You’re short on both equipment and time, but you’re looking for an upper body circuit that will simultaneously build strength and muscular endurance in your chest, triceps and shoulders. It’s time, therefore, to get on the floor and start bear crawling. All you’ll need to complete the workout we’re about to show you is 20 yards of unimpeded floor space and the will to finish what you’ve started – which, mark our words, you’re going to need.

The bear crawl – propelling yourself on all fours without allowing your knees to touch the ground – has been a favorite of sadistic football coaches and military drill instructors for decades, and for good reason. Because of the human body’s leverages, it’s an almost exclusive upper body strength movement that puts constant, unwavering pressure on your chest, triceps and shoulders. By the time you’re done, all three muscle groups will burn like you’ve never felt before. 

With the workout below, however, we’re adding a significant twist. Instead of going solely with the conventional forward bear crawl, you’ll be working your muscles from a variety of unfamiliar angles as you crawl forward, backward and side-to-side. The backward bear crawl is an especially brutal variation that will have your triceps screaming for mercy within the first five yards. And just to increase the degree of difficulty, you’ll be performing sets of push-ups – without allowing yourself to rest – between trips.

Upper Body Bear Crawl Workout

Start this workout in push-up position and give us five good ones. Bear crawl forward 20 yards, do five more push-ups, and then, without resting, bear crawl backward 20 yards to the starting line and crank out five more push-ups. After resting for 60 seconds, you’ll perform another there-and-back set in similar fashion, except this time you’ll be crawling sideways – reaching your lead leg as far to the side as you can and moving with a hand-over-hand action. Perform as many rounds as you can, trying to increase how many you can do each time out. 

(A) 5 push-ups, 20 yard forward bear crawl, 5 push-ups, 20 yard backward bear crawl, 5 push-ups

Rest 60 seconds

(B) 5 push-ups, 20 yard sideways bear crawl, 5 push-ups, 20 yard sideways bear crawl, 5 push-ups

Rest 60 seconds

(C) Repeat both versions, doing as many rounds as possible.