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The Bear Plank Position

To strengthen your core muscles, reduce back pain, and improve overall body function and strength, the simple plank pose is one of the most recommended exercises, and it has many different versions. One of the best is the Bear Plank Pose. This exercise uses your body weight to strengthen and stabilize your spine, and it doesn't require any professional equipment, so you can do it comfortably at home, preferably on a yoga mat for comfort. While it's a relatively safe exercise, it's always advisable to consult with a doctor before starting a new workout routine. Here, we'll explain the benefits of the Bear Plank and present 5 different versions for those looking to either reduce or increase the intensity of the exercise.

Which Muscles Does the Bear Plank Work on?

When you hear "core muscles," you probably think of abdominal muscles, but it actually includes a collection of muscles that also involves the deeper abdominal muscles and those running along the sides of the spine. These muscles help keep your spine straight without twisting or bending sideways when performing daily activities and exercises. Specifically, the Bear Plank Pose significantly strengthens the external and internal oblique muscles – the muscles on the sides of the upper body connecting the pelvis to the ribs.
The exercise also engages the transverse abdominal muscle that spans across the abdomen, located beneath the oblique and rectus abdominal muscles. Studies show that strengthening these muscles reduces lower back pain symptoms and the risks of injuries, as well as enhancing athletic performance.
woman doing bear plank

5 Versions of the Bear Plank

This exercise has easier and more challenging versions. You can choose the version that suits your abilities and fitness level and adjust it as you strengthen your core muscles.

1. Regular Bear Plank

The basic Bear Plank pose is suitable for most people who are used to working on their core muscles. However, it's important to note that you should only perform it if you do not suffer from back injuries. It's also recommended to learn this version as it serves as the foundation for all others.
bear plank regular

1. Start with your hands, knees, and feet on the floor, with your toes pressing against the ground.

2. Engage your chest and shoulder muscles so they press against the floor. Your weight should be evenly distributed between your fingers, palms, and the base of your hands.

3. Squeeze your glutes and tuck your pelvis inwards.

4. Take a deep breath and tighten your abdominal muscles as if bracing for a punch. Your lower ribs should move slightly towards your pelvis

5. Lift your knees about an inch off the floor so they hover slightly above it. Keep your chin and head in a natural position, with your eyes looking directly at the floor beneath your head.

6. Breathe regularly, maintaining your mid and lower back in a straight and slightly arched position. Avoid arching your back or letting your abdomen drop towards the floor.

7. Hold this position for at least 20 seconds. As you practice more, you can hold it for longer, aiming for 3 sets of 60 seconds.

Perform the exercise 2-3 times a week as part of your workout routine.

2. Bear Plank with Abdominal Hold (Easier)

If you find it challenging to perform the regular Bear Plank, try this exercise, which helps strengthen the weak muscles until you can perform the regular Bear Plank. Follow the same steps as described in the previous section, with the main difference being that the knees remain on the floor while you engage the abdominal and glute muscles. The focus is on slightly arching the mid and lower back without arching it too much.
bear plank while holding stomach

3. Bear Plank with Leg Lift (Harder

When you feel comfortable performing the Bear Plank in 3 sets of 60 seconds, you are ready for the leg lift exercise. The difference here, as the name suggests, is that you will lift one leg off the ground while in the same position, and you need to do this with both legs – one at a time.
bear plank with leg lift

1. Follow steps 1-5 of the Bear Plank.

2. With your knees off the ground, lift one leg off the floor for one second.

3. Return the leg to the floor and repeat the exercise with the other leg.

4. Perform 3 sets of 10-20 leg lifts (5-10 per leg).

4. Bear Plank with Inward Kick (Harder

This is an advanced version of the Bear Plank with Leg Lift, requiring much more effort from your core muscles to maintain balance. Only perform this after you are comfortable with the Bear Plank with Leg Lift.
bear plank with inner kick

1. Follow steps 1-5 of the Bear Plank.

2. With your knees off the ground, lift one leg and lower the pelvis on the same side towards the floor, while rotating the body and bringing the leg for a kick towards the opposite side through the gap between the other leg and the floor

3. Return the leg to its place in a controlled motion and repeat the exercise with the other leg

4. Perform 3 sets of 10-20 kicks (5-10 per leg).

5. Bear Plank with Walking (Harder

In this exercise, you will walk forward and backward in the Bear Plank position, forcing you to lift your legs and move your entire body. Therefore, you must first master the Bear Plank with Leg Lift. Here, your hands will also work, and it is crucial to ensure they rest on the floor properly and evenly across the entire palm while performing the steps.
bear plank with walking

1. Follow steps 1-5 of the Bear Plank.

2. With your knees off the ground, lift one leg and bring the knee about 12 inches forward before lowering it back.

3. Repeat with the other leg and continue walking forward and backward, depending on the size of the space you are working out in.

4. Perform 3 sets of 10-20 steps (5-10 per leg).

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