Better Core Training with Bear Crawl Variations

When it comes to core training, the choices and variations are endless. Deadbugs, farmer’s carry, planks, and crawls appear in my programming and my clients’ programs literally always. 

Not a single crunch in sight! 

The bear crawl in particular is one of my favorites to play with because it challenges and ignites muscles that the majority of people need, including:

  • Stabilization
  • Anti-rotation
  • Shoulder stability
  • Lumbo-pelvic control
  • Quads

Then of course, there are the 1001 variations you can use to play with, from using dumbbells to sleds to bands….there’s just a lot you can do in the quadruped position here even if you’re simply ‘holding’ the position.

Here are five variations you can play with:

Bear crawl dumbbell drag 

Okay, okay….you got me. There’s no crawling in this exercise but the fundamentals are the same. Shoulders over wrists, knees under hips and floating off the ground, while maintaining a neutral back. Dragging the dumbbell (you can use a kettlebell or plate, too) challenges the obliques while creating shoulder stability. This is an anti-rotation exercise and much harder than it looks!


Quadruped body saw with gliders

This variation is called “death”. 

Just kidding. It comes pretty close though. I love this as a progression from the stability ball bodysaw and is a nice alternative to other bodysaw exercises if you don’t have a swiss ball or a smooth surface where a towel can be used.


Bear crawl with shoulder taps

This exercise does two things I love: strengthens the quads, which pairs well with a barbell squat, and reinforces shoulder stability. For beginners, I prefer to use the plank version of this but for someone with the ability to hold the “bear” position, this is a great fit.


Traveling Bear Crawl (Frontal plane, Sagittal, Multi-directional)

A “true” bear crawl is dynamic in nature. You have to actually crawl somewhere. Once the isometric versions are exhausted, moving the body in multiple planes is extremely beneficial for athletes and general population. 

I prefer the bear crawl in the frontal plane (i.e. moving side to side) as seen in the video below to get someone moving in a different direction. This challenges coordination, stability, and a host of other benefits we’ve already covered.

Which direction you want to move is up to you. Side to side, around a clock, up and down (on a riser for example) are all possibilities. 


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