When you think of a core workout, your mind might go to ab-blasting high-intensity sequences that fire your muscles and then leave you quivering. But the benefits of a good core workout go beyond strengthening your abs. Core exercises also train key muscle groups in your pelvis, lower back, and even hips to work together harmoniously to promote better overall stability and balance, according to the Mayo Clinic. That stabilization can help prevent injury and increase your ability to stay active for longer. Sold!
But getting there doesn’t need to involve intimidating exercises like burpees or mountain climbers. While the variations of a killer core sequence are seemingly limitless (check out Well+Good’s YouTube channel for primo workouts to try at home), trainer and fitness coach Roxie Jones, the creator of BodyROX, says her go-to move right now to round out her core workouts is the reverse bear crawl. “I’ve been loving backwards bear crawls as a workout finisher,” she says.
The reverse bear crawl isn’t just an ab-focused move. It’s a true full-body challenge, ensuring that even though you are homing in on your abs, you also get a well-rounded workout without adding much time to your workout—as little as 15 seconds can offer legit benefits. “You pretty much use every muscle in your body for a bear crawl and it’s especially challenging when done in reverse because you need to push through the ground while maintaining core engagement and stability,” Jones says.
Although she typically turns to it as her grand finale, Jones says it can be also be used to fire up your muscles at the beginning of a workout since it engages everything: “It hits shoulders, chest, back, quads, hamstrings and core.”
How do you do it? Start on all fours with your wrists aligned under your shoulders and your knees lined up under your hips. “It’s done in a bear crawl position, moving opposite limbs to travel backwards without letting the knees touch the floor,” Jones says. Here’s how to get set up into the correct starting position:
Correct form is key on this move to properly engage your back and core muscles—focus on keeping a flat, tabletop back without letting it arch. Then, crawl backwards with each hand and the opposite leg. Work to keep your knees just an inch or two off the ground. It might sound simple, but the reverse bear crawl is a super-charged core strengthening exercise because of the extra attention you have to give your muscles to stay in proper alignment.
Give it a try and get ready to feel it. Jones does this move for a set amount of time. Start with 15 seconds and work your way up to 40, or even 60. Or, do this move in between each block of your workout, increasing by 5 or 10 seconds with each round.
“This makes you practice coordination, stability, core control, and the ability to push since you’re pushing through the ground to travel backwards,” says Jones.
Want to get started? Try this core workout that uses the bear crawl before your next run:
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