10 animal movements that target the legs, hips and the lower body! These are better for functional strength and athletic ability than many traditional exercises.
Animal movements are one of the most underrated and unappreciated forms of exercise today.
They are simply too dynamic and multi-faceted for a lot of people with limited minds to appreciate. People like to define movement and keep it in very simple parameters. That's why simple up-and-down exercises are the most popular.
Yet, in wrestling and martial arts, animal movements have been utilized for a very long time and for phenomenal results.
What we've done with animal movements is that we've turned this form of exercise into a real form of strength training (Animal Movement Strength Training) - into a real method.
We've also heavily innovated countless animal movements and documented them in Movement 20XX Method, on this website and on our YouTube channel.
If you look at many animal movement videos on YouTube from other channels, they have just copied Eero Westerberg's original work (often they even use the exact names we came up with...).
The better me and Eero get athletically, the more important these animal movements become in terms of building the lower body. And surprisingly, the less we need to or want to do any traditional exercises such as the back squats.
The results these exercise produce are simply outstanding. And you don't realize this until you actually try these movements. They are tough beyond comparison and way harder than they look.
The easiest exercise in this list called the "bigfoot walk" looks simple... yet it will make your quadriceps burn beyond belief.
The hardest? They are for the elite and advanced only.
Let's take a closer look at each movement.
1. Bigfoot Walk
Bigfoot walk is a movement where you are keeping constant tension in your quadriceps and also in hamstrings and glutes.
You are not even walking close to parallel, rather your legs are in a 45 degree angle. Amateurs would say you are not using enough range of motion. You are shifting weight from one leg to another... in many aspects you are training the legs unilaterally.
The slower and more controlled you can do this movement, the better it will burn in your legs. Do it for long periods of time and feel a nice burn in the legs. Now you know this exercise is working!
2. Bunny Hops
Bunny hops is a plyometric exercise that will primarily target the posterior chain and quadriceps. Even the inner thighs will work in this exercise if you use a wider stance where the feet are pointing slightly outwards.
When it comes to overall strength, power and even mobility, this exercise is just superb. You would be surprised how well this exercise opens up the hips.
Just a word of caution: if your legs and hips are super stiff, limit the range of motion at first and make sure you warm up the hips and legs well beforehand.
3. Goose Walk
Goose walk is a movement where you focus on moving at the bottom range of the squat. It has some similarities to bigfoot walk obviously but how it develops the legs is completely different.
Goose walk is a version of the more commonly known Duck Walk. The specialty of the goose walk is that the arms are kept maximally extended overhead. This promotes good posture and shoulder mobility.
You will develop strength in your quadriceps no doubt - and a lot of it. However, due to the stretch your legs have to go through, this exercise will also develop mobility very well. Interestingly, this animal walk develops the ankles and shin are as well
In wrestling this is very popular because it helps a lot with takedowns when you have to dive under your opponent.
4-5. Small and Big Flea Hop
Flea hop is an explosive movement that combines parts of the posterior chain and the entire anterior chain to launch your body into a pike position in air.
Small flea utilizes primarily quadriceps but develops compression and flexibility already very nicely.
The big flea hop engages all of your lower body and especially the abdominals and hip flexors which have to pull your legs up and fold your body with great force
Start with the small flea hop and eventually work your way towards the big one.
6. Crane Walk
Have you seen The Karate Kid?
You would be surprised how how effective this movement is in real life martial arts scenarios. Did you know that Lyoto Machida (MMA fighter and Karateka) knocked out the former UFC champion and MMA legend Randy Couture with the crane kick?
This movement will develop the legs unilaterally. One leg is performing the jump while another leg performs the kick.
The kick is mainly done with your hip flexors while the entire lower body works to perform the jump. It's an effective exercise.
7. Cossack Walk
Cossack squat will challenge the mobility of your lower body but also the strength. You are stabilizing on one leg while the other leg is stretched.
You will work the quadriceps and inner thighs mostly. If you want to take your lower body mobility and strength to the next level and have already mastered bigfoot walk and goose walk, then this is the best progression.
Just never forget the basics. We still work on the bigfoot walk and bunny hops to this day.
8-10. Sparrow, Pigeon Walk, Pigeon Switch
These are the movements that require the hardest contraction from your quadriceps.
This is because your front thighs have to raise your body up from a position where the knee is fully bent - on a single leg. Goose walk has equal knee bending but you never have to squat up from the position.
In these movements you’re jumping from the position!
Launching in air from the bottom position of a single leg squat is no joke for the glutes either.
The sparrow is the easiest variation because you are using the momentum of your body to move you forward. For strength, mobility and power it's good.
In the pigeon walk you are stretching the front leg while jumping on the rear leg. This requires an advanced and even elite level of strength and mobility.
The pigeon switch is a variation where you switch the leg with every jump. This requires even more strength and coordination.