I’m excited to bring you our first post from our Animal Flow Master Instructor Clifton Harski. Clifton has a long history as a student of human movement, including as a lifelong athlete and collegiate basketball player who also holds a degree in Kinesiology His current position as Director of Programming for Fitwall, plus his previous experience with MoveNat, have provided him with a wealth of knowledge about climbing, swinging, and moving better. You can be sure you’ll be hearing more from him on our site! – Mike Fitch

Mike Fitch incorporates some climbing into his workout!
Mike Fitch incorporates some climbing into his workout!

Climbing and Brachiation (aka Swinging) is a great bodyweight training tool that can improve any training program. Practicing these motions will develop the grab and pull system perhaps better than other dedicated traditional pulling strength work. That’s why we included a whole chapter on Climbing and Brachiation in our new ebook Animal Flow for Fighters. This covers a whole new area for Animal Flow, bringing in a fantastic element to https://www.globalbodyweighttraining.com/?p=3087&preview=trueadd to any training program that also fills in movement holes. But it’s not just for Animal Flow – everyone should be using this in their bodyweight training!

(You can get the ebook right now as part of the Ultimate Fitness Bundle, which includes 72 fitness resources – our book plus 71 more! The original sale ended Monday Nov 10, but it has been extended for one day only at $49. The guys running the sale tell us it will not be extended past Tuesday at midnight, so get yours now!


Climbing and brachiation teaches you to develop rhythm, coordination, problem solving, and how to leverage their body weight in relation to gravity through varied obstacles. In addition, including it in your training program is a great and unique way to improve upper body pulling strength, build core strength, increase overall mobility, and develop broad work capacity with lots of carry over to other training goals.

Let’s use the example of the traditional upper body bodyweight pulling exercise – the Pull Up – to explore why climbing and brachiation can make such a difference in your training. The Pull-Up is a fantastic drill, no doubt, but there is much more that can be trained in regards to bodyweight training from a pulling perspective. The Pull-Up alone will not entirely prepare you for more complex and interesting bodyweight pulling exercises.

There are a number of reasons why moving and swinging your own body through space may be superior to just multiple derivatives of pull-ups:

  1. Coordination
  2. Timing
  3. Brain usage
  4. Grip
  5. Larger ranges of movement
  6. More reactivity and reflexivity needed

and more, which are all discussed more detailed in our Animal Flow for MMA book on sale HERE.


Climbing and brachiation develops the grab and pull system perhaps better than any other dedicated traditional pulling strength work. Brachiatrion (from “brachium”, Latin for “arm”), or arm swinging, is a form of arboreal locomotion in which primates swing from tree limb to tree limb using only their arms. The key here is “arm swinging…locomotion”.

To get started try just adding one very basic drill into your training. The Side-to-Side Static Swing with Hand Release is a great place to begin, as this basic swing wil help to develop reactive grip strength, eccentric control, and coordination. The simple element of resetting your grip with each swing will also mean that every pull will be slightly different, so the movement variability of your upper body pulling training is improved with just this very easy drill.

To perform the Side-to-Side Static Swing with Hand Release, all you will need is a pull-up bar, swing set, or any other high bar.

Side to Side Static Swing 1
Side to Side Static Swing 1
Side to Side Static Swing 2
Side to Side Static Swing 2

Side to Side Static Swing 3
Side to Side Static Swing 3

First, practice the basic Side to Side Swing:

With a double overhand grip you will be swinging your legs and torso side to side, helped by a pull from one arm:

  • Begin in a passive hang.
  • Pull with one arm, bending that arm and driving your legs to that same side.
  • As you let that arm relax and your legs fall to the other side, repeat with the other side. Try to create as a big pendulum as possible.

Technique pointers: (1) Keep your legs relaxed so they can swing freely side to side; (2)Reset if you begin to travel in a big circle.

Second, add in the Hand Release:

  • Repeat the side to side swing, but at the apex of your movement to one side simply take the bent arm hand off the pole, then put it back on.
  • Aim to make this look relaxed and easy.

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For more drills for and details about climbing and brachiation be sure to grab the Animal Flow for Fighters ebook, currently available as part of the Ultimate Fitness Bundle while it is still on sale for a ridiculously cheap $49 deal. Sales has been extended for 24 hours to end Tuesday Nov 11 at midnight!


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