"Animal" type exercises can increase strength, mobility, coordination, and body awareness.
They can also serve as a self-assessment tool to let you know where you may be tight, weak, or predisposed to injury. The downside? Your average gym-goer will feel kinda stupid crawling around while the "normal" people do things like lift weights.
But it's healthy to test your body in this way, whether you have access to a gym or not. It's time to get creative, have some fun, and maybe even get a bit weird. Here are some animal exercises you can add into your fitness regimen to mix things up.
Slow Frog Hops
These are incredibly difficult when done properly. The goal is to move through the "hop" as slowly as possible, keeping yourself suspended using your arms. To accomplish this, you must brace your core tightly and think of pressing yourself away from the floor while your elbows remain straight.
Ideally, you should try to get your feet as close to your palms as you can when hopping forward. Try to slow yourself down as much as possible right before your feet touch the floor.
The goal is to strengthen the anterior delts, triceps, and core using a continuous forward motion when hopping from your legs to your palms. If you feel yourself go into a handstand-type position, or falling forward, you're hopping too high.
With this one, less is more. Focus on quality hops with more "hang time" for strength rather than seeing how many you can do.
Strict Bear Crawl
Bear crawls are a dynamic way to challenge core stability. They also serve as a great shoulder burner. Make sure to keep your hips, back, and shoulders level so that your core stays engaged.
Ideally, your opposite hand and opposite foot should touch the ground at the same time. Keep your knees bent to roughly 90 degrees, and keep your wrists stacked under your shoulders so that you don't cheat the movement by getting overextended.
If you're having wrist problems, turn your palm so that your fingers point outward. This will reduce the amount of compression on your wrists.
Aim for about a minute of crawls and try to focus on the mind-muscle connection rather than trying to go as far as possible.
This is an excellent exercise to help shoulder mobility. The majority of us have overly tight pecs and anterior delts which greatly restricts our range of motion and predisposes us to a shoulder injury.
Crab walking will stretch your pecs and the anterior capsule of your shoulder allowing you to achieve greater range of motion during overhead activities. It also doubles as a great triceps burner and core workout.
Keep your hips lifted and core braced. Having your fingers pointed outward will make this less painful on the wrists.
These strengthen the shoulders and triceps while providing a great stretch on the abs and hip flexors.
Turn your palms so that your fingers face out to protect your wrists. Keep your arms straight as you drag your lower body across the floor. Squeeze your glutes to help protect your lower back.
5-Yard Animal Flow
Now put them all together:
Putting all four movements into a continuous sequence will torch your shoulders and core. Try doing five yards of frog hops, five yards of strict bear crawls, five yards of crab walks, and five yards of snake drags... for five rounds. Use it as a finisher for your next workout.