One of the Best Firefighter Exercises- Crawling

You read that heading correctly, crawling is one of the best exercises for firefighters.   I actually think it is in the top 10 (you can find out my other 9 “best” exercises by clicking the link to the “10 Best” image on the right).  Crawling is a great exercise to work core stability, strengthen the shoulder girdle plus it can help improve your coordination.  It also mimics movements that we do on the fire ground- -search and rescue and hose-line advancement.  And, crawling can actually be a pretty intense workout!

I recommend using a variety of directions and positions (forward, lateral, pulling objects) Focus on keeping hands under your shoulders to avoid shoulder impingement and be sure to tighten core muscles during the exercise.

How to Crawl

One of the most basic crawls is the bear-crawl, which involves keeping your hips high in the air with your arms and legs straight. If you haven’t crawled since you were a baby, the bear crawl is a good way to ease back in.


Another version, the spider-crawl is a lot harder than the bear-crawl. Instead of keeping your hips up, the spider-crawl has you bending your arms and legs while keeping your hips down. Imagine you are trying to get through a narrow tunnel without letting your belly touch the ground.

spicer crawl
I recommend incorporating crawling with other fire ground movements into interval overhauls. These are 5 and 10 minute intervals performed at the end of your workouts (click here to read more about interval overhauls).  You can crawl for distance (20- 50 feet) or for time, then repeat.

Please share and comment.  Let me know if you have questions.

Stay safe and crawl on,

Aaron Zamzow


Want to learn how to incorporate fireground movements into your workout program?  Click here to discover this Ultimate Workout Program.


  1. Jodi H on June 27, 2016 at 11:12 am

    I like doing this using a kettle bell or a 20lb weight. A couple of ways to do this are as above but when going forward, bring the kettle bell/weight up from behind you on the side; crawl, then pull weight. Go 10-20 crawls/pulls on one side then go back doing the other side. Another variation to this is to get in the spiderman crawl position and pull the weight in between your legs from one side to the other- never letting the knees touch the floor. You essentially stay in a hurdlers stretch combine with spiderman.

    • Zamzowfitness on June 27, 2016 at 8:06 pm

      Great input, you can change the position of the weight, kb, db, or other to simulate searching with a tool or dragging…

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