. Then come back to the starting crab position and repeat with the opposite limbs. Supporting your body on just two limbs while adopting this position is a real challenge, so definitely find a soft surface to fall on when you lose your balance.
Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.
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