The growing popularity of training using animal movements is a great thing. Weâ€™ve seen all different disciplines of bodyweight training mimicking our friendly fury critters in one way or the other. Whether youâ€™re a yogi, a traceur, a B-boy, a strongman or an MMA fighter, weâ€™re seeing more and more of animal forms popping up in training. So why are animal movements so beneficial and why should everyone be doing them?
To begin with, using animal movements is engrained in our DNA. Even though I sometimes hear it called â€œthe next big thingâ€ due its rising popularity, animal movement exercise is actually one of the oldest styles of movement in our history. Having been part of every step of human evolution, this style of exercise may actually be the original big thing! Here are some of the main benefits:
BENEFITS OF ANIMAL MOVEMENTS
You probably already know that the crawling phase of babies is essential to development of coordination, strength, and muscles, so that they can progress to walking on two legs. But you might not know that there is still a lot to be gained by continuing crawling movements, using all of that great synergy between the upper and lower body for synchronizing movements. Sadly, once we learn to walk, we rarely go back to the ground, leaving us lower body dominant when travelling.
When most people hear the word â€œstabilityâ€ they think of â€œcoreâ€ stability. While this is important, there are also a few other areas that are essential to performance and injury prevention. I like to think of it as the bodyâ€™s four basic points of stability:
1) The scapulohumeral joint, or the shoulder joint, where the arm attaches to the torso;
2) The scapulothoracic, which is the relationship of the shoulder blade to the upper spine;
3) The lumbosacral joint, at the lower back, where the last section of the spine connects to the sacrum and pelvis; and
4) The hip joint, an often overlooked point which can affect the entire lower body, including especially the knee and ankle.
Rarely are we in a position that challenges or requires simultaneous activation of all four points of stability like in the animal movements. Itâ€™s a great way to work on some really essential components of your overall stability.
Often times itâ€™s argued that with increased flexibility or mobility we risk joint stability. However, when performed properly, we can use animal movements to increase range of motion at the joints while still increasing stability. You can look at it as dynamic flexibility while strengthening the muscles surrounding the joint.
When you spend significant time moving around on all fours, you can dramatically increase wrist strength, shoulder strength, and trunk strength. Youâ€™ll also strengthen all of the muscles in the lower body.
Before you say that animal movements donâ€™t look like much of a cardiovascular workout, try crab walking just 50 yards. Your lungs will be gasping for more air! Itâ€™s simple: muscles require oxygen, and when almost all of your muscles are working at once, your body needs a whole lot of air. You can also change the intensity to get a more anaerobic effect.
LEARNING THE ANIMAL FLOW WORKOUT
So as you can see, the pros of using the animal movements can cross over into any sport or workout. Not only will you see incredible training benefits, but youâ€™ll be incorporating some fun and new movements into your routine. That’s why Iâ€™m happy to announce that weâ€™ve just finished up our very first instructional video called the â€œAnimal Flow Workoutâ€.
After countless hours of observing, studying and testing it out on myself, Iâ€™ve come up with my own unique style of an animal movement system. I base all of the movements around what I call the basic Four Pillar stance, where all of your arms and legs are connected to the ground in a set, stable form. From there, the body can move into an endless flow of movements, stretches, switches, combos, and travels. The workout is super challenging and you wonâ€™t believe the results.
The DVD includes a comprehensive introduction to animal movements and detailed instructions on each form. After completing a step-by-step warm up, youâ€™ll learn multiple drills and combinations. When youâ€™re ready, you can move on to the sample workouts for both indoors and outdoors. One of the great things about the Animal Flow system is its flexibility, allowing you to perform it by itself or integrate it into your own training program. Youâ€™re going to be thrilled with the results!
Many thanks to Cody Patrick and Libby Weintraub for their help with the photos seen here, and with the video.
Check out the video details here: The Animal Flow Workout