Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
1 Nov

WOW: The Cave Bear

pbf wow 2

5 cycles of 4 reps:

Hang Clean to Right Shoulder
Left Leg Lunge
Right Shoulder Dominant Push Press
(Repeat sequence on left side to complete one rep)

How-to:

Warmup: Pick two or three exercises from the hip mobility post. Finish with a 30 second Grok Squat.

Equipment: Something heavy that can rest on a single shoulder – think sandbag, heavy rock, heavy bag, slosh tube, kettlebell, dumbell.

Are you aware of the Bear?

The Bear is a popular, grueling complex of movements that attempts to – and, I think, succeeds at – provide an intense total body strength/conditioning workout using free weights. It’s not clear where or when it started, nor who came up with it, but I’m going to tweak it pretty hard for this week’s WOW. Typically performed using a barbell, the Bear puts you through the ringer: a clean to a front squat to a push press to a back squat to a behind-the-neck push press to a clean, and repeat. It’s tough, no doubt, and you’ll generally see it used as a conditioning exercise. A typical Bear complex might include five cycles of seven complete Bears. With one Bear containing five exercises that’s a total of 35 exercises per cycle, in case you’re counting. I love the time economy inherent to the Bear, but I’m not sure about that kind of volume: thirty-five full body, relatively complex “exercises” performed five times for speed. If you use a light enough weight, I suppose it’s a great for conditioning, but I prefer to bend toward the strength side of the spectrum.

The Cave Bear is different. Instead of five cycles of seven, it’s five cycles of four using a heavier weight. It plays with asymmetry, and it forces you to perform unilateral movements with one side of the body while balancing a heavy weight on the other side.

  1. Perform a hang clean (with two hands), bringing the weight to your right shoulder.
  2. With the weight at your right shoulder perform a left leg forward lunge.
  3. Then, with assistance from your left arm, perform a right shoulder dominant push press.
  4. Repeat this sequence of movements, this time with your left shoulder dominant (hang clean to left shoulder, right leg lunge, push press with left shoulder dominant), to complete one full rep.
  5. Complete four reps for one cycle. Rest up to two minutes between cycles.Perform five cycles to complete this WOW.

In case you aren’t familiar with hang cleans, here’s how you do one. Hold the weight down past your waist with straight arms. Keeping your torso tight and rigid, stick your butt back and slightly bend your knees until the weight sits just above them. Now you’ve got to clean the weight up to your right shoulder. A clean is not an arm or shoulder exercise; it’s a hip exercise. The power starts in your hips and is realized through an explosive hip extension. Keep that torso tight and explode up, like you’re jumping and extending your hips and thrusting them forward, pulling against the floor with your heels, and using your arms as passive bands to transfer the power of your hip extension into the weight as it travels up to your right shoulder. That’s a clean.

A push press is similar. The setup is similar to that of the clean – tight torso, butt back, slight knee bend – and it too draws its power from the hip snap. Keep the weight on your shoulder and once your hips and knees are fully extended and the power has moved upward, you push the weight up. Done correctly, your push press should be about 30% stronger than your strict overhead press.

Variations:

Instead of doing left leg lunge/weight on right shoulder combinations, switch to a left leg lunge/weight on left shoulder focus. This will change the balancing dynamic of the exercise, so be careful. You can also go lighter for more reps. I prefer the strength focus, but you can certainly work on conditioning by using a lighter object and going for more volume. Done this way, the Cave Bear will be like a far more intense form of Cave Burpees.

What are WOWs?

  • Workouts of the Week (WOWs) are an optional component of Primal Blueprint Fitness that add a fractal and often fun and playful quality to the basic PBF protocol.
  • In most cases WOWs should only be completed by those that have mastered Level 4 of each Lift Heavy Things Essential Movement. Also, it’s recommended that WOWsreplace one or both Lift Heavy Things workouts or the Sprint workout (depending on the WOW) each week instead of being done in addition to the Lift Heavy Things and Sprint workouts.
  • Learn more about WOWs and Primal Blueprint Fitness by getting the free eBook. And access all Workouts of the Week in the WOW Archive.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Another great one to be done indoors. thanks mark.

    Robert wrote on November 1st, 2010
  2. Sounds like fun. Thanks!

    Jim Arkus wrote on November 1st, 2010
  3. Looks like a useful workout. Thanks!

    Ahmed Serag wrote on November 1st, 2010
  4. A very interesting, fun and intense sounding workout, I’m looking forward to trying this. What kinds of weight do people think they’ll use?

    SLS wrote on November 1st, 2010
  5. Is the push press completed after returning to the upright position after the lunge, or “during” the lunge? I’m guessing after the lunge, but that could be an interesting variation with a lighter weight (unless I’m wrong, of course).

    ioelus wrote on November 2nd, 2010
  6. this looks challenging. Not sure what weight to use and how to progress.

    NUFF wrote on November 2nd, 2010
  7. Used a 40 pound bag and completed the workout, doing the push press after the lunge. I was concerned my legs wouldn’t get the workout my arms (shoulders) would, but the lunges certainly took care of that. Legs are still pleasantly sore. The difficulty stabilizing the bag kept the push presses interesting. Fourth cycle got pretty difficult, so I really focused on my form and slowed down a little. Didn’t time myself, but I know my rest didn’t approach 2 minutes between cycles. I’ll do this one again in a few days; maybe I’ll time that one.

    ioelus wrote on November 2nd, 2010
  8. Sounds good, and I think I got it piecing things together, but I’d really appreciate a video of all of this specifically. *crosses fingers*

    Todd wrote on November 9th, 2010
  9. I didn’t read all of the replies, so maybe someone has already mentioned this. I learned of the “Bear” from Coach John Davies aka The Renegade in a clinic with him and an article he wrote for T-Nation.com. I love the stuff here and am bit by bit going more primal everyday. I found this site when cruising the MovNat Facebook page, and have been thrilled with the movement pieces. My students in my physical education classes are going to have a ball with all of this. Thanks for all you have given.

    Tim Dennis wrote on September 5th, 2011

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