Using the bear crawl for yourself or your clients: YES!

Utilizing the SAME OLD tired version? NO.

Using or turning a blind eye to CRAPPY FORM: HELL NO!

In the group fitness world, probably THE MOST BUTCHERED move that I see taking place is the BEAR CRAWL.  Sloppy form, dangerous speed, all at the expense of what? Just to get across the room first?  Stop it.

I’m just over it so I have to take a stand.

Quadruped crawling is a superior source of anti-rotational core stability, shoulder stability and primal functional strength building in the “safest” place on earth… the ground. This fundamental movement pattern is also a fierce cardio and calorie burner; so there’s that too!

BUT when done incorrectly,  you lose the stellar core benefits and instead end up with 3 main side effects: upper trap strain, shoulder pain, and wrist pain.

There is abetter way…


Check out these 5 variations, that strictly take place in the sagital plane.

They also take place in VEGAS, on the strip… the most obvious place for a workout! (I def made my way into the social media posts of about 15 tourists that day. And I’m OK with that.)

And total side note…. YOU SHOULD BE OK with training in public like this too.  Letting your environment INSPIRE your workout IS the foundation of the PURSUIT training methodology! I mean, hopefully you can see why once I saw Cesar’s Palace, I was instantly inspired to do one thing…bear crawls.

OK  here we go!

Start here: ACTIVATION


  • Balance on all fours with your hands directly under shoulders, and knees directly under hips (90 degree flexion at hip and knee.)
  • Suspend the knees about 2 inches above ground
  • Push hands away from the ground, so that the shoulder girdle is halfway between retraction and protraction.

In terms of difficulty, this is one of the most underestimated positions!

Hang here for 2 minutes to activate the core (and entire anterior chain) and to prep the body for the dynamic movement we will add on to this next.



The precision bear crawl is the baseline bear crawl that is a great place to start.  This movie requires an epic amount of core stability as you move from four points of contact with the ground, down to two.

  • Start in the “Loaded Position.”
  • Maintain a neutral spine throughout in order to maximize the transfer-ability of this dynamic core exercise.
  • Reciprocally step forward with the right hand and the left foot.
  • Shift your body weight forward and be sure to maintain your hands directly under your shoulders as much as possible.
  • Repeat with the opposite hand and foot as you slowly crawl across the ground with PRECISION.
  • AVOID tipping of body side to side as you crawl; this indicates a lack of stability somewhere in the chain.

“Keep your knees about 2 inches from the ground”
“Maintain a ‘table top’ position of your back at all times”
“Keep your god damn hands under your shoulders” (or something of that nature)



Since the knees are relatively extended and the hips are in a great degree of flexion, the core stability required for this variation is considerably less than the previous bear crawl variation. For those with tight hamstrings and calves, this will be an added benefit of improving dynamic flexibility.

  • Start all fours with your hands directly under your shoulders. Keep your hips high in the air with extended knees.
  • Reciprocally take steps forward with the right hand and left foot, then the left hand and right right.
  • Continue to transfer your body weight forward as the hand plants onto the ground. This is the key that will  keep your shoulders in as much of an anti-shrugged position as possible!



Whether it is perceived or actual, the degree of safety and stability your body will experience is diminished when you perform an exercise on a narrow “balance beam” (like this fountain ledge in front of Ceaser’s Palace)! Therefore, tweaking this variable is quick and easy way to increase the level of difficulty of the basic Precision Bear Crawl. (#1).

  • The more narrow the ledge, the more slow and controlled your movement must be
  • Remember, SPEED is a PROGRESSION; you must earn the right to go fast!
  • Perform the moving pattern in the same manner that you performed the precision bear crawl (#1)

“Before stepping to the next hand/foot, shift your body forward and anti-shrug your shoulders”
“Don’t fall in the water”



So far the bear crawls mentioned require you to travel forward in the frontal plane. This variation tweaks that concept a bit by keeping you relatively in place. Additionally, we stack a “kick out” on top of the basic step out and back format.

  • Begin in the “loaded position” on all fours, with neutral spine and pelvic positions, knees suspended above the ground.
  • Step out with right hand and left foot simultaneously
  • Shift the body weight forward onto the hand while you press the hand into the ground.
  • Reverse that movement to return back to the start “loaded position”
  • Shift body weight into the shoulder girdle and core as you jump back with both feet.
  • Jump back in and absorb the jump with core and shoulders.

“Imagine imprinting your hand in sand as you step it forward”
“Land softly/quietly as you jump in and out”



Caution: it’s a good idea to have dental insurance before attempting the variation. That, or just make sure that you have a really strong grasp of each of the above bear crawl variations before considering the “Stairway to Hell Crawl.”

  • Begin with both feet on the same step, knees bent, and both hands on a few steps below that.
  • As with all of the other bear crawl variations, reciprocally descend down the steps with control
  • Attempt to move both R hand and L foot at the same time
  • MINIMIZE as much lateral shifting of the body as you descend

“Keep your EYES (not your HEAD) one step ahead ”
“Don’t move to the next step until you are fully stable on the previous”
Aggressively sing Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’

Want an extremely advanced progression of this move?  Reverse bear crawl yourself right back UP the steps!



Never introduce a bear crawl variation to your class or to a client if you have not mastered it yourself first.

NOT FIXING a client’s compensatory patterns (typically – excessive shrugging at the shoulders and excessive lateral sway of the body) is just lazy coaching.  You are cutting their results in half, and setting them up for injury. We can do better than that.

If you want empowered, strong, and injury free clients that get RESULTS, coach them in such a way that TEACHES them how to spot and fix THEIR OWN faulty patterns!  THIS is what coaching for excellence looks like.


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