Recently I wrote about my plan to overhaul my exercise regimen in order to contribute to more usable, functional strength that mirrors the kinds of tasks we tend to do on a regular basis.
That meant focusing heavily on farmers walks and carries.
And I must tell you I am loving it.
But it still needs some changing.
While I love the way I feel getting stronger functionally, in terms of the ability and confidence in the simple task of picking up and moving heavy items, as we often need to do, there was something missing.
Picking up and carrying heavy things is a very important part of being useful and having the functional strength to help and contribute to society and your own life.
Farmers walks are great, but what about tasks we do that are lower to the ground?
What about things like gardening, landscaping work, plumbing, working in a crawl space, and others?
If we are to be totally useful and functional in life, we need to be able to be strong and have endurance in a number of different positions, performing a variety of tasks and movements. Carrying and moving heavy weights is just one of them.
But it doesn’t do you as much good when you need to get down and dirty, rip some weeds out of the ground, get under your kitchen sink to clear a clog, replace a toilet in the bathroom, or fix your sump pump in a crawl space.
For that, you have to be strong and comfortable on all fours, supporting your body on your hands and feet, and have the mobility to move around comfortably and with strength in that position.
Enter bear crawls.
Other people may call this exercise by other names and there are many variations, but in essence the idea of it is very simple.
Get down on the ground and crawl on all fours.
Why is this a great idea?
Besides giving you the functional strength and confidence to thrive performing work in that position, it is an outstanding total body exercise.
You are working your entire body, head to toe. Not including your head if you’re doing it right.
You use just about every part of your lower body, importantly including your oft-ignored toes, to keep your knees off the ground and push your body forward (or pull it backward if you crawl backward).
You use your arms, chest, triceps, and shoulders to do the same for your upper body.
And you activate and engage your entire core to keep your body stable throughout the movement and keep your butt from rising too high in the air.
(You’ll understand what that means if you try this exercise.)
On top of it all, it is a big cardiovascular challenge. If you are looking for an exercise that will get your heart rate up quickly, this is one of them.
Which is also why you should be careful and cautious before starting it. Talking to your doctor before starting an exercise program is always a must.
A movement that is functional, efficient, and useful
There are few exercises with this kind of all-over appeal. And perhaps none that translate as well into being functional in work tasks low to the ground that are asked of a human being as crawling exercises, therefore contributing to your being a more useful person. Both to yourself and others.
For excellent tutorials on different variations of crawling exercises, known as quadrupedal movements, you need to check out The Bioneer on YouTube.
He has one of the best fitness channels out there and his work explaining the crawling movements is among the best.
Here is an excellent video he did on crawling movements:
Anyway, so far I can say I’ve never felt better from a whole-body standpoint since I incorporated heavy carries and quadrupedal movements like the bear crawl.
I feel stronger and more confident just moving around in daily activities as well as in performing tasks. It’s an amazing feeling to get up and go to the kitchen to get a glass of water and suddenly you realize, “hey, I feel really good just walking over here.”
In fact, even lugging cases of water around is actually a little bit appealing to me now. Just as I hypothesized in my previous article on farmers walks, my mindset has become more adapted to a more fervent work ethic. I enjoy manual labor more now than I ever did before.
What do you like to do for fitness to achieve your physical and life goals? Please let me know in the comments below.
And, as always, consult with your licensed health care practitioner before starting any exercise program. Safety must always be paramount. You aren’t useful to anyone, most importantly yourself, if you don’t stay in the game.
Here’s to your being great!
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If you enjoyed this article, you might love this totally unrelated gratitude journal!
I wrote the introduction to help guide you and provide you with motivation to start your mindset shift and contribute to your growth, then watch your growth compound over time and your life change for the better.
Having something – anything – to serve as a motivational reminder to be grateful can help a great deal. Whether it’s a gratitude journal or something else.
I like a gratitude journal.
Stay consistent and watch your life change positively.
You have the power to decide what you believe and who you will be.
So believe in the best and believe in you!