How to do the ultimate animal kingdom workout

A fitness hypothetical for you: If you arrive to an empty soccer field on a perfect day, with an hour to train and no equipment at your disposal, how are you sweating?

Through a few laps with straight sprints, perhaps, or a full yoga sequence, or calisthenics circuits. You really can\’t go wrong. For a more energetic, offbeat, full-body workout, however, we recommend mixing and matching quad exercise patterns.

Call it beast mode, if you will: a 12-move workout, inspired entirely by the crawling, bouncing, and shuffling motions that occur naturally in the animal kingdom. As the phrase suggests, many including the most famous, the infamous bear crawl involve moving on all fours.

Animal movements comprise an extremely difficult form of exercise, requiring a combination of strength, control, flexibility and range of motion. They require you to get off the ground and repeat a favorite drill from the least loved high school coaches. They\’ll put you face to face with the richest areas of your body fast.

But that\’s only because animal movements run counter to the modern comfort crisis (to paraphrase fitness writer Michael Easter). They immediately set about undoing the damage that the age of sedentary work has done to our shoulders, lower back and hip flexors.

Guys like Animal Flow creator Mike Fitch and sit thrus king Joseph Da Rulk Sakoda are at the forefront of this movement. Their credo: back to the jungle floor. Use your back, rotate your hips, jump like your life depends on it. Eons ago, he really did.

Not to mention, while primal fitness may seem intimidating or enthusiastic, it involves just the kind of movement patterns kids perform in the sandbox and jungle gym. We lose our flexibility (and energy) as we age, no question. But we can still retain our love and penchant for movements that once felt fun and natural.

This guide is a great starting point. From crab crawls to kangaroo hopping, clock this workout in the next time you hit our fabled soccer field, or a stretch of sand, or that grassy section in the back of the gym. Stick with them, however difficult they may be at first. And remember: the move you hate is usually the one you most need to master.


How to do it: Start in a standing position. Lean forward and touch the ground with your hands, then bring yourself forward into plank position. Now, bring your feet towards your hands and stand up again. This move strengthens your core and improves flexibility.

In a workout: This is a great way to ease into other animal-inspired moves. Start with two sets of 10 repetitions.

Crawling bear

How to do it: Get on all fours, making sure your knees are poised As soon as off the ground. Now move forward, with opposite hands and feet moving together. This move is wicked, but it does wonders for your strength and coordination.

In a workout: Make sure you have enough room to tolerate crawling four steps forward and four steps back. Repeat this movement for 30 seconds at a time, then take a minute to rest. Four sets, in total.

Crab walk backwards

How to do it: This is probably familiar from elementary school PE From a seated position, lift your body by pressing down with your hands and feet. (The hands can point back or to the side, whichever is more comfortable.) Move backwards, alternating hands and feet. Try to move slowly and in a controlled manner and lift your hand and foot at the same time.

In a workout: Walk 15 feet backwards, then return to starting position and repeat. 10 repetitions. This move can also be done similar to the bear crawl, where you travel backwards four steps, then return to the starting position.

Leap of the frog

How to do it: Squat low, touching your hands to the floor between your feet. Then explode like a spring-loaded frog desperately trying to become the next lily pad as you throw your arms in the air.

In a workout: Perfect for HIIT circuits, they pair easily with non-animal pieces like burpees and mountain climbers. Do sets of 10 breaststroke jumps, then take a 30-second break. Repeat this four times.

Flying squirrel

How to do it: Lie on your stomach with your arms and legs extended, then lift your arms and legs up at the same time, holding them there briefly before releasing them.

Ia workout: Do three sets of 15 reps. It\’s okay to start with 10 reps per set if needed. These are deceptively difficult. If you find them too easyon the other hand, try your hand at the legendary flying squirrel burpee.

Duck walk

How to do it: Start in a deep squat position, keeping your back straight, hips low, and weight firmly in your heels. Now he starts walking forward with small steps, maintaining the squat. He tries not to lean forward too much (he will strain his knees too much) and keep your back straight.

In a workout: There\’s a basic workout for this move: walk for 30 seconds, rest for one minute, four sets. It\’s worthy of your time. Our unusual recommendation, though? Go walk on the soccer field near your house. Barefoot.

Scope of the scorpion

How to do it: Start in a plank/push-up position. He lifts one leg off the ground, bends the knee and pushes it towards the opposite hand. Then throw it backwards, angling it towards your opposite shoulder. Hold for a second, before pushing it back to the opposite hand. There is Nothing intuitive about this, then fiddle around until you\’ve established a flow.

In a workout: Try just 10 on each side, then rest for a minute. Four sets if you can.

Gorilla Shuffle

How to do it: This is a lateral movement. Start in a deep squat position, with arms loose. He leaps slightly to the side, guiding his hands along the way like a silverback shuffling across the jungle floor. Once you master it, it\’s a more natural approach to that resistance band shuffling that you\’ve probably seen people do at the gym.

In a workout: Try this for timing two right shuffles, two left shuffles, for 30 second intervals. Three sets.

Spider walk

How to do it: Another complicated one. Start in a high plank position, with your hands directly under your shoulders and your body straight. Lower yourself towards the ground, tucking your elbows out to the sides, keeping your body a few inches off the floor. Just take one step outside of your hand on the same side. Now move your other hand forward, followed by the opposite foot. Repeat this pattern for walking forward. Here\’s a closer look.

In a workout: You\’ll want to establish a concrete distance here, as frantic movements have no obvious subdivisions. Try 15 yards or so. Then back to top. Three sets total.

Leopard wildcat

How to do it: The bear crawls elegant (and more difficult) cousin. It\’s similar to the popular move, except your knees are much closer to the ground, almost brushing it, and your body stays parallel to the floor, instead of turning into an inverted V shape. Get on all fours, keeping your body close to the ground. Crawl forward, moving opposite hands and feet together.

Ia workout: Make sure you have enough space for the leopard to crawl four steps forward and four steps back. Repeat this movement for 30 seconds at a time, then take a minute to rest. Four sets.

Kangaroo jump

How to do it: Definitely the funniest and most intuitive animal move here. Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Lower your body into a half squat, swing your arms back and then forward as you leap forward, doing your best to land softly. Then immediately sink into a half squat for the next jump. This animal move also falls under the umbrella of plyometric movements.

In a workout: Do 10 to 20 kangaroo jumps in a row, somewhere with plenty of room. Get some rest. Do two more sets. Your local park outback for the afternoon.

Aboreal Dead Hang

How to do it: One is not like the others. While everything else here can be performed on a yoga mat or soccer field, this move requires a pull-up bar (or something else sturdy to hang, like a tree branch). Grasp the branch/bar firmly with both hands and simply let the body hang. Your feet should not touch the ground, your body should be fully extended. Keep your chin tucked in towards your chest.

In a workout: This is not a high intensity move. Simply plug in a minute or more at the end of your workout to stretch your back, arms and shoulders. Gradually increase the time you get better at holding the block.

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