How to Move Like a Monkey

October 11, 2015 by VAHVA Fitness

Monkey walks are a great way to increase the mobility in the lower body and the shoulder girdle. They are fun too! Monkey walks include: chimp walk, baboon walk, gorilla walk, jiu-jitsu monkey and a leaping monkey.


Different animal walks, such as the monkey walks covered in this post, have been utilized in martial arts for hundreds of years. 

In Chinese martial arts, monkey kung fu is a popular martial art. Also shaolin kung fu/wushu has numerous of monkey forms and exercises to improve the coordination, strength and mobility of the entire human body. 

In almost any martial arts or jiu-jitsu, the monkey walks are commonly utilized in the training. I have seen karate athletes, capoeiristas, taekwondo athletes and jiu-jitsu athletes perform animal walks, monkey walks included, as a part of their training session.

Monkey walks are commonly used for conditioning, and as a part of the warm-up routine. And they do work: monkey walks will warm up the entire body and prepare the wrists for more serious work.

How far you want to take animal walks depends on your motivations and movement capability.

Monkey walks become a truly strenuous exercise when you focus on the maximal control of the shoulders and controlled movement locomotion. 

Monkey walks can become a massively beneficial exercise to improve coordination, overall movement capability, mobility and spacial awareness. 

You can focus on control, flow and speed. All of these will grant very nice benefits in functional strength and movement skills. 

You can also alter the hands and wrists to alter the benefits of monkey walks. For example, you can do monkey walks on: 

  • Fingertips to increase finger strength. 
  • Wrists to increase wrist strength. 
  • Knuckles for knuckles conditioning. 
  • Palms, which is the most common way.

Finally, monkey walks are also super fun to do and extremely entertaining for others to see.

After you master the basics, monkey walks can be incorporated into your personal locomotion flow.

Below is our video illustrating the different monkey walks. You can also see how they are incorporated into a locomotion flow:

Chimp Walk Beginner

chimp walk beginner
chimp walk beginner 2

This is a side walking money and one of the easiest variations of the monkey walk you can perform. 

You use your arms to to help your legs hop sideways.

Chimp walk is a great way to warm up the wrists and move horizontally in an entertaining fashion.

Chimp Walk Advanced

chimp walk advanced
chimp walk advanced 2

The hardest version is just to lean towards your shoulders when you take the sideways step. The more shoulder control you have, the better this exercise will develop your shoulder girdle (also known as the scapula). 

Try to move your legs in the air with control and precision. In the beginning you will merely hop without any control, but eventually, you will be able to do controlled chimp walks. 

One of the keys here is to keep the core tight and engaged.

Mastering this will transfer well to controlled cartwheels.

Baboon Walk

chimp walk advanced
baboon walk

Baboon walk is one variation of the side walking chimp monkey. In the baboon walk you are horizontally moving slightly touching the floor with your hands. 

Because baboon walk is not as strenuous as the other money walks, this variation is recommended to do on knuckles, wrists or fingertips.

Baboon walk will improve the flexibility and mobility in your lower back, glutes and hamstrings. 

Jiu-Jitsu Monkey

jiu jitsu monkey walk 2
jiu jitsu monkey walk

Jiu-jitsu monkey is a great drill to improve the coordination and mobility in your lower body.

In this variation, you first move your legs to the side with very small steps. The movement will improve the mobility in your hips, core and legs.

Check our video for the form. 

Leaping Monkey

leaping monkey exercise 2
leaping monkey exercise

This is an advanced variation of the monkey walk.

Leaping monkey requires a great deal of strength in the shoulder girdle due to the fact that you are holding your bodyweight temporarily up using only one arm.

The benefits of this variation are numerous: improved coordination and strength in the shoulders and wrists.

Gorilla Walk

gorilla walk animal walk exercise 2
gorilla walk animal walk exercise

Pay special attention to how the shoulders move in this exercise. This is a very novel exercise where the shoulders are at some point pushed forward (protaction) and at some point pulled back (retraction).

Gorilla walk is a fun and entertaining way to improve the flexibility and strength in the shoulders.

Moreover, try to keep the legs as straight as possible and gorilla walks will improve the flexibility in your posterior chain tremendously. Posterior chain includes the lower back, glutes and hamstrings.

Monkey Walk Programming and Movement Locomotion Flow

Different monkey walks are great to include together with the other locomotion and movement drills, such as the lizard walk.

We will cover the other animal walks and locomotion drills in the near future.

You can read our how to move like a lizard - post below: 

How much you like to do these drills depends on your personal taste. If you are only looking for a fun way to warm-up, that's great too.

If you want to really practice these skills and create an awesome locomotion flow, then you can spend hours practicing these drills.

Train hard, stay safe.

samuli jyrkinen

About the author 

Samuli Jyrkinen

Samuli is the ninja behind the scenes (photography, videography, websites, program platforms and more). He has been training religiously for over a decade and has a firm grasp of physical and mental fitness. You will find our story here.

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