6 Different Bear Walk Variations

February 18, 2018 by VAHVA Fitness

6 different bear walk variations to strengthen the body. Excellent for full body mobility.

In this video and article we have demonstrated 6 ways you can use the basic bear walk to develop the body.

These are focused more on mobility and strength, but when utilized right the bear walk can also be used for explosive training and conditioning. For example many NFL players and MMA fighters use the bear walk for explosive conditioning.

For beginners and everyone else, the mobility and strength should always be prioritized before working on heavy lifts or explosive movements. This is the way you will progress the furthest and avoid any injuries the hard training may produce.

In addition to the bear walk, we just recently covered numerous monkey walk variations to strengthen the body. The monkey walk is excellent for shoulder & core strength, speed and fat loss.

The bear walk is similar to the monkey walk in some regards but the obvious difference is that the bear walk is a high movement where the hips are always high. You are also not hopping around like in the monkey movement. 

The bear walk can be utilized for many different purposes. You can obviously use it to move, but the movement can also be a transitional element between other movements (for example between the crab stance and bear stance). 

Monkey walk and bear walk (and over 50 other movements) are also covered in Movement 20XX online course, our best program with tutorial videos and a 6-month routine to build an impressive well-coordinated physique.

Benefits of the bear walk:

  • Anterior chain mobility: core, hip flexors and quads
  • Posterior chain flexibility: hamstrings and lower back
  • Wrist mobility
  • Shoulder girdle mobility (scapula)
  • Full body coordination and body control

The best results are obtained when the bear walk is utilized for full body strengthening and mobility. To do this, the bear walk needs to be slow and controlled and you have to be mindful during the movement.

The more you can feel your muscles working, the better results you can expect. The highest level of training is a feeling process where you feel the muscles contract.

With these variations we have focused on different parts of the body. To maximize the results, feel the targeted body parts work.

How can you incorporate movement training to your schedule? We have a blog post about this subject here. 

How much should you do these movements? These movements can act as a warm up but also as serious strengthening work. Do the movements until you feel like the muscles get tired.

1: Sideways Bear Walk

sideways lateral bear walk movement exercise

In the sideways bear walk you are moving laterally by taking cross-steps with your arms. With legs you can either take cross-steps or just move them laterally from side to side.

In the upper body you will develop mainly your shoulders but in the lower body you will be working the lateral glutes and adductors (inner thighs).

Your core is also bending a lot due to the lateral movement and this will train the obliques. Keep the core pulled in.

Similar to all bear walk variations, you will also stretch the posterior chain (lower back and hamstrings) very nicely.

2-3: Forward and Backward Bear Walks

forward and backwards bear walk movement

The forward and backward bear walks are the absolute basics of the bear walk. In order to work the mobility of the posterior chain, take the narrowest stance you can take. 

The easiest way to do the bear walk is to move forward because you can push with your legs. Moving backwards is a lot harder movement because you need to push more with your arms and shoulders. 

As a result, the backward bear walk can be easily utilized to develop the scapula (shoulder elevation) mobility and build shoulder strength. 

Both these bear movements can be either stiff or loose. Keeping your arms and legs stiff will work the stability and rigidness of the body, whereas loose limbs are good for mobility. 

4: Ipsilateral Bear Walk

ipsilateral bear walk

In the ipsilateral bear walk you are moving the same side arm and leg at the same time by freezing the body and taking cartoonish bear steps.

The purpose is to develop stability in the arms and legs by keeping them stiff and rigid. You will also develop hip and core stability, because you need to keep the hips flexed and stable.

5: Sumo Bear Walk

sumo bear walk exercise

In the sumo bear walk you take a wide stance and point your feet outwards. This variation focuses on posterior chain flexibility and mobility of your inner thighs and lateral glutes. 

The sumo bear walk is kind of a dynamic and moving pancake stretch. If you don't like stretching, this mobility focused bear walk variation can be a good option. 

6: Scapula Bear Walk

The scapula bear walk is probably the hardest variation of the six to master. Here you are pushing yourself backwards or forward by elevating the scapula (pushing the shoulder forward) of one arm at the time.

This means that you will work the scapula elevation (learn more about scapula mobility here) which is crucial for shoulder health, handstands and many athletic movements. 

Try all of these movements in your workout or just focus on one at the time. The best movements for beginners are the crab, monkey and bear walks.

Train hard, stay safe.

samuli jyrkinen

About the author 

Samuli Jyrkinen

Samuli is the ninja behind the scenes (photography, videography, websites, program platforms and more). He has been training religiously for over a decade and has a firm grasp of physical and mental fitness. You will find our story here.

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