Nothing evokes a fitness class-wide groan quite like a trainer announcing that it’s burpee time. The move is a mainstay in many different modalities, because it’s an effective and equipment-free full-body move. But, real talk: it isn’t exactly fun to perform. So if you’re looking for an alternative to swap in on your next circuit, three-legged dog walks will give you the same sort of burn for a whole lot less impact on your body.
Otherwise known as “bear tree crawls” or “lame dog walks,” the move involves holding your body in a three-legged down dog (so, down dog position with one leg raised toward the sky) and walking forward and backward. It’s technically an advanced progression of a standard bear crawl, but can be swapped in for a set of burpees thanks to the fact that they THE MOVE? activate many of the same muscles.
The three-legged dog walk may look easy—particularly because it’s low impact—but it will light your muscles on fire. “Moving into the pike crawl position always fires up the core,” says GRIT founding trainer Anthony Crouchelli. “Using a single leg with a hop instead of crawling forward with both feet is a core burner, and requireS great core stability and balance.” You can up the cardio factor by doing these as quickly as you can, or slow things down to make the move lower impact.
Since there’s a lot of coordination involved in getting it right, it’s actually considered a more advanced version of your run-of-the-mill burpee (though personally, I hate them a whole lot less). You’ll want to keep a few things in mind before trying it on your own. “This movement requires a ton of shoulder strength, since you’re continuously moving through a plank walk-out pattern and adding a forward, single-leg hop,” says Crouchelli. Because of this, anyone with pain or injuries in their lumbar spine or lower back may want to proceed with caution, since the move is intense on that region of the body. And one more thing? “If you have weak wrists or a wrist injury, stay away,” he adds.
To master the move, start in a high plank position with your core and glutes engaged to keep your body in a straight line from the top of your head to the tips of your toes. For a little extra help with your starting form—which is critically important for reaping the move’s maximum muscle-building benefits—you can follow along with the video below:
Then, shift your hips slightly upwards (while continuing to engage your core) and stretch one leg up to the sky for a single-leg pike-to-plank. From here, walk your hands slightly forward until you’re back in high plank position, then hop your standing foot forward to return to the single-leg pike-to-plank. Try to complete 30 seconds on each side, and suddenly burpees may not seem so bad.
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