Animal movement exercise challenge with 6 different exercises. Can you complete it? If you do... how do you feel?
Animal movement training has deep roots that go back centuries and even millennia in China, India and elsewhere.
In the last decade, animal movement training has become increasingly popular and now its on the verge of becoming mainstream.
We recently visited Brno, Czech Republic and trained with the UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jiri Prochazka. Over there, Eero was delighted to teach animal movement training to him.
He is not the only one - nowadays a lot of professional athletes, coaches and trainers utilize animal movements and movement training not to mention the movement and fitness enthusiasts.
The best part is that you will require no equipment and you can practice the movements almost anywhere as long as you have access to a floor...
Yet, a lot of people still don't understand or haven't felt the effectiveness of animal movements. It has to do with two things: either the lack of experimentation or the lack of proper methodology.
If you practice any animal movement (apart from the low lizard crawl) just for a couple of steps, it won't do much for you. You need to apply certain principles and methods to make this type of training effective.
In this new CHALLENGE, we are doing animal movements for a long duration of time.
Time is one of the ways you make the animal movements effective. This is because in all types of training time under tension (TUT) is the key to producing results.
The Grizzly Bear Challenge
3 minutes in total - 30 seconds each (no rest between the movements):
All bear walk variations are great for developing the upper body, mainly the shoulders. You will also be developing the core to a high degree and stretching out the entire posterior chain (hamstrings, lower back, glutes and calves).
Your legs also need to work and you can expect the bear walk to feel in your hip flexors (a poorly developed part for most people) and quadriceps.
In addition to this, the different bear walk variations will further emphasize different areas.
1. Grizzly Bear
Grizzly Bear is a wide bear walk variation. The wider you go, the further away the hand and foot will be from each other with each step. This longer distance between the ground points significantly increases the forces acting on the core.
Just imagine a regular plank and compare it to a plank where you'd lift the hips up reducing the distance. Which one is harder?
There's also a lot of twisting and rotational forces because with every step the arm and leg are in an uneven position. You'll have an intense core activation throughout the abs and obliques. You may also notice the wider hand position emphasizes the anterior shoulder in this movement.
2. Natural Bear Walk
Natural Bear is the traditional bear walk where your arms and legs are more or less kept in shoulder-width positions. In essence, it should be the variation that feels the most natural and comfortable for yourself.
Because of this you can also focus on speed and quickness with this variation and gain great nimble agility moving on all fours. Otherwise, you'll enjoy all the general benefits of bear walks which are listed in the video.
3. Ipsilateral bear
The Ipsilateral Bear walk moves the same side arm and leg with every step. All other variations, except for galloping bear, here are contralateral movements with opposite sides moving together.
This same side movement will have you moving forward in a side-to-side rocking motion. I find the entire core section to be much stiffer in this variation which is great for more rigid core stability. In the traditional bear for instance, the core articulates a lot with the movement of the limbs emphasizing more the mobility aspect.
Ipsilateral Bear is all about subtle weight transference which in turn transfers your body forward.
4. Stiff Bear Walk
In the Stiff Bear Walk, you will take steps with your arms and legs as straight and as stiff as possible. This will greatly stretch the posterior chain, especially the hamstrings. You will need to adjust how close you bring the leg and arm with each step based on your current flexibility.
However, you should try to get your leg very close to the same side arm with each step. Squeeze and compress your abdominals, bend your core sideways and contract your quadriceps hard to achieve this.
This is fantastic active tension mobility where the contraction of the anterior side can cause a more effective stretch on the opposite side.
5. Lateral Bear Walk
The Lateral Bear Walk is a variation where you move your body sideways. It shares many of the benefits with the traditional bear walk but with this one, you can focus more on the fluidity of the movement.
In the Movement 20XX Expansion I teach a Lateral Bear called the Drunken Bear where you move sideways in a wave-like flowing pattern. It's an intriguing way of learning to produce almost liquid movement with the entire body.
Of course, you can take very straightforward steps sideways and even this should challenge your coordination.
6. Galloping Bear Walk
In the Galloping Bear, you will move forward with little galloping jumps. Now, with every step both arms will move at the same time and the legs will follow together as well.
Jumping and plyometrics in general increase the intensity because by moving fast or explosively you're exerting more force in a given time frame. This will challenge your muscles and breathing bringing additional gains and power.
One great benefit of dynamic jumping animal movements is that you will improve your force absorption. With every landing, you have to use the elastic tension of your body to soften the impact.
Especially in the backward gallop, when you're landing on your arms, your wrists, triceps and shoulders and even scapulae will engage intensely. You'll develop great pliable support with this type of drill when you do it properly.
Looking forward to learning more and taking your body to the next level? See Movement20XX.com for the complete training guide (6 months of workouts + Movement 20XX Expansion + Movement MasterClass!).