Exercise of the Week: Bear Push-ups

About the Author: Eric Cressey

Today’s guest post comes from Cressey Sports Performance coach, Ethan Dyer. 

The Bear Push-Up is an upper body movement we’ve been using with our athletes who struggle to find effective shoulder internal rotation and traditional protraction during push-ups from the floor or certain cable presses.

Generally, in throwers, we see the gradual loss of gross internal rotation over the course of a career and sometimes over the course of a season. This is largely due to bony adaptations (humeral retroversion), but also due to adaptations to the eccentric stress they encounter at the arm during a throw – especially on the mound. While a loss of external rotation in throwers is typically more problematic than a loss of internal rotation, really any loss of motion should be addressed – and this drill (as part of a comprehensive program) can help offset the gradual loss of IR we might see.

When we place the athlete in a position of flexion at the hip and knee, we’re pulling them away from what we’d traditionally think of as anterior pelvic tilt and gross extension. We’re giving them a better chance to capture some traditional flexion through their upper back in a way that should allow for as much internal rotation and protraction as possible through the press.

There’s even more value here – in wrist extension, some throwers lack the requisite internal rotation through their distal forearm and hand needed to perform effective push-ups from the ground. By using a barbell, we can mitigate this issue while simultaneously biasing additional internal rotation at the shoulders due to the pronated grip.

All of this comes together to make the bear push-up a great choice for throwers who need to drive a little more internal rotation at the shoulder, while getting in some pressing volume with an accessory-type movement. If your push-ups just don’t look right, or they struggle to find good scapular movement around the rib cage even when cued up, give these a shot. Depending on the rest of the day, you’re looking at 2-3 sets of 12-15 or something like 3-5 sets of 6-8.

About the Author

Ethan Dyer serves as a Strength & Conditioning coach at Cressey Sports Performance. He started as a client at CSP and eventually went on to intern at CSP-MA. Following another internship at Indianapolis Fitness and Sports Training, Ethan joined the CSP-MA team. He was a pitcher at the College of the Holy Cross before transferring to Endicott College to complete his undergraduate work with a major in Exercise Science and minor in Psychology. A Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach through the National Strength and Conditioning Association, Ethan has been a volunteer with both the Miracle League and Special Olympics, and has a passion for working with young athletes to help them fall in love with training while avoiding injury. You can follow him on Instagram at @Ethan___Dyer.

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