Compared to bear crawls and mule kicks, the duck walk might not sound like a terribly animal-inspired exercise — and strutting around the weight room might earn you some strange looks from your fellow gym-goers.
But in all its awkward glory, the duck walking exercise is one of the most challenging and beneficial bodyweight movements you can do.
“The duck walk gives you all the benefits of bodyweight squats and then increases them,” says Trevor Thimay, CSCS, Beachbody’s executive director of fitness and nutrition content. “The duck walk keeps you in that squatting position for the entire set, increasing the time between tension, a key growth stimulus.”
Duck Walk Exercise: Step-by-Step Instructions
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart and feet flat on the floor.
- Push your hips back, bend your knees, and lower your hips so that your thighs are parallel to the floor (or as low as you can comfortably go while keeping your feet flat on the floor).
- Keep your chest up and extend your arms in front of you for balance.
- Maintaining the squat position — or staying as low as you can comfortably go — step forward with the left leg, then the right leg. Remember to keep your weight in your heels while walking.
- Continue in this manner for a certain number of steps, then reverse the movement and step back to your original starting point.
What are the benefits of duck walking?
Once you know how to do duck walks, you can do them anywhere. You don’t need any equipment or a lot of space — a hallway, stretch of sidewalk, or corner of the playground all works.
And the duck walking exercise only takes a few steps to fire up your quads and glutes.
In addition to strengthening most of your lower-body muscles, the duck walk also engages core muscles.
A strong core is crucial for posture, balance and proper movement mechanics in athletic and everyday movement, whether you’re running or carrying groceries.
Incorporating core exercises like duck walks into your fitness routine can help prevent injuries.
What muscles work in duck walking?
Ducks aren’t known for having strong legs, but you will be if you learn to walk like one — the muscles targeted by the duck walk are the largest in your lower body.
Located on the front of your thigh, the quadriceps muscle is responsible for extending your knee.
The four separate muscles in your quads are the rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus intermedius, and vastus medialis.
Your glutes, aka your butt muscles, are good for more than just filling out a pair of jeans.
Together, the gluteus maximus, gluteus minimus, and gluteus medius work to extend the hips, draw your thighs outward, and rotate the legs and stabilize the pelvis.
Located at the back of your leg between your knee and heel, your calves are responsible for plantar flexion or pointing your toes — such as when you jump, skip, or run.
The soleus and gastrocnemius are the two main muscles that make up the calf.