What are the benefits of doing animal movements and why should everyone do them? Animal movements will surprise you!
Animal Movement Strength Training (AMST) is an untapped area for many athletes, martial artists and enthusiasts in health & fitness.
The origins of this form of training is in martial arts and wrestling. In the East, Shaolin monks have practiced animal forms and animal movements for centuries. In the West, animal movement has long traditions in wrestling schools.
Nowadays, animal movement training is mostly used as a way to warm up the body in many BJJ, MMA and wrestling classes. In sports like American football, animal movements are also utilized as conditioning exercises.
This is all good but the benefits and versatility of animal movement strength training goes well beyond this. The basic forms work phenomenally well to warm up the entire body and central nervous system but this is really on the beginning.
The best part is that animal movement strength training is an untapped area for most people. Once you start doing it, you will notice massive boost and benefits because you simply have never done this type of training before.
1. Expand Your Functionality & Performance
Your body is capable of much more than what the regular gym workouts have to offer. Many martial arts, sports, dances and life in general demand lots of variety from your body depending on the sport of course.
When you focus only on one dimensional movements, your body will reflect this fact - you will not be fully prepared to handle the demands many sports and martial arts require.
There's nothing wrong with regular exercises but to develop the body and nervous system to its full capacity, more demanding and versatile movements need to be practiced.
Animal movement strength training does something amazing to your functionality and performance because your body will be deeply challenged and you will work your muscles in angles and muscle lengths they have never been worked before.
2. Mobility & Movement Quality
During animal movements you're going to move your joints in all sorts of 3D patterns which is fantastic for mobility and lubricating the joints.
Your muscles can be elongated or shortened and in most cases their very active in these positions meaning you build up a reservoir of functional joint range of motion.
For example, with the lizard crawl your core is constantly rotating and twisting in very fine movements. The lizard crawl actually trains the spine phenomenally well.
Your hips are also getting mobilized while your shoulders are supporting (and also rotating) yourself with every step. The lizard crawl alone is a full body movement that has the ability to develop an enormous amount of functional strength, mobility and movement quality.
There are different animal movements for different purposes.
Lizard crawl: Challenge your shoulder, bent arm strength and hip rotation.
Bear walk: challenge your core, straight arm strength, shoulder support and posterior chain flexibility.
Just to name 2 examples.
3. Support in Multiple Planes
Both animal movements and yoga are phenomenal for developing a type of strength that we call "supportive strength".
What is supportive strength? It's your body's ability to support its bodyweight in all the different positions and angles.
This is an area a lot of people have very poor strength in. They pretty much have only developed supportive strength in their shoulders and scapula (shoulder girdle) using planks and push ups but that's pretty much it.
More versatile enthusiasts also have developed supportive strength in the overhead positions by practicing lots of handstands. This is still not enough - your body needs to support itself in all the different planes and angles to develop fully as a unit.
By holding different body positions and frames for long periods of time, your joints learn to support and stabilize yourself in these different positions. In Movement 20XX Method we cover a wide variety of animal movements that cover these positions and angles.
Yoga is excellent for this but the animal movements are even better because the movements are dynamic and more functional.
4. Coordination, Limberness & Agility
Movement is more than the sum of it parts. Meaning that movement is more than just having flexibility, mobility or stability. There's an entire system of elastic connective tissue, fascia, tendons and ligaments that work together to produce limber, fluid and efficient movement.
Movements will teach your body and your nervous system to coordinate in congruence and utilize this natural biomechanical system that we possess.
The more you move, the more coordinated you will become. Not only that, you will also get more limber and agile.
There is no shortcut for this - you either need to play plenty of versatile sports and physical activities or you need to start moving the body in order to maintain and develop your coordination and limberness.
The less you move the body, the stiffer and less coordinated you will become. The thing is that in order to stay healthy and keep everything in the body running smoothly from the blood flow to the digestive track, the body cannot get stiff.
If you don't care about movement and being coordinated, you should at least maintain a good level of limberness for the sake of your health.
5. Strength in Every Angle
Supportive strength is connected to this but by training and moving the body in many different positions and angles, you will develop the ability to produce force from every angle.
In martial arts, maintaining your frame and equilibrium is incredibly important. The same is in sports. For the maximal force production, you want to have the optimal position.
But we all know what happens when we start sparring or play sports - what is optimal is not always realistic. Sometimes you need to throw a punch or catch a ball when you are not in the perfect alignment.
This is where the animal movement strength training comes in. Strength in every angle, in every position.
6. Explore Complex Movement Patterns & Express Your Spirit
Through movement I realized the freedom I have over this physical body and it has allowed many people to explore the possibilities of human movement because the concept of movement doesn't have the same limiting connotations as regular gym training.
This will ultimately free up your mind and your body and result in physical growth beyond what you could ever anticipate.
We grow old when we stop exploring and stop learning. You are capable of much more than you think regardless of your age or background. You haven't even scratched your potential when it comes to your ability to express your body.
Socrates said: “No man has the right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training. It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.”
You may not have much confidence in your body and yourself right now but everyone starts from somewhere. I started from below the average and Eero was not born a superman either.
How to start? It starts with the basics such as Animal Movement Strength Training. In Movement 20XX Method we truly explore the vast world of movement through many different ways of training and moving the body.
7. Restore & Rejuvenate Your Body
Our brains and bodies were developed through movements that are similar to the animal movements. As babies, we walked on all fours and crawled until we learned to walk, run and sprint.
Especially when we get older, it becomes more important to maintain the efficiency of our nervous system and the strength and mobility of our muscles.
For many, animal movement training can be a newly found fountain of youth that will finally loosen up the body and revitalize it from the inside out.
Animal movement training is ultimately a holistic form of exercise although different variations can be practiced to target different parts of the body. This makes it great for injury prevention and even getting rid of pains and aches in the body.
If your body feels worn out try movement training and see how your body transforms back to its soft, limber and flexible state and feel a child like joy of simply moving.
Do you want to learn more? For the epitome of movement training, see Movement 20XX Method. We cover all the different methods of Animal Movement Strength Training such as TIME Method, Variability Method and more.
For our FREE training resources, see this link.