The 12 hardest animal movements ever! These movements are for advanced trainees only.
The reason movement training and animal movements work so well for developing strength, mobility and many other physical attributes, is because you are using the body as a whole.
Movement training is dynamic, versatile and all-rounded when many other types of exercise are often isolative and one-dimensional (up and down).
There is nothing wrong with isolation exercises, because they are very useful for fixing weak links and targeting certain parts of the body that may need more attention.
It's the over-emphasis on isolation exercises that destroys the equilibrium and diminishes your ability to move and control your body as a whole.
We have noticed that the balance is created when you combine these two extremes together: 1. full body movements (like animal movements) and 2. targeted isolative mobility drills.
This way you are getting the best out of both worlds: you are actually becoming good at moving your body as a whole (coordination, spatial awareness, agility, balance), but you are also making sure no area of the body gets overlooked.
In many ways you need to be both the surgeon and the wild animal to reach your full potential in fitness. Moving the way as the nature meant us to move is amazing for the body, but human knowledge also has plenty of wisdom in it.
These movements are easily the hardest animal movements you can do. They were so hard on the body that we had to take multiple visits to the gym to get everything on film.
If you want to get started in movement training and also possess the arsenal of many strengthening and mobility exercises, see Movement 20XX program for more information (suitable for beginners and beyond).
Be safe! These exercises are for advanced trainees only and they shouldn't be attempted by beginners! Do not take risks beyond your level of fitness.
1. Leaping Lizard
Lizard crawl is probably the most versatile and effective movement to develop pressing strength and mobility throughout the body.
Working on the lizard crawl can produce great gains in core and hip mobility and obviously you will also be working hard on the shoulder strength and mobility.
The fluidity and dynamic nature of the movement where your body alignment is constantly changing and shifting is why the movement is such a superb exercise.
Leaping lizard is one of the many advanced variations of the lizard crawl where you are primarily focusing on explosive strength.
When you move forward, you can use your legs to push yourself forward which makes it a bit easier. Going backwards is a whole different beast and you need to rely a lot more on pure pressing strength of the upper body.
2. Chameleon Crawl
Chameleon crawl is another advanced variation of the lizard crawl. Here you are focusing more on unilateral strength and core stability.
You will develop the shoulders, triceps and chest thanks to the unilateral pressing, but your hips and core are also working incredibly hard to keep the body stable and from rotating (anti-rotation). This makes the chameleon also a great abs and obliques exercise.
Chameleon crawl is basically a moving one arm-one leg push up sequence. The one arm push up alone is hard, but the chameleon is on the next level.
Mastering the one arm push up and the basic lizard crawl (covered extensively in Movement 20XX) will help you to achieve the chameleon crawl which is probably the hardest crawl anyone can do.
3. Inchworm Jump
Inchworm jump is an explosive core and hip exercise and not many core exercises can surpass it in difficulty.
Inchworm requires a high level of explosive strength in the pressing muscles and legs, but you also need to pull your body hard together (hip flexion) which specifically trains the core muscles and hip flexors.
Mastering the basic inchworm (next exercise) will help tremendously because you need to develop high levels of core strength and mobility before trying out the inchworm jump.
Inchworm jump is basically a walking ab-rollout. You will develop insane core strength while also working on the shoulders.
You start from the best pike position you can take and then just walk with your hands until your body is in the superman position. This is the perfect form, but in the beginning it's possible to go just as far as you feel comfortable with.
It's important to keep the lower back flat - otherwise the tension moves from your abs to your lower back. The primary goal here is to train the abs.
5. Flea Jump
Flea jump or pike jump is the old school kung fu jump many wushu practitioners still do today.
Flea jump will develop pike mobility, but also explosive strength in the hamstrings, quads, calves and hip flexors. Your core is also developed because the midsection needs to crunch hard at the top.
The easier variation would be to look more down and focus on doing upright pike jumps where your feet are pointing down. Eventually you can start turning the jump into a more horizontal movement as you see here.
6. Frankenstein Walk
Frankenstein walk is a beast move for developing strength, stability and mobility in the hip flexors, quads and calves.
Frankenstein walk is basically a moving sissy squat in the split stance. The benefits are similar: your quads will work the hardest but you can also expect to feel tension in your calves, lower back and hip flexors.
Sissy squats and frankenstein walks are safe for your knees as long as you are strong enough to do them - like all exercises in this post, they are not for beginners!
7. Jumping Spider
Jumping spider is an explosive exercise for the chest muscles due to the wide hand placement. You are moving forward with short plyometric jumps generated by your chest, core and hip muscles.
Your hips will also be opened and stretched thanks to the wide and open hip position.
Jumping spider is an intense exercise, but not impossible to do.
Exorcist is simply the bridge walk. Bridge is amazing for opening up the body and developing strength in the posterior side of the body (thoracic spine, lumbar spine and glutes) while stretching the anterior side (chest, abs and hip flexors).
Obviously you should first master the basic bridge before you start walking around like the exorcist! The walking bridge is a A LOT harder than the static hold.
The static bridge is one of the 4 static skills of Movement 20XX and there are all necessary progressions and mobility drills to master it.
9. Frog Jump
Frog jump is the craziest kamikaze beast move out there. You are basically jumping on your face and hoping you have enough strength in your upper body to not face plant.
Frog jump will develop the same muscles as the handstand push up: shoulders, triceps and upper back. Your core also needs to work hard thanks to the flowy nature of the movement.
If you are already good at handstands, then frog jump could be an impressive and fun animal movement to play with.
10. Donkey Kick
Donkey kick is the opposite movement compared to the frog jump: when in the frog jump you are jumping forward to your hands (focusing more on the eccentric part), in the donkey kick you are pushing backwards while kicking with your legs.
The donkey kick requires lots of strength from your upper body because you need to push yourself backwards while you are generating force with your legs.
This makes the donkey kick great for developing concentric explosive strength in the vertical position.
11. Crustacean Crawl
Crustacean crawl is similar to the lizard crawl. Here your body is just aligned sideways.
The biggest difference is that the stimulus is very different due to the sideways body angle.
Your chest, triceps and shoulders will be worked differently. The mobility requirements for your hips are also changed.
Sparrow is an explosive pistol squat movement. The benefits are similar to the actual pistol squat: strength gains in the lower body muscles such as the hamstrings, glutes and quadriceps.
What makes the sparrow a little bit easier is the fact that you are first leaning on your back and then using the generated momentum to help you jump forward.
Despite the momentum aspect, sparrow is still an excellent way to develop explosive lower body strength.
That was intense but definitely gave me a plan for my next medley workout. Truly, you’re an inspiration!
Thank you Gabe!