Inchworm Exercise

Nadia Santiago
Instructor and children practicing Inchworm

The inchworm exercise is a move that is typically used during a warmup before your workout. The primary goal of the inchworm is to dynamically stretch your hamstrings. It also engages the muscles of your chest and shoulders while stabilizing your abdominals. Practice it regularly to increase your flexibility and strengthen your core.

How to Do the Inchworm

  1. Begin standing tall, feet hip distance apart, and toes aimed forward.
  2. Hinge at the hips, with a flat back, and place your hands on the floor in front of you.
  3. Walk your hands forward into plank position.
  4. Either walk your feet forward toward your hands or walk your hands back to your feet to return to your forward bend. Make sure to keep your legs as straight as possible.
  5. Begin again.

Complete ten repetitions or continue for 60 seconds before moving on to the next exercise. A simple way to make the inchworm more challenging and comprehensive for your warmup is to add a pushup at the bottom.

Modifications

There a few reasons the inchworm can be challenging for both beginner and intermediate exercisers alike.

  • Tight hamstrings - If your hamstrings are tight, it may be difficult to keep your legs straight throughout the entire movement while also keeping your back flat. It's more important to protect your back, so bend your knees as much as you need to for your spine to stay long. You should still be able to feel the stretch in the back of your legs.
  • Large belly - If your stomach is on the heavier side, it may get in the way of you completing a full forward bend. A simple solution is to take a wider stance. Separate your feet wider than hip distance or as much as you need to in order to accommodate your tummy. You'll find that this makes it much easier to reach the floor.
    Inchworm Elbow Plank
  • Sensitive wrists - Some people experience pain or pressure when loading their wrists. A simple fix is to begin your inchworm in a forearm plank. You can still walk your feet in and out, but you may not be able to go as far. Just make sure your shoulders don't cross the line of your elbows while performing this exercise.
  • Weak upper body muscles - If you're interested in progressing your inchworm, but find it difficult to complete the pushup on your toes, lower your knees to the floor, complete your pushup, then lift your knees to continue the exercise.

Make Inchworms Work for You

The inchworm is not only a great dynamic stretch, but it is also the perfect exercise to warmup your entire body before you complete your workout routine. A regimen of inchworms added two to three times a week should help you see results in your flexibility and strength within a few weeks. Modify or progress the exercise to fit your needs and level of fitness.

Inchworm Exercise