Get Better Results with 6 Animal-Inspired Exercises
If you’ve noticed gym-goers crouching, hopping, and slithering during a workout these days, you’ve spotted the latest fitness trend: taking a cue from the animal kingdom and doing muscle-building exercises that tap into your primal side. Challenge your entire body in a fun, functional way by adding these animal-like moves to your usual routine.
You’ll need: Gliding discs, Medicine ball (optional)
This move trains your body to keep your torso stable as you move your extremities. “It engages muscles from your hands to your feet, although the main ones involved are your abs and shoulder stabilizers,” says Ryan Rogers, strength and conditioning coach at Fitness Quest 10.
A Get in plank position with hands on floor below shoulders and feet positioned on two gliding discs.
B Maintaining a neutral spine, walk forward with hands dragging feet behind you for 15-20 yards. Avoid too much side-to-side hip movement by keep core fully engaged. For an added challenge, do move in reverse.
“This involves moving your hands to your side to propel your body sideways, creating total-body movement,” says Jonathan Ross, fitness expert and author of Abs Revealed. This move can also be done using a medicine ball, placing ball on floor instead of hands. (After you master this routine, don't miss our Animal Flow Workout.)
A Stand with feet wide, both hands flat on floor to the right of feet.
B Shift weight to hands and hop feet to right, landing with feet outside of hands. Reposition hands flat on floor to the right of feet and repeat the sequence. Do five reps traveling to the right before switching directions.
“This core exercise targets the obliques and requires strength, stability, and mobility of the shoulders, abs, hips and back,” says Tiffani Bachus, certified personal trainer and co-author of No Excuses! 50 Healthy Ways to ROCK Breakfast. “By increasing your speed, this bodyweight move becomes more explosive, making it a perfect addition to a high-intensity interval training circuit.” (Here are the Bodyweight Exercises You Should Be Doing.)
A Stand with hands under shoulders, knees under hips with toes tucked, knees lifted 3 inches off floor.
B Lift right foot, drawing right knee to chest. Simultaneously lift left hand while rotating body to left, sweeping right foot underneath body. Straighten right leg, keeping hips lifted, supporting yourself with right hand and left foot. Return to starting position and repeat on opposite side, lifting left foot and right hand.
“This is a fantastic core exercise that works the midsection,” says Mike Deibler, owner of San Diego Premier Training and director of education for Exercise Etc. Rather than isolating one abdominal muscle, the move includes arm and leg movements to also challenge hip flexors, lats, and quadriceps, among others.”
A Lie on back, arms and legs fully extended toward opposite ends of mat.
B Bring knees to chest, rolling shoulders up to get into the smallest “cocoon” positon possible. Reverse the movement, returning to starting position and repeat.
“If you’re ready to progress from the traditional push-up, this move is for you—it adds an explosive component requiring a strong core and the ability to integrate your lower body and upper body at the same time,” says Doug Balzarini, founder of DB Strength and head coach and program director for 22 Athletics in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. “It’s an advanced move, so wrist strength and core and shoulder stability are a must.”
A Get in the bottom of push-up position, hands in a closed fist under shoulders. (If this is too challenging for wrists, place palms on ground as you would for a regular push-up.)
B Explode upwards fast, using upper body (arms) and lower body (feet). Push hard enough so entire body leaves the ground several inches, like a traveling push-up. Return to starting position for another explosive half push-up, then repeat sequence.
“Crawling is one of our foundational movement patterns, important for developing timing and coordination between the hips, core, and shoulders,” says Pete McCall, fitness instructor and science officer at the Institute of Motion. “Incorporating a move like the bear crawl into your workout develops hip mobility while improving core and upper body strength.”
A In an area with plenty of open space, get on hands and knees, hands below shoulders and knees below hips. Rise up onto balls of feet, keeping hips at same level or slightly lower than shoulders. Bring right leg forward so right knee is in line with belly button.
B Move right hand and left foot forward approximately 6-10 inches. Repeat sequence, continuing to alternate sides without pausing as you move rhythmically across the floor for desired distance. Rest 30-45 seconds between sets before repeating.