Everything you need to know about the inchworm exercise

If you’re looking for a workout that exercises your whole body and is not too strenuous, then the inchworm is one you should try.

The inchworm exercise can be done anywhere and does not require any equipment.

You will discover everything you need to know about the inchworm exercise in this article – the benefits, modifications, and variations. 

Let’s dive in!

What are inchworms?

The inchworm exercise is a high-intensity interval training involving some forward and backward movement with the hands and legs. 

It is an inch-to-inch kind of movement that allows you to move from a standing position to a plank position and back.

How to do inchworn exercise – Visual guide

Benefits of the inchworm exercise

  • It is a full-body exercise. 

You get to work your upper and lower body simultaneously, thus giving you enough energy and stamina for more intense training. 

  • It enhances the flexibility of the thigh’s back muscles and hamstring muscles. 
  • It improves posture.
  • It boosts blood circulation.
  • It improves breathing.

How to perform inchworms

Method 1

  1. Stand straight with your feet at a hip distance.
  2. Bend to place your hands on the floor in front of you.
  3. Gradually walk your hands forward until you are in a plank position with shoulders. Keep your feet in place.
  4. Next, walk your feet up towards your hands.
  5. Continue inching until your feet meet your hands.
  6. Repeat the movement, complete 10 – 15 sets.

Method 2

  1. Stand in a straight position
  2. Bend to place your hands on the floor in front of you.
  3. Slowly walk your hands forward to a plank position. 
  4. Hold the position for a few seconds.
  5. Slowly walk your hands back to your feet, raising your body back to an erect position.

Common inchworm mistakes to avoid

  • Swaying the hips while inching to plank. 

Your hips should be kept steady while performing the inchworm exercise. Also, ensure a tight core.

  • Moving too fast. 
  • Inchworm exercises are intended to be slow and steady; a phase should take at least 12 seconds to complete. 
  • Sagging the hips during the plank, thus stressing your lower back. 

To prevent this, tuck your belly button inward towards your spine.

  • Hands too far away in plank position. Doing this will put more stress on your shoulders, causing you to tire quickly. 

The correct posture is to keep your shoulder aligned with your wrist while in plank.

  • Straining your neck forward. 

Your neck should be positioned downwards while performing the inchworm exercise. Craning your neck forward will strain your spine.

  • Not putting pressure on your fingers and hands. To avoid pain in your wrist, ensure to push against the floor as you approach the plank position.

Some inchworm modifications to try

If you recently started working out, and the above process seems difficult to you, you could try the following:

  1. If your knees are injured and weak or you find it challenging to keep your legs straight during the movement, bend your knees while walking your hands.
  2. If you have a protruding belly, you might find it hard to make a full forward bend. 

For ease of movement, set your feet wider than your hip distance. You will also find that you can reach your hands more easily (using method 1)

3. Begin your inchworm in a forearm plank. This is particularly helpful if you experience pain in your wrists after prolonged physical activities. 

To do the forearm plank, walk to the end of the mat with your wrist, then allow your elbow to contact the floor or mat. While your fingers are clenched, rest your hands safely on the ground with your thumb facing upwards. Note that you will not be able to go as far as expected.

You can also use a dumbbell through the move to keep your wrist in a neutral position.

4. Alternate between walking your feet towards and away from your hands.

Inchworm exercise variations 

For more advanced inchworm, do the following:

  1. Add a push up while in a plank position 
  2. Incorporate a squat jump once you return to a standing position. 

To do this: 

  • stand with your feet apart
  • bend your knees to a squat position
  • jump straight up
  • descend to the ground with both your feet fully rested on the floor.

3. Add a plank jack.

To do this, raise your legs in and out while in the plank position, then walk your hands back to your feet.

4. Do an Asian squat (or deep squat) between each inchworm repetition.

To do an Asian squat:

  • Stand in an upright position
  • Gradually descend to a full squat. Your heels and toes should all be touching the floor.
  • Hold the position for a few minutes

5. Move your hands forward from your shoulders for an extra challenge in the plank position.

6. While in high plank, raise and lower your legs simultaneously before returning to the original position. This will stretch your lower abdominal area. (Read: scissors exercise guide).

Is inchworm exercise for everyone?

Anyone who is physically fit can perform the inchworm exercise. However, if you suffer from vertigo or associated problems, the inchworm may not suit you. Instead, go for exercises that do not require you to change your body position constantly.

Also, avoid inchworms if you have major wrist injuries.

Conclusion

Inchworm exercises are great for warm-up exercises as they stretch your whole body muscles. They can also be used as main workouts. They are easy to perform and are excellent for building core strength. 

It primarily works the hamstrings, calves, core, and shoulders.  

Precious is a vast researcher and has a knack for writing. She is also passionate about learning and personal development. She is a graduate of Human Anatomy and is given to helping people live a healthier and happier life.