The bear crawl might seem like child’s play, but the results it offers are v v serious.
This quadruped (all fours) exercise targets your shoulders, core, and back muscles simultaneously. And while it looks incredibly simple in this video, doing the bear crawl exercise correctly can be an extreme challenge for people who are unable to keep their core engaged by drawing in their belly button and bracing to active all the muscles in your back and abs.
But don’t worry, as a certified personal trainer, I’m going to teach you how to do the bear crawl the right way. If you’ve already mastered the move, I’ve got a few variations, and routine suggestions you can do to keep things exciting!
How To Do A Bear Crawl Exercise
- Get on all fours into a table top position with shoulders stacked over wrists and hip directly over knees. Engage your lats (the muscles on your back below your armpits that you’d feel if you gave yourself a hug) and maintain a neutral spine. Now, hover your knees slightly off the floor.
- Next, move your left hand and right knee slightly forward while keeping your hips parallel to the floor and maintaining a neutral spine. Then, do the same thing with your other hand and knee so that you meet back in quadruped position. Repeat three times.
- Reverse the movement to return to start. That’s one rep.
Form tips: I can’t say this one enough. Keep ? Your? Back? Flat?.
Set/reps for results: Three sets of 10 reps is perfect.
READ MORE: How To Do Lateral Squats Correctly
Benefits Of The Bear Crawl Exercise
The bear crawl is a great core exercise for strengthening your abs and back muscles and working on shoulder stability. In order to complete this move you have to maintain a neutral spine, which is key for functional movement patterns (think: walking, squatting, pushing, pulling, etc.) and preventing lower-back pain.
But my favourite benefit might be the one you get in your serratus anterior. This muscle is super important. It sits on the side of your chest, right by your armpit. It’s job? To help you to lift your ribs, which of course helps you to breath better!
Variations Of The Bear Crawl Exercise
- Lateral bear crawl: Tired of moving back and forth? Try moving side to side for a change. This variation will give you all the benefits of a regular crawl, while further challenging your coordination and mobility.
- Weighted bear crawl: When you’re ready to take your bear crawl to the next level, place a small weight plate (2-5 kilos) on your back for an added core and posture challenge.
How To Make The Bear Crawl Part Of Your Routine
- Do them as a warm-up: Bear crawls are beneficial for trunk activation pre-workout. But they’ll also increase your shoulder stability before performing a loaded shoulder exercise, especially one that requires you to hold weights in an overhead position!
- Add them to your core workout: This move will prep your back to resist excessive extension and flexion during loaded movements in your workouts!
- Make them a part of your strength-training circuit: Bear crawls are an effective, but not too taxing, way to get in some extra core work during a strength training circuit, without affecting your ability to perform heavier movements. Add them as an active recovery move in between sets of whatever upper- or lower-body exercise you’re doing.
This article was originally published on www.womenshealthmag.com
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