This primal movement packs a punch when comes to benefits. It helps support functional strength and mobility, ideal for those looking for a simple bodyweight exercise that can be integrated into pretty much any workout or stretching routine.
Looking to improve strength?
Looking to improve flexibility?
It’s time to get familiar with the inchworm.
What is the Inchworm exercise?
The Inchworm exercise is a total body movement that requires no equipment. It is suitable for beginners and those looking for a gentle, low impact exercise. It is also often referred to as “walkouts.”
The inchworm is a great exercise to include in your workout routine because it can be used as a warm-up for more strenuous strength training exercises, or as a stand-alone exercise for active stretching. It doesn’t require any equipment and little space.
The inchworm exercise is a “standing-to-plank-back-to-standing” movement that engages your whole body. It is primarily a core exercise but it will engage your shoulders, back, arms, chest and legs.
The inchworm can be adapted to target specific muscles more, for example, holding the plank position longer will turn it into a grueling core workout. Or perhaps you want to really stretch out some sore hamstrings, in which case you may want to reach to the floor slowly with straight legs to get a deep stretch on the backs of your legs.
The intensity at which you perform inchworms will largely dictate if it feels like an intense HIIT exercise or a gentle dynamic stretch.
The inchworm is an exercise that can be used for a variety of purposes, including as an active warm-up, as a progression exercise, or as a way to add endurance to a high-intensity interval training routine.
If you’re new to the exercise, try it with your knees on the floor during the plank, and work your way up to full plank. If you’re adding it to an active warm-up, hold each position for 10 seconds as you progress through the exercise and focus on slow, controlled movements. And if you’re using it as part of a HIIT routine, perform it as one round of an interval, or as five rounds total, with a one-minute rest between rounds.
How to do the Inchworm
- Start by standing upright with your feet hip-to-shoulder-width apart.
- Forward fold with straight legs and reach your arms down towards the ground in front of you, keeping your head forward and back straight. (If you have weak knees, bend them slightly as you forward fold).
- Slowly walk your hands away from your feet, extending your body into a plank position.
- Hold the plank position for a few seconds.
- Slowly walk your hands back to your feet, raising your body back into an upright position.
The inchworm offers a whole host of benefits, namely strengthening the core, shoulders, back and chest, whilst simultaneously stretching out the hamstrings and calves.
Full Body Stretch
The inchworm is a great exercise to do when you’re feeling stiff and achy, as it helps to loosen up the back and chest.
Stretching out tight hamstrings and developing a stronger core are both fundamental for good posture. The Inchworm helps achieve both, making it a great exercise for posture.
It also helps to stretch out the shoulders and chest, which is great if you spend a lot of time hunched over a computer or laptop.
It’s also great for improving flexibility in the hamstrings and legs, which is handy if you’re a runner or cyclist. To really benefit, slowly lower yourself with straight legs. This will really stretch out your hamstrings and calves and help promote better lower body flexibility.
It also helps to improve your core strength, and with that also comes the side benefit of better balance.
No Equipment Required
The Inchworm exercise requires no equipment, making it great for at-home workouts.
It also helps to strengthen the arms, upper back, and shoulders, so you’ll feel more toned when you’ve finished doing it.
It’s great for improving breathing and lung capacity, which you need to do regularly if you’re an athlete or you want to do exercise for weight loss.
It gets your blood flowing, which is essential for a healthy body, and it also helps to improve circulation.
Inchworm Modification and Variations
One of the reasons people love the inchworm as part of a HIIT or calisthenics workout is the option for variations and modifications.
A popular modification is to add a push-up into the movement once you’re in the plank position. This will instantly up the tempo and create all the benefits a push-up offers (e.g. stronger chest, shoulders and arms). There are also so many variations of push-ups, such as close grip or superman push-ups, meaning the ability to vary up the entire movement is never ending.
You could also add a squat jump once you return to the standing up right position. This would focus the movement on more lower body strength.
Another way to modify the Inchworm is to add an Asian squat (or deep squat) before you crawl into the plank position. This brings with it the benefit of a deep squat, such as hip mobility and range of motion.
What muscles are worked in the Inchworm?
The inchworm primarily works the glutes, hamstrings, calves, shoulders and core.
Is the Inchworm a good stretch?
Yes, the inchworm is a great full body stretch, and is particularly effective for stretching out the hamstrings and calves.
Are inchworms cardio?
If you increase the intensity and duration of inchworms, they can offer a great cardio workout.