If you’ve ever watched an animal in the wild – or even just on Netflix – you’ll see how fascinating their movements are. Graceful, natural, instinctive. You’ll never see a tiger groan about his aching back when he stands up, or a deer with ‘text neck’: a modern ailment caused by looking down at our smartphones all day.
Our friends in the animal kingdom move fluidly, exactly the way they were designed to. Humans have the unique ability to replicate these movements, connecting mind to muscle with playful physical training.
What are animal-inspired exercises?
Animal athletics reverse the clock and take us back to childhood. By working out on the ground, the body will relive the period when our nervous, muscular and skeletal systems were developing and we learned our first fundamental movements. These patterns are the same as many animal moves, such as crawling like a crab, sliding like a crocodile, or clinging to our mothers like monkeys.
Workout: Animal-inspired exercises
Benefits: Crawling on the ground without using your knees is in pretty much every animal-inspired exercise routine. That’s because it forces your body to develop better locomotion, orientation, flexibility, coordination and fluidity. Get it all by doing this regularly:
- Crouch down and place your hands in front of you, shoulder-width apart and eyes forward.
- With your feet behind and hips raised, crawl forward with your right hand and left foot, followed by your left hand and right foot.
- Space depending, bear crawl for five steps.
- Turn around and bear crawl back.
Benefits: It’s another total-body exercise, but the crab walk particularly works wonders on your glutes. Here’s how to do them:
- Begin sitting on the ground with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place your palms on the ground slightly behind your hips.
- Raise your glutes around two inches from the ground. This is your starting position.
- Move your right hand forward a few inches and straighten your left leg in front of you at the same time.
- Tap your heel to the ground for a second and immediately return to starting position.
- Repeat on the other side, with your left hand and right leg.
Benefits: Targeting your glutes, hips and abdominals, the donkey kick is not only a wonderfully toning animal-inspired exercise – it’s brilliant fun, too.
- Begin on all fours with your hands on the floor, shoulder-width apart, and your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Kick your left leg back and upwards, as high as you can without straining.
- Bring your left leg to the floor and repeat the action with your right leg.
- Alternate on both sides for three sets of 12 reps.
Benefits: This animal-inspired exercise is a great stability builder and helps strengthen your core, glutes, chest and deltoids. You’ll get an excellent hamstring stretch to increase flexibility too. Don’t worry, it isn’t a functional fitness version of ‘The Worm’ breakdancing move we all know and love. Here’s the much less cringe-inducing version…
- Begin standing, then bend down and move your hands to the ground. Your hips should be raised so your body is in an upside-down ‘V’ shape.
- Walk your hands forward slowly and with control, until you reach a plank position.
- Immediately walk your hands back to your feet until you’re back at your starting position.