Since I started climbing at Brooklyn Boulders, I’ve realized how relative the term strong is. In the evenings, the floor space is covered with hundreds of people – each with their own unique physique. Some are just huge, muscles flexing through their shirts, while some are more slender, but still effortlessly tackle the walls with the ease of a natural.
What brings everybody together as a community is the shared sentiment to help one another get better at their own goal. Whether it be climbing a more advanced course on the 45 degree wall, or getting to the top for the first time on the simplest difficulty, everyone has got your back.
I’ve watched a lot of people train, and I’ve noticed some of their fantastic methods to build grip strength, flexibility, or endurance, but there is one method that I don’t see practiced there often that is fantastic for climbers – The Bear Crawl.
The Bear Crawl is an incredibly simple and primal movement that simulates climbing principles and teaches your body to use certain muscles you wouldn’t normally engage. This is really an important training movement because it’ll also get your heart rate up, allow a great deal of flexibility worked in before a climb.
It’s also versatile: it can become easier or more difficult by how low you get to the ground or how slowly you move. Eventually, your endurance will grow, your back and chest will be stronger and you’ll be able to bear crawl with ease.
How to do The Bear Crawl:
*Simply lay flat on the ground.
*Press into a pushup position, resting weight on your palms and toes.
*Alternate one arm forward with the opposite leg and crawl as low as you can, engaging your core and back.
*Crawl forwards a certain distance and then return in reverse to your starting point.
As with most bodyweight movements, this will seem easier than it really is! Take these movements slowly, really focusing on form and following through to the end. If you incorporate this into your regular training, you’ll become more adept at climbing, lifting and even carrying larger loads for daily life or exercise routines.
This is what it’s all about. It’s for the love of climbing, for the love of fitness and that feeling of pushing yourself to a place you weren’t comfortable with yesterday, only to master shortly later. As another member, Alex, said recently to me, when we were talking about bodyweight movements: “It’s important to understand how to use the muscles you already have, before you work to build even more.”
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