The bear exercise will activate all the muscles from head to toe
If you are looking for an exercise that activates all the muscles at the same time, there is one answer: the bear crawl or the bear exercise. This exercise brings you low to the ground as you use all four limbs – just like a bear – providing an effective full body workout.
The exercise of the bear it’s bodyweight-based and uses all four limbs at once, explains Colby Landry, personal trainer at bustle.com. It’s a movement you can do at home or at the gym to get a full-body burn. Its beneficial properties, in fact, make it particularly popular as an exercise in physical therapies.
This is a moderate exercise that helps improve coordination while strengthening all the major muscle groups, such as the shoulders, chest, core and quads. It also challenges your stability and balance as you have to hold yourself up as you move.
What makes this exercise even better is that you don’t need any equipment to try it. It can be done at a slow pace, making it suitable for beginners, or you can increase the speed to strengthen your muscles, adding a cardio element, explains Michael Jones, certified personal trainer and movement expert.
How will you do the bear exercise?
- Start in a tabletop position with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. Point your toes down and let your knees swing slightly off the ground. Keeping your back flat, move one arm and the opposite leg forward. Then, repeat the same with the other arm and leg. Try to stay in each position for 30 seconds.
- Do 3 to 5 repetitions, with breaks whenever necessary. As the exercise becomes easier, add more duration to each movement.
- If you’re trying the bear exercise for the first time, Landry recommends starting with a static hold. Instead of crawling forward, simply lift your knees, hold them in this position for a few seconds, and then relax. You can even keep the knees on the floor to practice the table position, and gradually increase the difficulty. According to Jones, beginners can also do a few reps with shorter duration. “You’ll be able to complete more reps overall without getting overly tired.”
- If you want to make the movement more difficult, add more time or distance to the exercise as you crawl forward. Gradually, you can also increase your speed. “By picking up speed, you’ll get your heart rate up and practice your coordination and balance,” says Jones.
- Another option you have is to do the exercise by dragging your limbs to the sides or backwards.
What should you watch out for?
- One of the most common mistakes made by those trying the bear exercise is raising the hips. “You shouldn’t raise your hips too high. It kept the back as flat as it would be in a plank position,” Landry points out. This way you’ll effectively tighten your core so you don’t injure yourself.
- It is also important to maintain a straight line with your torso. “When you’re crawling, your hips and shoulders should stay aligned,” says Jones. “If you slouch or let your hips drop, it puts unnecessary pressure on the back and makes the exercise less effective.”
- To do the exercise, keep your knees as low as possible and your head up. “It’s important to avoid neck strain,” adds Jones. “You should also keep your core engaged throughout the movement to protect your lower back.”
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