What Is Sprawl During a Workout?
Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Mike Baird
The sprawl is an exercise movement inspired by the martial arts and used as a defensive technique in grappling training. Sprawl has also become an exercise for the average fitness enthusiast who wants to improve strength, speed and stamina.
Sprawl comes from Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and other forms of grappling-style wrestling. During a wrestling match it is used as a defensive movement to protect against your opponent diving at your legs and attempting to tackle or pick you up.
To perform the sprawl, begin in an athletic stance. Feet should be shoulder width apart, with hips and knees both slightly bent. The weight should be on the balls of the feet. The movement is initiated by kicking the legs back and landing in a modified pushup position. You must land on your thighs, toes and the palms of your hands. As soon as you land, you must quickly thrust yourself back up to the starting position.
The sprawl develops quick feet by forcing you to quickly pick up your feet and kick them backwards. You must then thrust your feet forward to return to the starting stance. The entire movement should require one to two seconds to perform. Each repetition must be performed as explosively as possible to effectively develop speed.
Sprawling requires both upper and lower body strength. Your legs must be strong in order to thrust the feet forward and backward. The chest, arms and upper back must also be strong to hold yourself erect in the bottom position. Weakness in either the upper or lower body will limit the effectiveness of this movement.
Stamina or cardiovascular conditioning is developed with this movement. The sprawl is a whole-body movement that requires more energy than either an upper or lower body movement alone. It can be incorporated into a circuit or combination of movements or done alone for repetitions or time.
Rick Karasch is a performance coach. Coach Karasch has worked with clients from all walks of life, including Olympians, MLB, and NFL athletes. He has written articles for various online publications. He is certified though the NSCA, NASM, USAW and is pursuing a master's in human movement.