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March 09, 2023 6 min read

Crab walks are an incredibly effective bodyweight exercise that can help to strengthen and tone your entire body. They are a great way to build strength and improve balance, coordination, and flexibility.

This article will discuss the proper form for performing crab walks and which muscles are worked during the exercise. By following the instructions provided, you can get the most out of this powerful total body exercise.

Crab Walk – Muscles Targeted

Crab walks are a type of exercise that involves multiple joints and muscles working together, making it a compound exercise. It is a full-body exercise as it works both the upper body and lower body, but it is mainly focused on the muscles on the upper and lower back of the body. The primary muscle activation that will occur when you do crab walks is listed below.


The triceps are muscles in the back of your arm that help to move your elbow. Crab walks are a great exercise to help tone and build the triceps. They involve using your triceps to support the weight of your body.

Triceps – Image from Shutterstock


Your shoulder muscles are referred to as your deltoids, which are composed of three parts, posterior, medial, and anterior. Crab walks mainly focus on targeting the rear, or posterior, deltoids, located at the back of the shoulders.

Deltoids - Image from Shutterstock


The core muscles refer to the muscle groups of the midsection, including the erector spinae, rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, and obliques. These muscles work in unison to provide support and keep the lumbar spine stable.

Core – Image from Shutterstock

Latissimus dorsi

The lats are the biggest muscles of the back. They are situated on the sides of your body. The more pressure put on the arms to move back, the harder the lats must work to extend the shoulders during crab walks.

Latissimus Dorsi – Image from Shutterstock

Trapezius and Rhomboids

The trapezius, often referred to as the traps, are located in your upper back. They are large diamond-shaped muscles. This muscle is responsible for keeping the shoulders down and back. Working with the trapezius to achieve shoulder retraction are the rhomboids, which are located between the shoulder blades and underneath the traps.

Trapezius – Image from Shutterstock


The hamstrings are found on the back of your thigh, and they are responsible for flexing your knee and extending your hips. Doing a crab walk forward is a great way to target the hamstrings, as they are used for facilitating your movement in that direction.

Hamstring – Image from Shutterstock

Gluteus Maximus

The glutes, as they are commonly referred to, are the largest muscle in the body, located in your buttocks. They are responsible for extending the hip joint and play an important role in crab walks.

Gluteus Maximus – Image from Shutterstock


The quads, as they are often referred to, are located on the front of the thigh and are used to extend the knee and flex the hip. Engaging in backward crab walking will help to strengthen the quadriceps as these muscles are used to push your body in the backward motion.

Quads – Image from Shutterstock

How to do the Crab Walk with Proper Form

Making sure your form is correct when performing crab walks is key to reaping the full benefits while avoiding injury. This will ensure that the focus of the exercise is on the intended muscles, rather than putting stress on your joints.

Starting Position:

  • Sit on the ground, knees bent and your feet with the soles of your feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart.

  • Place your hands on the floor slightly behind your hips, fingers pointing away from your body.

  • Only your palms and the soles of your feet should touch the floor.

  • Use your glutes and core muscles to lift your hips so that your torso is parallel to the floor in a table-top position.

Here's how to do crab walks:

  1. Walk forward by stepping with your right foot and moving your left hand.

  2. Followed by stepping with your left foot and moving your right hand along.

  3. Take 15 steps and then reverse the movement going backward until you reach the starting position. That will complete 1 rep.

Proper Form for Effective Crab Walks

Doing the crab walk will put your body in an awkward position, and improper form could cause shoulder, wrist, elbow, or hip injuries.

  • Ensure your palms are firmly placed on the floor behind your buttocks, only slightly wider than shoulder width.

  • Your abdominal muscles must be tense to protect your back.

  • Keep your lumbar spine neutral throughout – don't tuck your pelvis or arch your back.

  • Ensure you keep your arms straight, as bent elbows can cause discomfort.

  • For better hip stability, you can lift your toes off the ground, walking on your heels.

  • Ensure your shoulder blades are drawn back and down, and your chin is tucked.

  • Distribute your weight evenly. Too much weight on your hands can cause wrist injuries.

  • Beginners should only go as fast as they can while keeping perfect form. Going too fast with your feet could lead to shoulder injuries.

How to make the crab work more challenging

  • You can increase the intensity of a crab walk by adding a resistance band around your upper legs.

  • Walking sideways is also quite a challenge for brave, experienced fitness enthusiasts.

  • Crab crossover toe touches are a more challenging version that involves pausing between steps to straighten and lift your right leg to touch your toes with your left hand, and using your right hand to touch your left foot's toes on the next step.

Crab Walk Benefits

Crab walks are a great way to strengthen and tone your body. Not only do they work your muscles, but they can also help improve your balance, coordination, and flexibility.

Here are some of the many benefits of performing crab walks:

  1. Improved Core Strength: Crab walks are an effective way to engage the core muscles, including the obliques, rectus abdominis, and transverse abdominis, helping to improve overall core strength.

  2. Full-body exercise: If you're pressed for time but still want to get a whole-body workout, try crab walks. Doing just a few of these exercises can help you build and tone many of the main muscles in your body.

  3. Improved Balance: The act of crab walking requires the body to stay in a neutral position while moving in multiple directions, helping to improve balance.

  4. Improved Coordination: The act of crab walking demands contralateral movement, in which you must coordinate the movement of opposite body parts to move the body forward. This helps to improve coordination and agility, perfect for athletes.

  5. Improved Posture: By engaging the core muscles, crab walks help to improve posture, giving better support for the spine and neck.

  6. Improved Flexibility: Crab walks require the body to move in multiple directions and this helps to increase flexibility. This can help with injury prevention and improve overall mobility.

  7. Boosts Heart Rate: This exercise is a highly effective cardio workout that boosts your metabolism and increases your heart rate, as you are constantly moving with your own body weight. Doing cardiovascular exercise to raise your heart rate is one of the best ways to maintain overall wellness and keep your body in shape and remain healthy over time.

  8. Burn Calories: With total-body workouts and movements, you need more oxygen to perform the exercise, which means more calories are torched.

  9. Good for warm-up: The crab walk is an excellent dynamic pre-workout exercise.

You can include crab walks in your bodyweight workout routine, along with lunges, squats, and other bodyweight exercises.

In a Nutshell

The crab walk is a great exercise to help you build strength and power in your upper and lower body. It is a whole-body exercise and is a great way to add variety to your workouts. When performed properly, it can be effective in helping you build strength, improve balance and coordination, and increase stability.

Crab walks can be done anywhere, anytime, and require no equipment.

If you want to get the most out of your crab walks, it's important to keep proper form. Start incorporating crab walks into your routine today and feel the benefits of a stronger and healthier body! Just be sure to use proper form and technique and you will be on your way to mastering this challenging exercise.

As with any new exercise, those with existing or previous injuries should consult a physician and personal trainer to discuss possible adjustments to the exercise to make sure it is safe to do.