Iso Bear Crawl with Valslide

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Exercise to Improve Stabilization and Prepare for the Bear Crawl

This bear crawl is a great stability exercise that directly targets the shoulders, hips and core. However, since the traditional bear crawl can be very difficult for some beginners who lack the proper motor control patterning to efficiently create the movement, we use the Valslide to help teach proper movement pattern demands of the lower body before progressing to the traditional bear crawl.

How to do it:

  • Start from a quadruped position (on all fours), with your hands underneath your shoulders and palms flat on a turf or a carpeted surface.
  • Place a Valslide under the ball of one foot (e.g., the right foot).
  • Engage your core to create a stable trunk.
  • Create stability in your shoulders through good ground contact with your hands.
  • Push both feet into the ground so that your hips are up and both knees are off the ground.
  • Now, without changing the position through your, hips, trunk or shoulders, draw the right knee forward 5-6 inches as you stabilize the body.
  • Then, keeping the body stable, extend your right glutes until the right foot is approximately 5-6 inches past the starting position. This is one repetition.
  • Perform the required number of reps on one leg and then repeat on the opposite side.


Coaching Points:

  • Maintain core, hip, trunk and shoulder stability during the entire movement.
  • Avoid postural changes through the scapula and shoulders.
  • Perform all repetitions on one side and then switch to the opposite side.
  • Start with 2-3 sets of 8-10 reps per leg.
  • Once competent patterning is established with a stable trunk, progress to a traditional crawling motion.

The act of moving one limb away from the body challenges overall stability. When you progress into a traditional bear crawl, the occurrence of contralateral movements dramatically increases the stability demands of this exercise.


Jason Dowse, CSCS, is strength and conditioning coach for the Toronto Blue Jays International League affiliate, the Buffalo Bisons



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