Animal flow is all about mimicking the movement of animals to help you improve strength, flexibility and body awareness as well as build muscle and burn off unwanted calories in a fun, playful way.
No one person can really claim that they “invented” this style of training however one person is bringing a lot of spotlight on this type of movement, Mike Fitch. He has created an entire training program called “Animal Flow” that chains together single, animal like movements into an entire sequence.
Though this post is meant to be an introduction to this type of training its always good to see what hard work and practice can lead to….
Now if you watched that and thought “hmm, he looks to be summoning some kind of… primal tiger god” you’re not alone.
Though it looks very advanced that whole sequence is basically made up of smaller movements “flowing” from one to the next. By learning these movements you can then chain together your own flow and begin summoning your spirit animal of choice.
Below are the 3 fundamental exercises that this entire system builds upon. Even if you have no desire to move beyond these three movements, these can on their own, help to improve your strength, coordination and balance.
The ABC’s of Animal Flow
A – Ape
The first movement in the series is one that looks to emulate our closest relative, the ape. By moving like one, we can gain some of the benefits we lost by becoming our new and improved bipedal selves.
Using all four limbs to move around you can improve strength in your upper body (arms, shoulders, wrists) and lower body as well (hamstrings, ankles, quads) all while increasing flexibility in the hips.
- You begin in a kind of squat position but leaning forward with your hands on the ground.
- Movement in this position is done side to side, hands first then feet following shortly behind.
Follow the link below to see the movement in action along with some progressions if you want something more challenging.
B – Beast
The second movement may come across as the simplest of the three but it’s these basics that will give you more body awareness and control.
For this one;
- Go down onto all fours, knees on the ground, hands on the ground.
- From here you will simply move forward, with opposite limbs. Right arm forward, left leg forward at the same time, then switch. Keep your knees off of the floor when traveling.
- After moving forward for a couple “steps” reverse direction and move backward.
C – Crab
This is one of those movements you no doubt did back in grade school. This simple excersise has a whole range of benefits. From working your arms, shoulders, hamstrings and core.
- Simply get into a sitting position, palms and feet flat on the ground.
- Now raise yourself up and begin walking with opposite limbs – right leg, left arm..switch.
- Then, after going forward for a couple steps, reverse and go backwards.
Putting It All Together
A great way to begin training these movements is to use them as a warm-up before your main workout. I’ll usually set the clock for 5 minutes and begin moving between the 3 listed above. This helps to get the blood flowing, get a little sweat going and is a fun way to get the whole body warmed up.
Though they look easy and you may have done them as a kid, please, go slow. You’re smaller joints such as your wrists or elbows may not be used to this type of loading. It’s always good to be a little conservative with new movements, let your body tell you the next day how things feel. If everything is good, add some more time, more complexity and have some fun.
There are a ton of resources out on animal based movements from simple videos like the ones posted above to full on workout programs designed to introduce and progress you to more high level movements. Youtube is one of the best resources as there are tons of videos showcasing the different animal movements and the method of transitioning between them. If, however your looking for a little more structure, or as a workout on their own, then there are two training programs which you may want to check out;
Have you tried any of these movements out, or do you have different ones you currently practice? Let us know in the comments below!