What is a bear plank chest press and how can you use this exercise to tone your chest? If you have been working out for a while, you know just how good planks can be in engaging and working out your core. But what happens if you’d like to work your core and chest at the same time? This is where the bear plank chest press comes in. This is a modified workout that combines the traditional high plank with the bear crawl exercise. If you’d like to know how to do this, keep reading to find out. You’ll learn as well which muscles it works and how it can help define your physique.
What Is A Bear Plank Chest Press?
Also known as the bear plank cable chest press, this is a modified workout that helps you build incredibly well defined pecs and shoulders. The best part about this exercise is that it is not just a chest and shoulder workout. According to Men’s Health, it also works your core (the abs), your glutes and even your quads (6).
What Equipment Do You Require For This Chest And Shoulder Workout?
For you to properly do the bear plank chest press, you will need a cable machine. For those who do not have access to this machine in their homes or at their gym of choice, a pullup bar and a pair of resistance bands can also be of use.
How To Do A Bear Plank Chest Press?
Please note that this description uses a cable machine as it is the easiest to use for this workout:
- Begin by getting into bear plank position (check below for a detailed description of the bear plank)
- While in this position, the cable machine handles should be in your hands and your core should be tight and engaged. To engage your core, pull your belly button to your spine and continue breathing. Your core should remain engaged throughout this workout.
- Ensure that your hips and shoulders are square to the ground and your back is flat. Do not arch or curve your spine.
- Once your body is properly situated, slowly shift one arm back towards your torso. Pause here for about 3 seconds.
- Slowly drop the arm back down to the starting position. Remember to keep the back straight and flat as well as hips and shoulders square to the ground.
- Switch to the other arm and repeat the same movement.
- This is one rep. Do about 3 sets with eight to 10 reps for maximum results.
The greatest benefit of the bear plank chest press is that it is a compound exercise that works not only the chest and shoulders but also the core, glutes, and quads.
Planks And Bear Crawls: Two Workouts To Add To Your Routine
As seen above, the bear plank chest press is more of an intermediate/advanced workout, not just anyone can do it. It requires access to a gym with its machines, and it’s also a compound exercise that has a lot of moving parts for it to work properly.
In this section, we will cover the bear crawl workout and planks, the two workouts that you need for a proper core workout in the bear plank chest press.
Plank Exercise Benefits
The plank is a popular core workout used by beginners and advanced gym goers everywhere to not only strengthen their core but also build the very enviable six pack abs. Plank exercise benefits, however, go beyond mere aesthetics. Some other reasons why you should do planks include
- Balance, stability, and better posture – Research has shown that a strong core helps improve balance, stability and strength while doing everyday tasks. It has also been shown to reduce stress on your joints and build better posture (5, 1).
- Improved flexibility – Planks look easy, but they are painful as hell. This is something that anyone who does them will tell you. What they won’t tell you, however, (probably because they are praying for the timer to sound) is that planks are a great way to stretch your lower body. The basic plank position lengthens your hamstrings as well as the arches in your feet, which helps with flexibility.
- It’s safer than crunches – Crunches and sit-ups are everyone’s go to when they want a workout to give them abs. What they don’t realize is that these workouts are hard on the spine and can lead to lower back injury and pain later on. A good planking position with a straight back causes no harm to the spine.
- It’s a compound workout – Have you ever wondered which muscle groups do planks work? This exercise targets your
- Rectus abdominis – The visible ‘six pack abs’ muscles
- Internal and external obliques – They are located on either side of your abs from your hips to your ribcage and help with hip and back stability as well as flexibility – they help you bend from one side to the other
- Transverse abdominis – They lie under the obliques and act as a corset holding in your organs and supporting the spine
- Serratus anterior – Helps to stabilize the shoulder, lift the ribs and assist with breathing.
- Glutes – Which strengthen and stabilize your hips as well as improving your posture and balance. A perky booty is also very aesthetically pleasing.
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How To Do A Plank
There are many variations of this exercise. Here is how to do a simple basic elbow plank:
- Start by getting on all fours on a yoga/exercise mat. While you can do this on the floor, a mat helps keep you from slipping and also provides cushioning for your elbows.
- Drop to your elbows.
- Stretch your legs backwards and rest on the balls of your feet. Do not bend or lock your knees.
- Ensure to flex your toes and keep your back flat and straight.
- Engage your core and remember to breathe. Keep your head and your eyes looking straight ahead
- Hold this position anywhere from 20 seconds to a full minute.
How To Do A Bear Plank
As mentioned above, the basic plank comes with many variations. The bear plank is one such variation. It is used by people who would want a more advanced/challenging version of the high plank.
Here is how to do it:
- Start by getting on all fours on a gym mat – this is otherwise referred as bear position.
- Align your hands and shoulders. Your wrists should be directly under your shoulders with your palms open and on the floor
- Make sure that your knees are directly under your hips. Flex your feet and make sure your toes are on the floor
- Engage your core and push your weight slightly forward to your shoulders and arms, lift yourself slightly off the floor.
- Do not go too high up. Knees should be at most about two inches off the ground.
- Hold this position for up to 60 seconds.
- Remember to keep the core engaged, breathe, keep the back straight and eyes forward.
How To Do A Bear Crawl
If the bear plank was a more challenging version of the basic plank, the bear crawl exercise takes things up a notch higher. Here is how to do it:
- Get into bear plank position as described above.
- Instead of holding still as you would in a plank, start crawling forward.
- Use your left leg and right arm to push yourself forward in a crawling motion. Transfer your weight to the other side and take another step using your right leg and left arm.
- Keep this up for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds and repeat.
- Do this until exhaustion.
What Are Some Bear Crawl Workout Benefits?
- It’s great for cardio – When it comes to cardio running, walking, and jogging are the most common exercises preferred by many. However, if you are unable to leave the house and do any of the above, try crawling around the house instead.
- It’s a full body workout – Like basic elbow or high planks, bear crawls are a full body workout. What makes them even better than planks is that they are more intense than the former due to the motion involved in the movement.
- It’s a fantastic agility workout – According to VeryWellFit, agility workouts help improve a person’s ability to move at an accelerated pace in one direction and then instantly decelerate and shift position within a matter of seconds. Other than this, they are said to help improve stability, improve performance, strengthen joints, and reduce the risk of injury during any types of workout/sports (3, 4, 2).
- It burns more calories – Unlike the bear plank that is static, the bear crawl as described requires movement, requiring more energy and burning more calories in the long run.
- It enhances mental fitness – One part of metal fitness is being able to concentrate without distractions. Because this workout requires you to not only move, but to also do so while keeping proper bear plank form and balance slightly off the ground, it engages your mind which helps keep you mentally fit.
- Enhances visual vigilance – Aside from mental fitness, such agility exercises are also said to boost visual vigilance, coordination, listening skills and much more (7).
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The Bottom Line: Is The Bear Plank Chest Press A Good Workout?
Yes, it is. If you have tried all other workouts and none have worked and are confused on how to tone your chest, then the bear plank cable chest press exercise should be your next go to workout. Remember that chest presses are great isolation workouts. Combined with the bear plank, you not only continue to engage the chest and shoulder area, but also the glutes and core.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Acute effects of core stability exercises on balance control (2018, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Benefits of Agility Training for Non-athletes (2014, acefitness.org)
- Evaluating Plyometric Exercises Using Time to Stabilization (2010, journals.lww.com)
- Physical demand of seven closed agility drills (2015, tandfonline.com)
- Progression of Core Stability Exercises Based on the Extent of Muscle Activity (2017, journals.lww.com)
- The Bear Plank Chest Press Chisels Out Your Pecs (2021, menshealth.com)
- The Influence of Agility Training on Physiological and Cognitive Performance (2013, journals.lww.com)