Let Animal Movement Inspire Your Next Workout

Let Animal Movement Inspire Your Next Workout


Lately, my workouts have looked a bit odd: I’ve been slithering like a lizard, crawling like a bear and scuttling like a crab. It’s called quadrupedal movement training (or animal movement), and it’s taken over TikTok (the related hashtag, #primalmovement, has 2.4 billion views).

At first glance, the workouts seem a little goofy — more like an audition for Gollum in “Lord of the Rings” than a workout. But are they effective?

Proponents say the exercise targets muscles often neglected by other workouts, and that moving your arms and legs diagonally across the body (rather than, say, running, where they just move in line forward and back) is important for building resilient joints and body awareness.

To put animal movement to the test, I gathered some common exercises and tried them four times a week, for a month. Here’s what I learned.

There is a lot of overlap between animal movement and more established practices like yoga, Pilates and dance, which aim to improve balance and core strength, as well as increase joint mobility and stability, said Dr. Sachin Allahabadi, an orthopedic surgeon in Houston, who sometimes warms up with “bear crawls” before HIIT sessions.

But research specific to animal movement is still limited. One small study found it burns about the same number of calories as a similar duration of other moderate aerobic exercise, like a game of doubles tennis. Another suggests that it improves coordination and hip and shoulder flexibility, which is especially important as we age.

Initially, I found that the workouts were awkward and demanded intense focus: What was my right hand doing, and where was my left foot? But after a few weeks, they began to feel familiar, almost like dancing. It also made me move in ways that I rarely had, even in a yoga class, challenging my shoulders and arms. And while a 30-minute session doesn’t pack the punch of a 10K run, I was definitely panting as if I had hiked a series of hills.

But it’s not a panacea: It can get repetitive, and to retain (or build) muscle mass, you need to add resistance training. Also, it’s hard to do while watching Netflix.

Going forward, I’ll use animal movement to break up long stretches at my desk, the way Jeffrey Buxton, an exercise scientist at Grove City College, does. Or I’ll sprinkle it into circuit-training workouts — a round of crab walks to replace jumping jacks, for example. “It’s an accessible exercise and checks a lot of boxes,” Dr. Buxton said.


Source link

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top