How to Bear Crawl: Techniques, Benefits, Variations

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The bear crawl works the whole body and is often included in CrossFit training and workouts, spartan training, and other high-intensity exercise programs. Intermediate and advanced exercisers can benefit from including this move in their total body workout.

Also known as: Crawl, mat bear crawl

Target: Core, back, arms and legs

Level: Intermediary

How to crawl bears

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

No equipment is needed for this exercise, but you do need a lot of space to move around. An outdoor space is ideal. Indoor spaces such as the gym or tennis court also work well.

Start crawling in a push-up position. Your hands are under your shoulders, your back is strong, and you’re focusing on your body. Feet should be hip distance apart and heels should not touch the floor.

  1. Move forward by simultaneously moving your right hand and left foot in a crawling motion. Your knees never touch the ground.
  2. Switch sides immediately after placing weight on right arm and left leg, moving left arm and right foot forward.
  3. Continue the crawling motion, moving forward to reach your desired number of steps or distance.

Keep your body relatively low while the bear crawls, as if you were crawling underneath a low hanging bar or net.

Benefits of Bear Crawl

When you do a bear crawl, you use almost every muscle in your body. This exercise works the shoulders (delta), chest and back, glutes, quads, hamstrings, and core. Train your bears regularly and you can build total body strength and endurance.

Bear crawls are often part of a comprehensive range of agility exercises. Studies have shown that agility exercises can help athletes meet the changing physical and physiological needs of different phases of training (such as pre-workout and pre-workout and training). after the season).

But you don’t have to be an athlete to benefit from this type of exercise. Non-athletes participating in agility training can improve body awareness, mobility skills, and burn more calories. It can even enhance your visual vigilance, listening skills, and working memory.

Additionally, lack of time is a common reason people avoid exercise or drop out of their exercise program. Compound exercises like the bull bear solve this problem by helping you get more benefits in less time.

Other Variations of Bear Crawl

You can modify this exercise to reduce or increase its challenge.

Bear Crawl Modified For Beginners

If you’re not ready for the full bear crawling experience, you can do a similar move without moving forward. This variation is a bit easier. Also, since the body is not in an extended push-up position, keeping your body weight is not difficult.

Start with your hands and knees with your back flat, your head in line with your spine, and core drawn. Hands under shoulders, feet hip-width apart, and toes under. While maintaining this position, alternately lift each knee about one to two inches off the floor.

Gather information Backward Bear

Once you’ve mastered the bear crawl, you can add the back crawl to your routine. Simply move forward about ten yards, then reverse the sequence and walk back ten yards, preferably without a break in between.

Sideways Bear Crawl

You can also make the bear crawl to the side. Start in the same position as for slithering forward, but move to the side instead of moving forward. Make sure you do this move to both the left and right sides so that you are even on each side of your body.

Weight Bear crawls

You can make the bear more difficult by increasing the load. One way to do this is to wear a vest or weighted backpack while moving forward. Another option is to place a weight plate on your back and perform the crawl this way.

If you choose the second option, be careful that the disc doesn’t fall out as you move. This can be avoided by not rotating your torso as much when crawling, as well as using a larger diameter pan, so there is less slippage.

Bears collect information unevenly

Doing the crawl outside, on an uneven surface, is another way to challenge yourself with this mobility exercise. Wearing weightlifting gloves or similar can be beneficial to avoid hand rubs on rough terrain.

Bear crawls crates

Another way to add challenge is to move a barrel or exercise tube (such as a ViPR) underneath you as you move forward and backward. This is a weighty device, so when you first try this variant, start with a lighter device.

Place the barrel or tube underneath your torso and, after taking a step forward, grab the barrel and slide it forward. Then take one more step and move the crate again. Continue for the desired number of steps or distance.

Bear Crawl with Push-Up

Add push-ups to your bears’ crawling to make them even harder. Crawl forward about four steps, then hold your body in place and do one push-up. Take four more steps and complete another push-up. Continue this pattern for about ten yards, then reverse and go backwards.

Common mistake

Avoid these common mistakes to keep bull bears safe and effective.

Hips too high

It is natural for your hips to begin to lift as you move with the bear crawl. After a few steps forward, straining your arms and lifting your hips up will help ease the strain on your muscles and upper body.

The problem is that this also reduces the amount of work your body has to do — reducing the effectiveness of the exercise. So try to keep your back flat (with a neutral spine) as you push your body forward.

To avoid lifting your hips too much, imagine that you are weighing a bowl of water on your back as you move.

Sagging back

Bear crawls are a great basic exercise, but not if you let your back sag. Before starting to move, brace your body so that your hips and shoulders are in a straight line. The head should not sag forward or sag. Hold this position as you move.

Looking at yourself in the mirror is very helpful. You can also ask a friend or coach to follow you and provide feedback. If you’re having trouble maintaining a solid core while moving forward, just take a few steps forward and gradually add steps as you get stronger.

Too much side-to-side movement

Try to keep all the movement underneath your torso as you move. If you notice your legs jutting out to the side to crawl forward, you’re probably taking too big of a step.

Similarly, if you notice your hips wobbling as you move, you’re probably taking too big of a step. You may also lack core strength.

Safety and Precautions

Most people who are comfortable lying on the floor will be able to try some variation of the bull bear. But there are some people who should be cautious.

During the last months of pregnancy, you may have difficulty with this exercise because you have to carry more weight in the middle of your body. Additionally, hormones can change the stability of joints, especially those in your pelvis and lower back.

Work with your healthcare provider to get personalized advice on crawling if you want to do this exercise as you get through your pregnancy.

People who are obese may also have a harder time holding the bear pose or moving forward. And people with wrist and shoulder injuries should work with their physical therapist to determine if the exercise can be done safely and effectively.

Start by taking five to seven steps forward. Take a break and stand up for a moment if you need to, then turn around and crawl back to the starting position. As you get stronger and have more endurance, you can crawl further. If you feel any pain, stop this exercise.


Incorporate this and similar moves into one of these popular exercises:

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