Most trainers will tell you that the bear crawl is a core exercise—and they’re right. Performed correctly, it’s essentially a traveling plank, which is one of the most effective core exercises of all, according to a study at the University of Waterloo. But the benefits don’t end there. By synchronizing the movements of opposite limbs (right arm and left leg, left arm and right leg), the bear crawl helps reinforce a movement pattern that most of us haven’t performed correctly since infancy.
The results can be game changing: Enhanced neuromuscular communication, greater balance, improved coordination, and increased mobility. That last benefit is key, as greater mobility (i.e., increasing strength through larger ranges of motion) is the secret to unlocking greater strength. Follow along with Jabari in the video below as he demonstrates perfect form.
Muscles targeted: Core
How to Do a Bear Crawl With Perfect Form
- Get down on all fours with your arms straight, hands below your shoulders, and your knees bent 90 degrees below your hips. (Only your hands and toes should touch the ground.)
- Keeping your back flat, crawl forward and backward moving opposite hands and feet in unison (right hand and left foot, left hand and right foot).
Make it easier: Do a baby crawl, moving on your hands and knees instead of on your hands and toes.
Make it harder: Crawl while gripping a dumbbell in each hand, perform a burpee every four “steps,” or do the Spiderman crawl, increasing the bend in your elbows (so your chest is closer to the ground), and bringing your knee to your elbow on the same side with each rep (i.e., as you move your left arm and right leg forward, bring your right knee to your right elbow, and vice versa).
Bonus Tip: Keep your back as “quiet” as possible. It should remain flat and motionless enough to carry a glass of water without spilling it. In so doing, you’ll train your core muscles to become even better at their primary job: Stabilizing your spine.