Bear Crawl for Tight AbsPosted on Oct 9th 2009 9:00AM by Melissa Joulwan
Filed Under: Fitness
How would you like one exercise that works your whole body, requires no equipment, is easy to learn and is fun to do? Consider the bear crawl.
"The bear crawl engages many muscle groups including the shoulders, core and quads," said Crystal McReynolds, a coach at CrossFit Central.
To do the bear crawl, simply drop onto all fours with your hands directly under your shoulders, then rise up onto your feet. Now you're in the bear position! You can move forward and backward more quickly than in a standard crawl, and you'll work every major muscle group in the process.
Moving on "all fours" is so natural, kids do it all the time -- but as adults, we forget the fun and simplicity of crawling around. Locomotion on all fours has real physical benefits that moves it beyond child's play.
"Quadrupedal movement helps develop coordination and agility while also increasing cardiorespiratory endurance," said McReynolds. In the semi-squatted position of the bear crawl, your heart and lungs work harder, and the major muscle groups are engaged in keeping you balanced and moving.
The bear crawl can be added to just about any workout: Throw in a few bear crawls at the end of a walk or run or after your Spinning class. Too shy to crawl in public? There's probably a hallway in your house that would be an ideal bear path. Surprisingly, crawling uphill or upstairs is slightly easier than bear crawling on a flat surface, so you might want to start on an incline.
There are plenty of ways to make the bear crawl more challenging: Add push-ups every few steps or try crawling backward for a physical and mental test of coordination.
"If you want to make the bear crawls really challenging," said McReynolds, "put a dumbbell in each hand. That's a great way to develop muscular strength and increase lean muscle mass."
If you'd like more alternative ways to strengthen your abs -- and fight the boredom of crunches -- check out these tips for the hanging knee raise and hanging leg raise.