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What The Grizzly Bear Knows About Fitness

By: Matt Furey
Best Selling Author of "Combat Conditioning"

In my office I have a number of large framed pictures of grizzly bears. I have a number of coffee table grizzly and polar bear books as well.

I absolutely love to watch bears. I love to watch them fish, eat, fight and play. I also believe there is much we can learn about fitness by observing bears.

What do I mean?

Well, you know by now that I have a high regard for sprints - especially those done "up hill." You also know that the grizzly bear, despite its enormous size, is very, very fast. I've watched a 1,000 pound grizzly run down a jack rabbit, literally turning and cutting on the dime - and doing so with greater agility than the rabbit itself. Amazing to see this in action.

And so, did you ever consider how much it would benefit your fitness if you did some bear crawls a couple days per week? On pages 82-83 of Combat Conditioning, I teach the bear crawl - but like many who quite possibly overlooked the value of sprints in the same book - they may have passed this one by as well.

So let me tell you a little story:

Back in the 1980's, when I was working wrestling camps and clinics around the country for the University of Iowa, we literally put these kids through three and four workouts every single day, for 14-28 days. It really was like bootcamp for these kids.

Anyway, in the afternoon - when I would have the kids do sprints - there were always a number of boys who didn't quite understand English whenever I said "sprint."

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These boys would inevitably "dog it" when it came time to run at full speed. So I developed a solution to this problem. Whenever it happened I would stop the entire group and say: "Listen, if you don't want to sprint when I say sprint, no problem. I don't mind. I'll just switch you guys to bear crawls. And when you do the bear crawls, you're 100 percent welcome to go as slow as you want - although you might find that more painful than going fast. The choice is yours."

Well, as the kids weren't exactly sure whether "Sgt. Furey" - as they used to call me, meant biz or not - they tested me.

My reaction to their "test" was immediate. "Okay boys, let's get down on all fours and do the bear crawl."

What was the result? I'll tell you.

After two bear crawl sprints - these boys were eager to go back to the bipedal position. And do you know why?

Because bear crawls work practically every muscle in your body. They are far superior to running when building endurance, strength and agility. They will have you huffing and puffing in no time flat.

Granted, you may not be able to do very many - but I strongly encourage you to do what you can a few times per week. You'll be amazed at how much the simple bear crawl - done fast or slow - will change your body.

Copyright, Gold Medal Publications, Inc 2004


Editor's Note:

Be sure to take a look at Matt's Inner Circle - where you get online personalized training advice. Go Here and get started today.

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Copyright © 2004 Bob Cairns. All rights reserved.