The vast majority of Obstacle Course Races include some type of crawling obstacle. Some races put you under barbwire, while others have ropes or cords. In my opinion, and from my experiences, crawls are one of the most physically draining obstacles. Of course, it depends on how long the crawl is, whether it's up hill, and if it's through mud, sand, or grass, but no matter what, they are tiring.
Crawling forces you to engage just about every muscle group in your body all at once. Most adults aren't used to, or conditioned for, crawling along the ground. As such, it takes training to improve the speed and efficiency of the crawl. Try adding these exercises to your workouts so that you can set PR's on the course!
The first exercise is the Bear Crawl. While you'll normally be crawling closer to the ground at a race than you are when performing a bear crawl, it engages all the same muscle groups (every muscle group) and forces them to all work together in almost the same way as a normal crawl. Bear Crawls, when done with proper form, also strengthen your core a ton which will be beneficial for your overall race performance. PS. Bear Crawls suck... but in a good way!
The next exercise is a Spiderman Crawl. During the Spiderman Crawl, your body will be hovering just above the ground. Your range of motion for your arms and legs will be very limited and they'll require you to keep tension on all your muscles all at once. Spiderman Crawls will be lower than most crawls during an OCR race but if you can become effective at training with them, then regular crawls will be much easier!
(Sorry, no Spiderman Crawl Video)
Lateral Plank Walks are the third exercise you should throw into your training routine in order to improve on crawls. During many crawl obstacles you'll have to be able to crawl laterally whether it's to pass someone slower than you, the course has a turn in it, or you need to avoid an extra muddy/rocky spot. As such, we need to strengthen our lateral movements through practical training. With Lateral Plank Walks, your body will be forced to engage virtually all the same muscle groups as a normal crawl while still moving along close to the ground.
I've been in several races where I've noticed myself and other athletes fall back several positions during the crawl because of exhaustion, and it's hard to come back from that and retake those positions afterwards. Crawl exercises/workouts are generally not the most "fun" so most athletes don't do them, but they will make a huge difference for your overall performance so start training them now!
If you have any questions about the training info in this article, please feel free to reach out to us! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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