Fitness tip - Bear saw

Fitness tip - Bear saw

by Evigan Xiao 18 Feb 2020

Core training might seem simple on paper, but there are times when it can be just as sadistic in practice. Certain movements can generate fatigue to the point where the mere idea of standing up (if you're on the ground to begin with) seems nigh impossible. Of course, the movement has to be effective in order for the pain to be worthwhile, and the bear saw certainly adheres to this principle.


Most people in the functional training community are familiar with the bear crawl. While often used in the US military to punitive ends, the bear crawl is nevertheless a great exercise for building core strength and stability. The body saw on the other hand, is slightly more exotic. Often used by strength and conditioning practitioners, it's a movement that's equally challenging despite its outward appearance. As one can imagine, combining these two exercises results in something that's on a whole other level.

Location and equipment courtesy of TripleFit


The premise of the bear saw is simple: you mimic the movement of the body saw while retaining the posture of the bear crawl. Setting up for the bear crawl requires you to be on all fours but with your knees off the ground. Rest your feet on a pair of slideboards and proceed to “saw” your body back and forth.


It might sound simple but there are plenty of movement “rules” to adhere to. For starters, your lower back must maintain a neutral arch. Secondly, the shoulders must be depressed and “screwed in”. They should not be floating or moving around freely while you perform the bear saw (think “shoulders in the back pocket”). Finally, the hips must remain in a semi-flexed position, a little bit great than 90°  This creates tension in the anterior core while ensuring that your legs don't assist with the movement. Make sure that your legs don't end up being tucked underneath you; think about keeping your shins parallel to the floor.


A couple of sets of 10 repetitions should be enough for you to develop a stronger core (as well as a deep-seated resentment for this exercise). As with all form of core training, the bear saw is about strict and controlled movement. Mindless swinging for the sake of getting the repetitions in will not have you seeing any benefits and only serves to tire you out. Approach it humbly and you will be rewarded with honest results.