Where bear crawls go wrong

At first glance the bear crawl looks like an easy move to master. You simply get down on all fours and move forward and back, or side-to-side. If infants can do it, surely you can too? But it’s not that simple… if you want to unleash all the benefits of this functional favorite, mastering perfect technique is key.

Bear crawls are a great all-in-one exercise that work all the major muscle groups in unison, and provide a real core challenge. Adding bear crawls to your training is a sure-fire way to build strength and power, boost your metabolism and fire up your cardio fitness.

Another great thing about bear crawls is that they provide a great mental challenge, as your brain focuses on maintaining balance while keeping all your limbs moving at once.

How to master the bear crawl

Crawling is a foundational movement pattern that most of us master as infants. However, as soon as we learn to stand, most of us find the total body coordination that goes hand-in-hand with crawling goes out the window.

Too often people have their hips high in the air and twisting to each side as their legs move.

Watch and learn how to master bear crawl technique.

Technique tips:

  • Keep your abs braced
  • Ensure your hips are down
  • Keep your knees close to the floor
  • Aim for a long, straight back

Bryce Hastings, Les Mills Head of Research, recommends you start with slow movements so that you can stay in control. “The aim isn’t to race across the floor, your focus should be on keeping your body stabilized, your back neutral and your pelvis square to the floor. Slowing down and focusing on control is what makes the move most effective.”

You could think of the bear crawl as a traveling plank or hover – this means a stationary start, focusing on locking on your abdominals, then adding forward, backward or side-to-side movement to the mix. There’s no denying it’s tough. Every time your limbs move your spine will naturally want to drift from side to side, so you’re really challenging your core to maintain a stable trunk position.

Bear crawls with added intensity

When it comes to aerobic conditioning, bear crawl intervals make a great alternative to burpees, mountain climbers and running. The fact that bear crawls engage all your major muscle groups means they drive great muscular endurance and send your heart rate sky high. Hastings advises that you do four bear crawls forward and four backwards – aim for 8x sets of 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds rest.

The bear crawl with push-up is another great way to add intensity. This dynamic combo increases the demand on the upper body and requires even more core strength as you transition from bear crawl to push-up.

Keen to practice your bear crawls? This staple HIIT move often features in LES MILLS GRIT workouts.


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