You only need this one move and five minutes to develop your abs and strengthen muscles all over

This one underrated move will work your core and strengthen your entire body while improving coordination

Woman doing bear crawl
(Image credit: Getty Images)

There's a lot to be said for repetition in strength training; coming back to the same moves like the squat and deadlift can be a great way to check your progress and see if you've grown stronger. But that doesn't mean you need to be stuck in an endless cycle of the same exercises.

Doing something a bit different can challenge your body in new ways, helping you to build muscle. Plus, trying out new core strengthening exercises and bodyweight workouts keeps things fresh and interesting. So next time you unroll your mat for a home workout, why not give this full-body move from Sweat trainer Kelsey Wells a try?

The bear crawl is one of the most underrated exercises out there, Wells says, as it hits muscles across your legs, upper body and core. Watch her demonstrate how to perform the exercise with perfect form below, then give it a go for yourself.

Watch Kelsey Wells demonstrate the bear crawl exercise

This is a simple, one-move idea that can be tagged onto your usual gym session. If you want to turn this into a five-minute exercise snacking workout, perform 10 rounds of bear crawls in a Tabata format (20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest).  

The move is a compound exercise, which means it targets various muscles across your body. In your legs, it strengthens your glutes (or butt muscles), quads (on the front of your thighs) and hamstrings (on the back of your thighs).

Across your upper body, your chest, shoulders and back muscles are also working, while your core muscles (including your abs) are called into action to stabilize and support your spine. 

As the bear crawl uses a lot of muscles in one go, more energy is needed to complete this exercise than single-muscle moves like biceps curls, so you'll burn more calories.

However, if you want to do it effectively, you really have to focus on your form. It's tempting to drop to all fours and start crawling as quickly as you can, but you're actually better off slowing things down. 

Try and keep your spine neutral (or flat) at all times. And avoid pushing your hips into the sky, instead keeping your back and lower legs parallel to the ground. 

Then, match Wells' tempo in her video, taking a step every second or so. This will test your body's ability to hold good positions and control your actions, increasing your muscles' time under tension and working them harder than if you rushed through the movement.

Harry Bullmore
Fitness Writer

Harry Bullmore is a Fitness Writer for Fit&Well and its sister site Coach, covering accessible home workouts, strength training session, and yoga routines. He joined the team from Hearst, where he reviewed products for Men's Health, Women's Health, and Runner's World. He is passionate about the physical and mental benefits of exercise, and splits his time between weightlifting, CrossFit, and gymnastics, which he does to build strength, boost his wellbeing, and have fun.

Harry is a NCTJ-qualified journalist, and has written for Vice, Learning Disability Today, and The Argus, where he was a crime, politics, and sports reporter for several UK regional and national newspapers.