In my fitness classes a standard bear crawls gives my students a challenging no-weight exercise. When I wanted to give them a new interesting element to their routine, I would give them a new variation, called a lateral bear crawl.
The normal version of the exercise uses the forward and backward motion while a lateral bear crawl is side-to-side. Both of these will exercise your hips, core, shoulders, glutes and triceps, but the lateral bear crawl requires better coordination. We do not normally move like this. Not as much as the sagittal plane at least, in most daily activities. So it’s not easy.
To start, get on all fours. Put your hands under your shoulders, and your elbows just slightly bent. Your knees are under your hips. Your back should remain in a neutral position (with no rounding) while activating and squeezing your glutes and your abs. Then bring your knees up so that your back and your shins are parallel to the floor. This is the starting point, which is called a bear plank. Practice keeping this spot for 30 seconds before going on to do a lateral bear crawl.
To go laterally, bring your left hand to your left and your right foot to your left, then put them in their new position. Next, change the movement by stretching your right hand and left foot to your left and putting them on the floor. Keep your movements steady to help you maintain a balance, especially as you are only getting started.
There are some issues here to be mindful about when you do the lateral bear crawl. First, this exercise is harder if you have foot problems. Also, while you are alternating your hand and foot moves, all off your weight moves back and forth to every hand, putting more pressure on your wrists. For some older men keeping a plank is simple when your bodyweight is even on both wrists, but a bear crawl can be too much. Lastly, some people do not have the strength in their quads to stay in this position for too long. They fatigue fast and their butts start to go toward the sky while they crawl. That means it is time to take a small break because you are losing correct form and increasing your risk of injury.
Author: Blake Ambrose