October 5, 2021

Bear Crawl: What It Is and How to Do It

Bear crawl is a body exercise that shakes your core, shoulders, quads and core. This move, which is exactly what the name implies, requires you crawl like a bear and keep your body close to ground.

This cardio and strength exercise is packed with a lot of power. It will fire up multiple muscles simultaneously as you try to maintain a certain position in your body.

You can incorporate bear crawls in your workout in many different ways, including as part of a dynamic warm up or as part of a round of HIIT.

Continue reading to learn more from the experts.


  • Mariela Arteaga, a certified instructor in fitness and XPRO for AKTGO is Mariela.
  • Sarah Louise Rector, a nationally recognized trainer and fitness expert who is CAFS-certified, is based in Los Angeles.
  • Traci Copeland, a New York-based fitness trainer, is Traci. She is a specialist in running, yoga, dance, and fitness.

How Do Bear Crawl Benefit You?

Because the whole body works together to make the movement, bear crawls can be very effective. Bear crawling is also a great exercise.

  • Major muscle groups to work: Sarah Louise Rector is a fitness expert and CAFS-certified trainer.
  • Your core is your challenge: To execute correctly, your body must be in proper form. This requires that your core activates throughout. A bear crawl is similar to crawling on the ground with a baby. Mariela Arteaga, a certified fitness instructor, says that you should keep your knees off of the ground and support your weight with your hands and feet. This requires core work.
  • You can improve your mobility by practicing.

How Do You Bear Crawl?

Bear crawling looks exactly the same as it sounds. You start on your fours.

Here is a step by step guide from our trainers.

  • Place your hands on the floor, lowering your shoulders so that your wrists are above your shoulders. Place your toes underneath your feet so they are directly on your heels.
  • Your knees should be lifted off the ground, so they hover a little. Keep your knees bent at 90 degrees below your hips.
  • Keep your back flat with your knees elevated and your knees bent. Now, you can start to crawl forward by moving your opposite hand and foot simultaneously. This is where you will feel your core really activate.

You can also do the same move backwards. This is called a “reverse bear crawl”.

Modifications of Bear Crawl

You can modify the exercise to make it easier. Arteaga explains, “Set yourself up as a bear crawl but with your knees on ground. Then move the opposite hand forward and back.”

“Or, you can hover your knees above the ground and, without actually traveling forward, move the opposite arm and the opposite knee forward and back, alternately between them.”

These modifications will help you strengthen your core, shoulders, and legs as you progress to the bear crawl.

You can also reduce intensity by placing your knees on the ground each few steps. Rector suggests that you still walk on your fours but can put your knees on the ground for every rep. This modification requires that you have something soft or cushioned for your knee to rest upon.

Traci Copeland, a fitness instructor, suggests adding resistance bands to your feet or doing a bear crawl pull-through, in which you pull a bag of sand during your bear crawl. To feel the burn, you can slow down your speed.

For an additional challenge, you can do a reverse bear crawl immediately after.

Safety Considerations

Bear crawls require flexibility and core strength. Before you can get in position, here are some safety considerations.

First, form. Arteaga says that it is important to form. You could endanger your lower back and joints, which can lead to strain or pain.

Rector advises that you be careful with your shoulders and knees. Rector says that these are our most sensitive muscles and should be kept safe.

Bear crawls should be avoided by anyone with wrist pain or injury. They place pressure directly on the joints. Be aware of your mobility issues or lower-back pain, and if you have difficulty getting down or standing up. Respect your limitations and not push yourself too far are two important things.

The Final Takeaway

The bear crawl is a great, low-tech exercise that targets the whole body. The bear crawl is a combination of strength and cardio, and it also strengthens the core by stabilizing the body during the exercise. You can modify this movement by tapping one knee down after every few crawls to lower the intensity or adding a reverse crawl to increase the challenge. Avoid this exercise if you have wrist, knee or shoulder problems. To ensure that your form is perfect, you can start with smaller crawls to get to the full crawl.