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What Is an Alligator Crawl?

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  • Written By: T. Carrier
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 28 June 2014
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An alligator crawl is a type of body weight exercise. It somewhat resembles a push-up, in that the arms are used to support the body from a face-down position. Rather than using the arms to push the body up, however, the alligator crawl results when exercisers move themselves forward in the push-up position via hand-walking. The feet and lower body remain stationary in this exercise, resulting in a crawl. Several upper body muscles may be strengthened and toned with this exercise.

In general, body weight exercises focus on building strength and endurance. Examples include push-ups and pull-ups. Rather than using weighted objects, a body weight exercise relies on an exerciser's own weight for resistance. Increasing levels of resistance and increasing the time and amount of the exercise, or repetitions, are often used to elevate the benefits for long-term exercisers. Since these types of exercises do not require any additional equipment and they can be adjusted easily, they can be helpful for exercisers of all levels and capabilities.

Performing an alligator crawl is a relatively simple process. It first involves lying down on the stomach and then elevating the upper body with the arms until the chest is off the floor. The supporting arms should remain straight, as should the back. With the tips of the toes still on the floor, the individual begins to move forward using the hands. The feet are not used for movement in this exercise, which create a drag-like crawl similar to an alligator’s gait.

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Exercises involving the alligator crawl are typically intended for increasing muscle strength and tone. Specifically, the movements build up the arm, stomach, and chest muscles. Squeezing in the abdominal area helps solidify stomach muscles, while the arm movements effectively work the shoulders and upper body. The initial positioning of the body in the alligator crawl is known as a plank, and it is a key core-strengthening position.

Like most exercises, the alligator crawl can be incorporated into a larger routine. An individual can select a small room or a portion of a larger room to perform the exercise. Crawls can then be performed for a few minutes of a program, or a few rotations of the exercise area. Similar body weight exercises that might work well with the alligator crawl include the bear crawl, the panther walk, and more traditional fare like pull-ups or handstands. An exerciser can also merge the alligator crawl with other forms of training, such as adding weights to the legs or performing the exercise on an inclined surface.

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