T Nation

How much can you BEAR?

Trust me, Grant. I’ve been workin’ on that fluidity. I liken The Bear to a dynamic dance.

I may just make today’s session Bear Day.

depsyphor, I notice most of your repsonses on this forum have the same all or nothing, this suck, that sucks, attitude. But then I read your profile and noticed you were a 156 pound high school kid with only a year of training under your belt.

You’ll very like change your mind on many issues as you gain more experience and maturity.

Some interesting thoughts, but no stats. You can hate it or love it, but I know it has help my overall development tremendouesly. Short term goal is 3 x 5 at 135 lbs and 2 x 5 at 95lbs. We’ll see if I won’t move it out of rotatation for a while then.

It is a VERY limited exercise, that doesn’t mean that it sucks. I place it in the same tier as overhead squats. Limited, but useful in some instances, like Ko and Patricia said. I don’t ever see using it for athletics (besides strongman, maybe some martial arts) or bodybuilding. Just look at it this way: Improvements in squatting, cleaning, and pressing with all help improve the bear, but improvements in the bear won’t transfer the other way.

jeffaruni, curious as to why you think o-head squats are limited … in what way do you mean?

I think the bear is a quality conditioning exerscice, it is much like la training, and who ever says you cant use weights for conditioning is a idiot, i would much rather have my athlete do the bear than do stupid cardio, now if everyone here was saying cardio sucks i would agree, but exerscices like the bear, gpp warmups, and latic acid training are a must for a athlete becuase they bring there on the field work capactiy up and if you cant figure out why you are a idiot, and seperating lifting-cardio crap is stupid also, drop the cardio and add in gpp-strong man stuff, instead of doing hitt i would much rather have my athlete on his non-lifting days to things like med-ball circuts, tire flipping, med ball throws,sled dragging, 45 pound plate clean and throws, wheel-barrel work ect, all training has a place…big martin

Sorry, I won’t post my opinions any more.

I don’t think I singled out anyone in my post, if I did, sorry. I didn’t mean to. I never even said Coach Davies sucks. Verbally assaulting an exercise is a bit different than doing so to a person.

If I offended people, my bad. My personal opinion is the bear sucks. I agree with CT, that conditioning and strength training should be done separately (for almost anyone, minus SOME EXCEPTIONS ex: strongmen). I was being too general, next time I’ll specify.

Like I said, sorry if you were one of the people I offended when I insulted an exercise I think is stupid. If you disrespect my opinion, I don’t think that entitles you to disrespect me. Maybe my tone was too extreme, my bad. Chill.

PS: I’m doing Westside.

Big Martin - you da man. I agree.

I “suck wind” after just a couple of sets of The Bear; while I can easily survive 30-minutes on the treadmill or stationary bike. This from someone with asthma.

Now, I see where CT is coming from. BUT, I enjoy the challenge that The Bear complex and other like it can present. Take it from me, after 20-years of training, you’re always looking for something to maintain your interest in the gym.


Well, I just think that overhead squats have a very limited number of uses. Warmups, flexibility assessment, and perhaps skill training for the olympic lifts. When I was 20 I read this article as an aspiring discus thrower :


I immediatly decided that success lay with this lift. So, 5 months later, I could overhead squat 225 for 6 reps (big improvement) but my discus throwing when nowhere. Then, a year later, I got into some serious olympic lifting, and I threw the discus about 10 feet farther than my previous best, despite not practicing it for over 6 months. In hindsight, it was ridiculous to think that that overhead squatting had any carry over whatsoever. I can’t really think of a sport (even olympic lifting) where this would even be a valuable assistance lift. If you know of some, please let me know because I want to be prepared when I have to train someone who’s interested in that particular sport where overhead squatting would be useful.

Just because it’s limited doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy doing it. A friend of mine and I did it a few months about as kind of a mini competition. It was fun :slight_smile:

If you overhead squat, you best not have shoulder issues. Other than prepping an olympic lifter, I doubt there would be a very good carry over to athletics, as jeffaruni stated.

As for the bear, I press app. 200 lbs, squat with full gear 600, and clean app 225. I’ve done 300 x 20 raw below parallel. You can see how this would effectively limit improvement on any lift. The clean or press is the limiting factor for me. I have 75 yards of alley behind my office. Ten sled drags would take app 15 minutes and give me some great gpp.

Supersetting reverse hypers and glute ham raises would give me some great posterior chain work in 10 minutes. Given 15 minutes, I could get in a max effort session or speed seession, including warmups. I really don't see how it's an efficient use of time other than a diversion from you normal day to day.

You know, I notice how the power clean to front squat to push press combo has ALWAYS increased my strength and added muscle to my quads, hamstrings, shoulders. So how can the Bear be any different from that “tri-exercise”?

Plus Bernardi used “The Exercise:” a Bear minus the front squat. Plus Davies recommended reps of six. Maybe if you do reps of 2 or 3 and go heavier, you might get the necessary strength gains after all.

I enjoy the bear and the snatch complex, I kinda made one up. I use it inplace of a short workout. As part of my LA training, at the end for GPP. So it is tough. Great for conditioning. Sometimes you cant do hiit sprints outside and the bear is a grewat fill in. No it won’t take your 1RM to a new level, but it definitely has it’s place

Jeffaruni -
My guess is that you saw improvements from the Oly lifts because of their explosive nature. This (IMO) would be more likely to bring about an improvement in a powersport. Whereas doing an overhead squat (an exercise that is not as explosive in nature) wouldn’t quite have the same carryover to throwing.

Big Martin -
I am with you 150%. I would never separate weigths from conditioning. GPP with and without weights certainly gets my vote over lame-ass cardio anyday. (Unless I am training an endurance athlete, a place for everything and everything in its place.)

I think the one thing that has been established is that not every exercise works for every particular goal. There is always more than one way to accomplish something. First and foremost the goal needs to be established, then the appropriate exercises need to be selected and implemented. The bear has its place (albeit not everywhere) in a conditioning program. I would rather have a large arsenal of exercises to choose from when developing a conditioning program than limit my choices to a few.

Thanks for the reply. I’ll check out that article when I have a chance. As for explosiveness/direct sport carryover the o-head squat isn’t as good as the Olympic lifts … but when you look into it further, it is fantastic for shoulder ROM and CORE strength/stability. I have found that other lifts have gone up because the o-head squat attacks the weaknesses that other lifts don’t. If you want a more explosive version, try a drop/balance squat. Or, stay deep in the o-head squat position and have someone push you a little … called imperfect training. Really makes you work your core, and it’s a bitch! :slight_smile:

Well, I did them because I bought into the whole ‘it makes you one piece’ and ‘it really hits your core’ bs. I don’t believe that healthy athletes should have to train their core. If you lack middle body strength, I would do something like CT’s Ab Training for athletes and babe hounds…much more to the point and effective.

Like I said, I think it has it’s uses, there are just a limited number of them.

Wow, this turned into one of the best threads I’ve read lately. Just FYI for those that don’t know me, I was acting dumb when I asked my questions…I just wanted to see what people were thinking when they said the Bear doesn’t make you stronger…

By the way - Pat - good job on your progress. Keep it up. I actually never have done te Bear consistantly enough to give you any stats. Coach D has my workload high enough without adding any Bear sessions in!

In faith,

Thanks, Matt!

I’ve been using either 89 or 111lbs for the Bear. But am sticking with 89 until I get that flow down. I’m really working on the explosion up from the squat.

I love the Bear! I was up to 115 for 5x5, and would have moved up to 135, but a shoulder injury has forced me to stop. But it’s a fun way to do cardio and the perfect exercise for conditioning in sports such as wrestling.