How to Inchworm: Techniques, Benefits, Variations

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Target: All body

Level: Beginners

The inchworm exercise offers a little bit of everything—it helps strengthen the muscles of the anterior chain (front half of the body) while stretching the muscles of the posterior chain (back half of the body). And because it targets your entire body to some extent, it keeps the blood flowing. This makes it a great move to incorporate into an active warm-up before strength training or an intense workout routine.

The movement itself looks exactly like its name suggests – a threadworm. You start standing, reaching your hands to the ground, taking your hands off your feet, into a plank position, before stepping your feet forward toward your hands and finally back to standing. Then you keep gathering information like a worm in time or over and over again.

The benefits of doing filariasis exercises

The inchworm exercise is a sure-fire movement to add to any routine. Because it has the ability to strengthen and stretch different muscle groups at the same time, it is ideally positioned to be included as part of an active warm-up or as part of a strength training routine. height.

The intensification of the movement comes when you enter, exit, and hold the plank portion of the movement. As you step your arms forward, away from your feet, shoulders, triceps, chest, and finally abs, the stabilizers of your shoulders and hips, glutes, and quads all work to support body weight as you step onto the board.

If you have a good baseline strength through these muscle groups, you’re unlikely to achieve massive strength gains doing the inchworm. But because it activates all of these muscles, this exercise is perfect as a warm-up before more endurance training.

Likewise, if you’re doing an intense interval training routine, you can use the inchworm as part of your “rest” interval to keep your heart rate up while you do it. Your cardiovascular system gets a little rest.

The extension of the movement is especially evident when you reach your arms toward the floor and begin to bring them forward, and again when you bring your feet forward toward your hands. In particular, you will feel a stretch through your hamstrings and calves, and may also feel a slight stretch through your glutes and lower back.

Additionally, if you do a more difficult version of the exercise (detailed below), you may experience a slight stretch through your shoulders and chest as you bring your arms forward from a full plank to an extended plank. Again, incorporating the inchworm into an active warm-up is a great way to stretch the muscle groups you intend to target during your workout without the need for static stretching.

If you’re not familiar 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 exercise you’re about to do. So, for example, 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 exercises you will perform during the workout, but without using additional resistance.

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The active warm-up is also designed to stretch the muscle groups you’ll be targeting without holding the stretch for a certain amount of time. This type of warm-up lubricates the wheels of your workout and helps prevent injury.

An exercise like the inchworm is ideal because it only uses your body weight to target every major muscle group. Try pairing it with aerial squats, crunches, knee raises, and side slides before working on your next strength-training routine.

Step by step instructions

There are two ways to do the inchworm—one involves traveling over a distance, requiring you to have at least 15 to 20 feet of space to move around, and the other way for you to stay in place, which doesn’t require much. space than about your length. own body.

While there’s no better or worse version, the traveling version requires more engagement of your lower body and is considered the typical version of the exercise. If you have free space, plan to use it and follow these step-by-step instructions. If you don’t have space, follow the revised version of the exercise, detailed below.

  1. Stand straight, feet hip-width apart. Check your posture — your ears should be in line with your shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles, belly in.
  2. Inhale, then as you exhale, look down at the ground and begin to reach toward the floor in front of your feet, allowing your back to arch forward, rolling each vertebra down. Allow your knees to slightly bend, if needed, to help your hands touch the ground.
  3. Place your hands on the floor in front of your feet. Inhale and bring your arms forward, in turn allowing your heels to lift off the floor as your body begins to straighten. With your hands directly under your shoulders, check your shape — you should be in a full plank position with your muscles, chest, quads, triceps, and shoulders, your body forming a straight line from your heels. to the top.
  4. Keep your legs relatively straight and start walking your feet forward, one at a time, toward your hands. This move will help you stretch your hamstrings, calves, and glutes as your hips begin to lift toward the ceiling. Exhale as you step forward.
  5. Stop when your legs are as close to your hands as you can comfortably bring them. Remember, you can bend your knees slightly to relieve hamstring strain, but try to keep them as straight as possible.
  6. Return to standing by slowly rolling your back up from your hips, straightening each vertebra. Inhale as you move. When you return to the starting position, you have completed one repetition. Continue for the duration or number of repetitions, depending on your workout.

Common mistake

In general, any mistake you make with the inchworm exercise is unlikely to cause major harm. The harm doesn’t come down to the possibility of injury (although as with any physical movement, there is always some chance of injury), but negating the full benefit of the exercise. This often happens when you are moving quickly or thoughtlessly, making the exercise sloppy. Slow down, focus on focusing on the whole body from head to toe, while keeping each step steady and controlled.

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Moving too fast

Inchworms aren’t exactly known for their breakneck speeds, so keep that in mind when making the move. Collapsing your torso quickly toward the ground as your hands touch the floor, sprinting your arms or legs forward, or jerking your back to stand are all good ways to gain muscle pull, or (more likely) miss out on the full strengthening and lasting benefits of the exercise.

Each phase of the movement should take at least a few seconds to complete. Try inhaling and exhaling to number six with each stage to keep the exercise slow and steady. So exhale for a count of six as you reach your arms toward the floor. Inhale for a count of six as you step your arms forward into a plank position. Exhale to a count of six as you walk your feet forward toward your hands, then inhale to a count of six as you roll your torso back to a standing position.

Do not participate in the core

It’s easy to forget your core when doing the inch exercise, relying more on your arms and legs to support your body through each stage of the exercise. This is especially true if you are moving too fast. The point is that you need your core to help protect your back from potential injury by preventing unwanted movement of the spine.

Signs that you’re not engaging your core include:

  • Draw your back from your hips to rest your hands on the floor
  • The hips sag when you’re in a full plank position
  • Push your torso back to a standing position, mainly using momentum from your lower body

That said, sagging hips are the most obvious of these signs if you’re doing a self-assessment. Look at yourself in the mirror and if your body doesn’t form a straight line from your heels to your head when you get into a plank position, with your hips dropping to the floor, then contract your muscles, pulling your navel toward your spine to help lift your hips. return to the neutral alignment position. Then, slow things down, focusing on keeping your core active throughout the exercise.

Bow your neck forward

It’s common practice to want to head to where you’re going. So when you touch the ground, when you get into a plank position, when you start to step your feet forward and when you stand up, you may be tempted to crane your neck to look ahead.

Unfortunately, this action pushes the alignment of your spine out of your body. For most people, it’s not likely to cause major problems, but it can lead to neck strain if you’re not careful. This is especially true if you are moving too fast and without control.

Pay attention to where you are looking throughout the exercise. If you find yourself looking up or looking forward in a way that makes your neck cock, bring your head to a neutral position.

Modifications and Variations

If you’re running low on space or if you’re just looking for a slightly less taxing version of inchworm, the best modification is to skip the moving version of the exercise and stay in place. Your hamstrings and calves won’t stretch as you move and you won’t experience as much cardio impact either, which is just a bit easier than the traditional version.

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To do the modification, stand up straight and start the exercise like you normally would – roll your back and torso forward as you touch the ground with your hands. Step your arms forward until you’re in a high plank position, checking to make sure your muscles are still working.

When you’re fully into plank, instead of bringing your foot forward toward your hand, reverse the movement and bring your hand back toward your foot. Once you’ve brought them back as far as you can, use your core and turn your back carefully to stand. Continue the exercise in time or repeat.

Want to join a challenge?

To give your upper body and core an even greater challenge, it’s important that you extend the board, flattening your body even further than a standard plank exercise. The rest of the exercise remains the same. The trick here is that you have to have strong muscles and shoulders to do the move safely, so work it out gradually.

When you reach the plank stage of the inchworm, with your hands under your shoulders, double-check that your center of gravity is engaged and that your hips are in line between your knees and shoulders. From here, step your hands further forward, one at a time, making sure you keep your core strong and straight.

Start by taking just one step forward with each hand. If it feels comfortable, keep moving your arms forward (you may need to get this far over time), until your torso is almost touching the ground.

Whenever you feel that your shoulders or core may not be able to safely support an exercise or affect form, stop reaching forward and move on to the next phase of the exercise. Practice by walking your feet towards your hands.

Safety and Precautions

In general, inchworm is a safe exercise for most people, especially when done in a controlled, steady manner. That said, anyone with hamstring strain, wrist pain, or shoulder pain, may feel uncomfortable performing the exercise.

If you try movement and cause pain, stop the exercise and instead choose other active warm-up exercises such as lunge walks, air squats, or steady movements between the board and the downward-facing dog. .


Incorporate this and similar moves into one of these popular exercises:

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