25 Jan Why should i do the Inchworm?
Benefits of Doing the Inchworm Exercise
The inchworm exercise is a solid movement to add to just about any routine. Because it has the ability to strengthen and stretch different muscle groups at the same time, it’s ideally positioned to be included as part of an active warm-up, or as part of a high-intensity interval training routine.
The strengthening part of the movement comes when you’re entering, exiting, and holding the plank portion of the movement. The stretching part of the movement is particularly apparent as you reach your hands toward the floor and start walking them forward, and again as you walk your feet forward toward your hands. You’ll feel the stretch through your hamstrings and calves, in particular, and might also feel a slight stretch through your glutes and low back.
Again, incorporating the inchworm into an active warm-up is a great way to fluidly stretch the muscle groups you plan to target during your workout without performing static stretching. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of an active warm-up, and why it’s beneficial, the idea is to mentally and physically prepare your body for whatever workout you’re about to take on. So, for instance, if you’re planning on doing a lower-body strength training routine, an active warm-up would include exercises that hit the same muscle groups in the same general way as the exercises you’re going to perform during your workout, but without using added resistance.
There are two ways to do the inchworm—one involves traveling across a distance, requiring you to have at least 5 to 10 metres of space to move, and the other simply has you stay in place, requiring no more space than roughly the length of your own body.
While neither version is better or worse, the traveling version requires more engagement of your lower body and is considered the typical version of the exercise. If you have the space available, plan on using it, and follow these step-by-step instructions. If you don’t have the space available, follow the modified version of the exercise, detailed below.
- Stand tall, your feet roughly hip-distance apart. Check your posture—your ears should be aligned over your shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles, your abdominals engaged.
- Take a breath in, then as you exhale, look down at the ground and start reaching your hands toward the floor in front of your feet, allowing your back to bend forward, rolling down one vertebra at a time. Allow your knees to bend slightly, as needed, to enable your hands to reach the ground.
- Place your hands on the floor in front of your feet. Inhale and walk your hands forward, one at a time, allowing your heels to lift off the floor as your body begins to straighten.
- Keep your legs relatively straight and begin walking your feet forward, one at a time, toward your hands. Exhale as you step forward.
- Stop when your feet are as close to your hands as you can comfortably bring them. Remember, you can bend your knees slightly to ease the stretch on your hamstrings, but try to keep them as straight as possible.
- Return to standing by slowly rolling your back up from the hips, straightening one vertebra at a time. Inhale as you go. When you’re back in the starting position, you’ve completed one repetition.
Don’t Move Too Fast
Inchworms aren’t exactly known for their breakneck speed, so keep that in mind when performing the movement. Collapsing your torso quickly toward the ground as your hands reach for the floor, sprinting your hands or feet forward will make you miss out on the full strengthening and stretching benefits of the exercise.
Each phase of the movement should take at least a few seconds to complete. Try inhaling and exhaling to a count of six with each phase to keep the exercise slow and steady. So, exhale to a count of 3 as you reach your hands toward the floor. Inhale to a count of 3 as you step your hands forward into plank. Exhale to a count of 3 as you walk your feet forward toward your hands, then inhale to a count of 3 as you roll your torso back to standing.