Don’t let the odd name deter you: Animal flow offers unique benefits you won’t get from traditional strength training. “It fundamentally brings you back to the basics,” says Nike Master Trainer Patrick Frost. “These are ground-based movements, where you create resistance by pushing and pulling your body around a fixed platform.” The trick to mastering this discipline is generating constant tension throughout your body. “There are some parts that require grace and some that require grit,” Frost says.
“You could do this same workout multiple times and have a completely different experience depending on how you attack it.” While mimicking the movement patterns of a crab or an ape can seem a little goofy, animal flow workouts will challenge your strength, endurance, balance, and mobility all at once. Over time, you’ll develop better proprioception and move with greater intention, which will make your workouts more efficient and effective, and leave you feeling like an apex predator.
Warm up, then perform 3 rounds of each exercise, following the prescribed work and rest periods. These moves require a lot of wrist extension and endurance to sustain proper form, so take a break as needed when starting out. Add this workout to your program 1-2 times a week and slowly build up to 3-4 times. You can also use some of these sequences as warmups or even finishers to your program.
Expert Tip: Tense Up
While these exercises should be fluid, create constant resistance by drilling palms into the ground and exaggerating movements, radiating tension through your limbs.
Dedicate 5 minutes to wrist mobilization: Get on all fours and flip your wrists around,
then lean or rock back and forth. After, work through these exercises for 40 seconds
each. They’ll prep your joints for the main animal flow. Perform 2 rounds.
Warmup 1. Alternating Crab Reach
Start in crab position, feet hip-distance apart, hips hovering 1 inch off ground, and arms behind back, fingers pointing away from body. Bend right arm to midline so hand is 6 to 8 inches from face (A).
Drive through heels and extend hips up into a three-point stance bridge (B).
Reach your arm up and over toward opposite hand, keeping a soft bend in elbow, eyes gazing at static hand (C). Lower, switching sides with each rep.
Warmup 2. Beast Wave Unload
Start in loaded beast position on all fours, pushing hips back toward heels as you reach arms forward (A).
Hike hips toward ceiling. Once knees are fully extended (B), tuck chin into chest and slowly roll your spine, emphasizing the curve in your back (C). When shoulders pass wrists, come into an upward-facing dog.
Open your chest, pull chin to ceiling, and squeeze glutes (D). Reverse the wave and repeat.
Warmup 3. Alternating Scorpion Reach
Start in loaded beast position (A).
Drive through balls of feet to bring left knee across body toward right wrist, keeping a slight bend in right knee (B).
Extend arms as you drive left leg back, bending the knee and opening your hip, pressing shin toward ceiling (C). Bring left knee across body again before returning to start position, then repeat on opposite side.
Workout 1: Deep Ape to Side Kick Through
Start in a deep squat, with feet hip-width apart or wider for comfort, feet slightly turned out, and arms between knees, keeping a flat back and proud chest (A).
Shift weight forward as you plant right hand to the ground (B) and kick right leg through, pointing toe and pulling left elbow back, palm facing away (C).
Return to deep ape position, then switch sides. Work 40 seconds on, 20 off.
Workout 2. Crab to Underswitch Taps
Start in crab position (A), then drive through your right toe and left hand to pivot your body (B) onto all fours.
As soon as your limbs tap the ground (C), immediately redirect your momentum to the starting position (D).
Switch sides on each rep. Work 30 seconds on, 15 off.
Workout 3. Traveling Beast
Start in beast position, with hands directly below shoulders, and knees stacked over hips, hovering 1 inch off the ground. Engage your core, keep your trunk level and low, then take a small step forward, moving right hand and left foot, resisting rotation through your hips (A).
On the next rep, move left hand and right foot, making sure they pick up and land simultaneously (B). Work 30 seconds on, 15 off.
Workout 4. Loaded Beast to Front Step Through
Start in loaded beast position (A), then explode through the balls of your feet (B) and jump forward with control.
Forcefully drive your left leg into full extension, toes pointed, as your right arm assumes a “guard” position at your midline, elbow bent with hand in front of face (C).
Reverse the motion to return to start, switching sides with each rep. Work 20 seconds on, 10 off.
Beast to left-leg underswitch to right-arm crab reach to jumping left-leg underswitch to right-leg side kick through to right-leg full scorpion to left-leg underswitch to beast. Repeat opposite side. Work 60 seconds on, 30 off. Repeat 3 times.
Original posting in Men’s Journal