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Spread out now: Crawls, jumps teach power, control

There are a few areas in my gym that give me 20 to 60 feet of empty space in which to do some challenging exercises. I’m talking things such as walking lunges holding dumbbells, inchworms, farmer’s walks and even today’s exercise, dragon crawls. 

Some exercises just need more room to get the full effect. After learning the basics such as lunges and planks, you can progress them to movements that require you to cover some distance. 

You will definitely need some space for dragon crawls. They take a little practice to get the right-to-left transitions right. After a few tries you will move like a komodo dragon lurking across its home on an Indonesian beach. Take a look at Laura performing them in the video online at www.lvrj.com/trainer.  

Besides looking really cool, I like dragon crawls because they teach valuable principles. First, that the core is essential to movement. A floppy core will be unable to hold the body up during this exercise. And keeping the core tight while the arms and legs move can be tricky.

 Second, they condition the upper body to load itself with good form to perform an awkward pushup. In the case of the dragon crawl, it is more like a single-arm pushup while the other arm acts as a spotter. Putting the shoulder in a stable position is the secret to a strong bench press. Dragon crawls can teach that principle in a controlled environment.

Third, they require a decent amount of hip mobility without loading the hips or knees with weights. This comes in handy if you’re working on your squat depth.

Fourth, they are a difficult movement at first. That’s why they are a huge confidence builder when you get them down. Before long, you’re crawling across 10 to 20 feet of open gym floor and feeling great.

Dragon crawls work well in circuits. There is little setup and a trainer or gym buddy can watch your form. I even use them as part of an active warm-up. They mobilize and get the blood pumping at the same time.

Butt jumps. Need I say more? Jump and touch your heels to your butt before landing. You will need to have mastered the box jump of 12 to 16 inches to have sufficient hops to perform these. Butt jumps also teach principles that transfer well to other gym exercises and day-to-day life. The first is how to load the body correctly for a powerful movement. If your workout buddies do these with knees crashing in toward each other, then please correct them. Their knees will thank you. 

If viewing from the side, you observe their knees shooting forward farther than the toes, make the correction to bend the hips first. Remember the hips can take more of a load than the knees can. 

No, the heels don’t necessarily have to touch the glutes. Leg size and mobility may hold you back. The point is that you can jump high enough to make the effort. Landing softly is a must. It allows the energy of your landing to be absorbed by your entire body instead of just the knees or the hips. 

These, too, are a good addition to any circuit. They can even be done at home or away on road trips. The only thing you need are your legs.

Chris Huth is a Las Vegas trainer. He can be reached at 702trainer@gmail.com. Consult your physician before beginning any exercise program.

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