It may appear to be an unusual exercise form, but the bear crawl workout is a valuable exercise that effectively strengthens your midsection and in stabilizing your spine. The Bear Crawl is a full-body workout that engages multiple muscles such as your quadriceps, shoulders, and core muscles, and it makes a great low-impact cardio movement. Alternatively, if you prefer a stationary full body workout, we have the 9 Best Total Gym Models & Alternatives just for you!
Consider bear crawling as a “moving plank”. You challenge your core muscles to resist the urge to flex and rotate, thus, developing your core stability, enhancing muscle endurance, boosting your athletic movements, and powering up your lifts.
While it looks incredibly simple, it could be challenging for beginners who are unable to brace their core and engage the abs and back muscles throughout the movement. Before we start crawling, let’s perfect your form.
This Ultimate Guide Will Cover:
- How To Perform The Bear Crawl Correctly
- Bear Crawl Workout Benefits
- Common Bear Crawl Mistakes To Avoid
- Bear Crawl Muscles Worked
- Bear Crawl vs. Mountain Climbers
- Our Trainer’s Suggested Reps, Sets, & Programs
- Bear Crawl Variations
- Bear Crawl Alternative Exercises
- FAQs About Bear The Crawl Workout
How To Perform The Bear Crawl Workout Correctly
What You’ll Need:
- No Equipment: This workout requires no equipment, but it does require a large open space to maneuver like an outside setting, which is perfect. Indoor areas, such as a gymnasium or a tennis court, are also adequate.
- Weighted Vest: Use the weighted vest to add more weight to your standard bear crawl exercise once you get accustomed to the correct form.
Step 1: Setup Your Starting Position
Set yourself in a position with enough space to cover the crawls. When you’re ready, begin by laying down on the ground with your feet and hands flat on the ground and your knees bent.
Step 2: Start With A Standard Plank
Reposition your feet so that your body is in a straight line from your head to your heels like a standard Plank, all while your shoulders are directly above your hands. Tuck your toes and raise your knees to about 12 inches off the ground.
Step 3: Get Low To The Floor
Fold your elbows and arms slowly until your face is near the floor. The position of your upper arms should be at a 45-degree angle to your sides. Another way to say it is that if you are looking down from above, your arms should form an arrow, not a T. Engage your lats and maintain a neutral spine.
Step 4: Walk Like A Bear
Crawl forward as you bring your left foot and right hand to the front simultaneously. Your arms and legs should have the same amount of space between them. Keep your spine neutral and your hips parallel to the floor. Stretch your arms again until you are back in the position you were in in the second step.
Step 5: Brace and Repeat
Shift your weight to one side and reach for your shoulder with the opposing hand. Return the hand to its original position and repeat on the other side.
5 Bear Crawl Workout Benefits
1. Enhances Your Mobility
The bodyweight mobility exercise enhances your core muscles since the action requires coordination and flexibility in the joints, which means you could become more athletic with repetition. Because bear crawls can improve overall core strength, they could also assist with balance and posture.
2. Puts Your Core to The Test
To do the bear crawl correctly, your body must maintain proper form, which mandates the activation of your core throughout.
The bear crawl is a type of mobility exercise that looks like a baby crawling on the ground. On the other hand, the workout keeps your knees off the ground and forces you to bear your weight on the balls of your feet and your hands. Incorporate bear crawls into your exercise program and it will immensely help you progress in your chiseled core game.
3. A Full Body Exercise
Bear crawls are excellent for targeting the core and shoulders. You will, however, receive tremendous exercise in your back, chest, quadriceps, buttocks, and hamstrings.
This bodyweight workout needs a lot of upper arm strength, especially on your shoulder, upper-leg strength, and, of course, core strength, so you’re working on every muscle in your body at the same time.
4. No Equipment Needed
Bear crawls could well be performed at the gym, at home, or on the road without the use of apparatus or equipment. You only need your body to perform the exercise and open space where you can comfortably perform the bear crawl.
5. Helps You Breathe Better
The bear crawl movement targets your serratus anterior, which is the muscle that sits right by your armpit. It assists in lifting your rib that helps you breathe better.
Common Bear Crawl Workout Mistakes to Avoid
Moving Too Much From Side to Side
As you perform the bear crawl, try to maintain all of your movement beneath your body. If you see your legs creeping out to the side to crawl ahead, the steps you are taking are too large to be efficient.
Similarly, if you feel your hips swinging as you go, you could be taking huge steps as you may also be lacking in core strength.
Taking Your Hips Too High
When you begin moving with the bear crawl workout, it is normal that your hips tend to raise. After a few crawling steps, your arms become fatigued, and elevating your hips high in the air relieves stress on your core and upper arm.
The issue is that this minimizes the amount of effort your body needs to do, which reduces the efficiency of the exercise. So, when you move your body to crawl forward, attempt to keep your back flat with a neutral spine.
The bear crawl is an excellent core workout, but only when you don’t allow your back to sink or sag. Brace your core so that your hips and shoulders are in a straight line before you begin moving. The head should not sag or drop forward and keep this posture while you go.
It is beneficial to observe oneself in the mirror. You may also have a buddy or trainer observe you and give you comments. If you find it difficult to keep a stable core while going forward, simply take a few steps forward and progressively add steps as you gain strength.
Bear Crawl Workout Muscles Worked
- Shoulders (Deltoids)
Bear Crawl exercise is one the best total body workouts that strengthen different muscle groups in your shoulders, arms, core, chest, legs, and back. The bear Crawl requires you to move with your own body weight and on all fours, so while its impact is relatively low, it can be a high-intensity workout that raises your heart rate while toning your muscles.
Bear Crawl Workout vs Mountain Climbers
Mountain climbers are excellent for developing cardiovascular endurance, core agility, and strength. Your shoulders, arms, and chest help support your upper body while your core stabilizes the remainder of your body as you do the exercise.
Your quadriceps receive a great workout as well. You’ll also gain health advantages and burn calories because it’s an aerobic activity.
On the other hand, the bear crawl engages your entire body, including your core, shoulders, quadriceps, hips, and back. Because you’re on all fours while performing bear crawls, your muscles have to work extra hard to maintain your spine, hips, and shoulders stable.
Our Trainer’s Suggested Reps, Sets, and Programs:
As A Whole-Body Warm-Up
The bear crawl exercise is an overall body and cardiovascular workout that works the glutes, abs, chest, shoulders, hip flexors, calves, chest, forearms, groin, middle back, triceps, hamstrings, middle back, oblique, and lats.
To begin, go down on all fours with your hands under your shoulders and your knees beneath your keeps. Move forward by taking short steps with your right arm and left leg, followed by your left hand and right leg, and then repeat until your heart rate goes up.
For Improved Endurance
The bear crawl exercise is simple, and it does not require any equipment besides your own body. But to increase your body’s endurance, you can perform 3 sets of 50-meter bear crawls and rest for 1 to 2 minutes between sets.
Over time, you’re going to increase the number of sets or the total distance to cover to improve your endurance. Those with wrist and shoulder injuries should seek a physical therapist to determine if the exercise can be performed safely.
For Strength Training
Bear crawls are an excellent approach to increasing strength and power. When done correctly, it can also aid in the improvement of other areas of performance. Crawl for 10 seconds and hold the bear plank for 10 seconds to help increase strength. Rest for about 30 seconds before repeating three to five times.
Bear Crawl Workout Variations
Weighted Bear Crawl
If doing the bear walk is already easy for you, it’s time to add some gear to the mix. Some people like wearing a weighted vest, but you can use a weighted plate that can be placed on the back if you’re an experienced bear crawler. Remember that this approach demands a lot of strength and balance, so proceed with caution.
The Leg And Arm Lift, Then Hold
Bear crawls are performed by moving opposing legs and arms in sync. You may improve your coordination by keeping the bear crawl position for the proper amount of time. Then, return to the ground, swap sides, and repeat.
Sideways Bear Crawl
The name of this variant is self-explanatory. Instead of stepping forward, you take a sideways step. However, there are two things that you have to keep in mind. First, keep the alternating leg and arm pairing in mind. Then, on both sides, repeat the crawl. If you only travel in one direction, you’ll only use half of your muscles.
Lower Bear Crawl
This version is fantastic for building upper arm strength, especially in your arms. You drop your body to the ground, bend your elbows, and do the bear walk, but lower than usual. It’s ideal for strengthening your arm muscles because it depends on your triceps rather than your skeletal structure for stability.
Bear Crawl Workout Alternatives
With crab walks, you work the opposing muscles since your body is in the opposite posture, like doing a backward bear crawl. That entails higher use of the hamstring, glute, upper back, and lower back muscles. At the same time, you’re working on balance, mobility, and coordination while using your shoulder muscles.
Spiderman Push-Ups are another alternative for the Bear crawl exercise that focuses on exercising the chest, triceps, and core muscles. At the same time, you get somewhat equivalent mobility, shoulder, balance, and coordination exercise. Another advantage of spiderman push-ups is that they take up less space than bear crawls.
Walking planks are relatively more effective than bear walks for training the chest, tricep, and core muscles. As you repeat the exercise, you also gain some shoulder mobility, shoulder muscle, quadricep muscle, balance, and coordination training.
Push-Up Shoulder Taps
Push-up shoulder taps, like bear crawls, can help you develop coordination, balance, shoulder mobility, and many of the same muscle groups. Remember that push-up shoulder taps will be more difficult on your chest and tricep muscles.
Another distinction is that this workout does not train hip flexibility, mobility, and hip flexor muscles to the same level as the bear crawl.