It’s time to start moving in line with our nature and to focus on movement as the ultimate way to strengthen our bodies.
Now, if you’re subscribed to our insider email newsletter featuring (often unpublished) tips and tricks, you will already know that I’m working on my SGX certification. More importantly, you will have heard of me practicing ‘animal moves’.
What Are Animal Moves?
Animal moves are considered the foundational exercises for functional movement. They help build truly durable bodies. In fact, the Spartan SGX coaches swear by these moves as go-to exercises for both beginners and advanced athletes.
Is a functional session already part of your workout routine? If not, you might like to enhance your workout with this functional exercise that’s heavily recommended by OCR’s elite coaches.
In Spartan Group Training, animal moves are taken as ABC’s. They’re easy to remember and follow through, and they consist of: A for Ape, B for Beast (bear crawl), C for Crab walk. Animal flows are popular in communities that emphasise mobility all across the fitness industry so you can find apps with more variations. For now however, let’s stick to the main ABC.
The Benefits for You
In the past few weeks I’ve been focussing on these moves in order to reboot and rebuild the foundational strength for the next racing season. What my clients and I notice, is how deceptively easy these moves seem yet they can be very challenging. Whether you’re an amateur who is only just getting into OCR or you’re an advanced elite athlete: You will require mobility and function through immense core strength to master these moves.
Put simply, adding these functional exercises to your workout will help you build that bulletproof body you want when you’re faced with obstacles, carrying extra weight and running. You could of course get similar outcomes from various other exercise combinations, such as planks, TRX and various bodyweight movements. Frankly speaking however, these won’t offer as much of a foundation to overcome plateaus and hit multiple safety checkpoints at once.
Welcome to the Jungle, Baby
Note: Even if the following moves seem simple and easy to begin with, be sure to focus on your form first. This is crucial to eliminate any shortcomings which might hinder your progress.
My personal favourite when it comes to getting primal with nature. Here’s how it goes:
- Squat down and let your arms hang in front of you. Your hands should touch the ground.
- Next, put your hands out to the side as far as you can reach.
- Then shift your bodyweight centre towards your hands.
- Allow the rest of the body to laterally move sideways.
- Repeat for a defined amount of meters and then come back to the place you started from.
Interesting fact: Humans and Apes share 99% similarity at the gene level. Make the best of it.
Become a Beast (the bear crawl)
Bear crawls can be particularly unpleasant especially if you have to do them for an extended amount of time, or if you have to go backwards (try this out for a bigger challenge).
- Begin by finding your neutral spine position. To do this, you should stand in the assisted plank position (on your knees). Neutral spine position means allowing a slight natural curve to your spine to occur, without lifting your shoulder up, and without adding any weight on your neck.
The easiest way to find this position is to do the cat and cow yoga positions. These are the extremes of spinal bending, and the neutral spine should be just in the middle of two:
- Next, lift your knees up slightly, while maintaining a balanced, tensed core and a neutral spine.
- Start by moving arm by arm, leg by leg without overly extending your knees outwards.
- Maintain the neutral spine throughout the movement.
Get Crabby With It (the crab walk)
The last movement, which for some (including myself) will be the most challenging. This one requires a tree trunk strong core at all times.
- To begin, lay down on the floor and find your neutral spine as described above.
- Then extend your arms and legs under you forming a bridge. Your legs should be bent at 90 degrees in relation to your body. This will extend your core and hip flexors fully. It will challenge your core strength throughout the movement, so be prepared to engage and maintain good form.
- Start by moving one arm and leg at at a time as pictured above.
Here you go, these are the 3 ABCs – simple SGX/animal movement exercises to add to your functional training routines. You can make them more challenging by adding additional weight, using resistance bands or by doing it for longer distances or extended number of reps. Personally I like to do 100 yards of bear crawls followed by 100 yards of backward bear crawls. This can be applied for crab walks and ape skips too.