The popularity of animal flow exercises is increasing by leaps and bounds. We have seen various kinds of bodyweight trainings impersonating our friendly four legged creatures in one way or the other, but only now is it getting popular. Whether you’re a yogi, a practitioner of parkour, a B-boy, a strongman or an MMA fighter, we are noticing that more and more fitness instructors are incorporating these movements in workouts.
So that leaves us with the question, why are an animal workout so beneficial and why should everyone be doing them? Let’s start from the beginning, yes the popularity of using animal movements has escalated recently, but it has been with us for ages and ages.It was there when there were not too many gyms mushrooming around everywhere. In other words, it is like getting back to the basics, so find out some of the benefits of this intriguing workout!
Benefits of Animal Workouts
The benefits of this fitness training routine are many, and before including these exercises into your fitness regime, here’s what you need to know. There are too many benefits to ignore.
- Developing strength and co-ordination- You probably have an idea about how babies increase their coordination, strength, and muscles before they take to walking on their two-legs. The point is, once a child learns to walk on his two legs, he hardly feels the necessity to crawl. But the fact is you can gain a lot by continuing with the crawling movements, just utilizing all of that great synergy between the upper part of the body and the lower body, for synchronizing movements. That the upper body needs to be as dynamic as the lower body, is a fact that we need to ingrain in ourselves.
- Stability- The word stability immediately makes us the think of “core stability”. Core stability is, of course, important but there are few other things which are as important as things which will boost our performance, agility and also prevent injuries.
The body’s four essential forms of stability are:
- The scapulohumeral joint, which is also known as the shoulder joint, where the torso is linked to the arm.
- The scapulothoracic, which is a link between the upper spine and the shoulder blade
- The lumbosacral joint, located at the lower back, where the lower part of the spine is linked to the pelvis and sacrum.
- The hip joint, this is a joint which is often ignored, and ignoring it will mean that the lower body will get affected; specially the knee and the ankle.
It is very rare to find a workout which activates and challenges of all the above four points simultaneously, like animal body weight exercises. It works your overall stability like no other and this is what works in favor of animal flow moves.
- Mobility/Agility- It is very difficult to achieve joint stability when we increase our agility or flexibility. But, if we do perform the animal moves properly, we can increase the range of motions and at the same time not compromise on the overall stability of our joints. The muscles surrounding the joints get considerably strengthened, thus increasing the dynamic flexibility.
- Increasing your Strength- The best part of moving on your fours is increasing the wrist strength significantly, as well as an increase in shoulder and trunk strength.
- Increasing your Cardiovascular Endurance- Looks can be deceptive, yes, because the moves look pretty doable at a glance but when you go onto your fours like a crab for forty yards, you will be left with your tongue lolling out, it is that intense! Your muscles need oxygen to function and when all your muscles are working in tandem, you are left gasping for breath, your heart pumping out loud. Also, the best part is that you can change the intensity of these exercises according to your stamina.
The Animal Flow Workouts
The workouts combine quadruped and ground-based movements with different kinds of elements thrown in from various bodyweight training exercises to create a fun, challenging, and a multi-dimensional workout. It is tailored to fit people with varying fitness levels, and each one of them will benefit from these moves, increasing their mobility, stability, flexibility, power and endurance in the process.
1. Crab Reach:
The best warm-ups include moving your body through a series of motions similar to a crab. It increases the mobility of and lubricates the joints, which is why it is known as the beast body workout. It hits every muscle in the body.
- Start in a crab position, with your fingers pointing away from the body, hips lifted about an inch from the ground.
- Bend your right arm, bringing it in front of your chest in between your legs.
- Reach your right arm up and over towards the ground and push your hips as high as you can, looking towards the ground.
- Let the upper arm relax and bend 90 degrees. Lower to start, repeating 8 times in a row then switching sides to repeat 8 more times. Move slowly and deliberately to actively stretch through a full range of motion.
2. Scorpion Reach:
Another effective warm-up exercise is the scorpion reach, it helps activate your muscles before you move on to more intense and difficult moves.
- Try and balance on your hands and feet with hips lifted and chest pushed back towards your legs, knees slightly bent. Keep your hands steady on the ground.
- Allow your head to fall naturally between the arms.
- Lift right leg up to the ceiling, keeping the knee bent about 90 degrees and open to the side. Move your weight as far forward as possible, while bringing your right knee past the outside of your left elbow, left leg extended.
- Bring your leg back up to the ceiling. Repeat 8 times in a row then switch legs to repeat 8 more times. Keep your movements deliberately slow, actively stretching through a full range of motion
3. Traveling Primate:
It targets your shoulders, abs, hips, and quads.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart and toes out. Crouch down, placing palms on floor to the right of the body (left hand by right foot).
- Keep your palms planted throughout, jump your feet to the right; land with a left foot between hands, left knee bent, and right leg straight. Take your hips to the right to reset position (left leg straightens and right knee bends), and place your palms on the floor outside of the right foot to complete 1 rep.
- Do about 6 reps; change directions and repeat. Do 2 sets.
If you find it difficult, shift positions instead of jumping.
4. Stork Seesaw:
This is a great workout to work those abs, hips butt, quads, and hamstrings.
- Stand with feet together and clasp arms behind back. Lift right knee forward to hip level, foot flexed.
- Balancing on your left leg, squat slightly and hinge forward from the hips until your back is nearly parallel to the floor and your right heel is in line with your back.
- Return to upright stork stance; repeat. Do 12 reps; switch legs and repeat. Do 2 sets.
5. Crab Flip:
It targets the back, triceps, butt, and hamstrings.
- Sit on the floor with knees bent, feet flat, and place palms on the floor behind you, fingers pointing away from the body. Lift your butt 1 or 2 inches off the floor.
- Raise your right arm overhead as you lift hips off the floor as high as possible, arching your back.
- Lower hips toward floor and place right hand down, keeping butt lifted. Repeat with left arm.
- Do 2 sets of 12 reps, alternating sides.
6. Travelling Beast:
This move mimics the exact movement of an ape. It helps work out your abs, quads, in fact, your entire body.
- Balance on your hands and feet, wrists positioned below shoulders and knees hovering an inch above the ground slightly in front of the hips and under the naval.
- Keep your core engaged as you step your left foot and right hand forward.
- Then, step forward with your right foot and left arm. Move 4 strides forward and 4 strides backward to complete 1 repetition.
- Do 16 repetitions total.
7. Lateral Lunge:
This is another complete body workout which helps workout most muscles of your body.
- Stand with your core muscles tight.
- Bend yourself lower into a right side lunge, left arm reaching across to right foot, right arm extended back with both arms ready to generate rotational power.
- Push off your right leg and jump up, swinging arms overhead.
- Land softly inside lunge on the left, with your right arm reaching across, left arm back.
- If you are unable to do this, instead of jumping try to step out. Perform 16 reps, in alternate directions, moving deliberately and actively through a full range of motion.
8. Side Kick Through:
This exercise helps work on your glutes and quads, giving your legs a mean workout.
- Start on your hands and knees, and engage your core to lift knees a few inches from the ground.
- Move your body to the right, extending your left leg into a kick about an inch above the ground in front of you.
- Your right heel should be pressed flat into the floor as right arm bands and lifts out to the side, palm facing up.
- Powerfully pull the kicking leg back under the body to return to start and repeat to the other side. Perform 16 reps, alternating sides each time, moving slowly and deliberately through a full range of motion.
9. Ape Squat:
This exercise targets your shoulders, back, triceps, abs, butt, quads, and calves.
- Stand straight with feet hip-width apart, toes pointed out, and get into a deep squat, bending knees out to sides; reach your arms between knees toward the floor with palms facing out.
- Maintain the crouch position the entire length of the throughout, lift heels off the floor and straighten torso as you raise your arms out to sides rotate your wrists so that your palms face up and squeeze your shoulder blades together.
- Get into the crouching position again by lowering your arms and heels to start position.
- Do 2 sets of 12 reps.
10. Advanced Crab Position:
Get down into your animal flow by revisiting the crab position. In this style of workouts, it is important to release the stress on the shoulders and wrist while it opens up the hips in the best way possible.
- You have, to begin with, get into a crab position, with fingers pointing away from the body, moving your hips about an inch above the ground.
- Bend your right arm, bringing it towards your chest in between your legs.
- Extend your right arm up and over towards the ground and push your hips as high as you can, your head bent towards the ground.
- Let your upper arm relax and bend 90 degrees. Bend low to start, repeating 8 times one after the other, then shift sides to repeat 8 more times.
- With slow and deliberate moves, stretch through a full range of motion.
Animal Flow makes for a wonderful, complete workout of its own. In animal flow classes, the entire hour is dedicated to the flow besides incorporating other exercises. This blends in some serious cardiovascular conditioning in as well as muscular endurance. It can be compared to any sporting activity that requires continuous movement in various directions. Apart from that, you can work on your shoulder and wrist stability way better than other sports.
Also, it is unlike those dance classes where you need to master the moves, in these animal bodyweight exercises you need not master any moves, all you need to do is go with the flow! So if you are tired and bored of the same old cardio routines, it is time to incite the animal in you! Don’t worry, just start a beast body workout which will help you shed the excess flab and build muscle endurance.