Wild Gains: Animal Kingdom Calisthenics

Written By: Todd Kuslikis
April 15, 2016

Apparently, animals are all the rage in Tinsel Town these days. It’s a bona fide invasion, whether they’re animals in a jungle, animals in their own town, animals getting kidnapped or animals moving to Hollywood.

Everyone’s catching the fever — even us! We recently showed you some of the fittest critters we could find showcasing their calisthenics abilities. So what if we grabbed a page out of these animals’ book and took a walk on the wild side?

That’s what we’ve got for you today: a virtual zoo, where we’ll be dropping by different animals’ exhibits and putting together a solid exercise that is sure to unleash the beast in you.

And speaking of which, if you’re really interested in bringing out your inner beast, you need to check out our 30-day Beastmode Workout Plan. This program is perfect for building solid, lean muscle, without having to pick up one dumbbell or paying one dollar for a gym membership.

 

Scorpion Push-Up

Well, let’s just get the scary ones out of the way. Scorpions are the disingenuous “Oh really?” people offer up when someone says insects are cute. Many scorpions are venomous and all of them are unpleasant looking. But the scorpion push-up can have you looking shredded, as it’s a great exercise for your core and upper body. It’s also really tough.

Begin in normal push-up position, making sure you’re keeping a tight base. The goal here is to have your legs act as the scorpion’s tail. With your feet together in the push-up position, bring your left leg forward and try to have your toe get as close as you can to your right pinky finger. So you’re reaching across your body to the opposite side. Do this while completing a push-up, and make sure to pull your lats and shoulders down toward your waist as you do so.

Tough, right? Well, that’s half of it.

In the next part, you are going to bring your leg over your body to the opposite side. Remember, don’t twist your body, stay sturdy, and keep your weight forward on your hands.

 

Flying Squirrel Push Ups

In recent years, people that want to emulate a flying squirrel have taken to jumping off cliffs. We found an option a little less inherently dangerous. But that’s not to say they’re easy.

Begin by completing a standard push-up. Then, lower yourself for another push-up, but when you push back up, explode into a full body, 180-degree spin, returning to a push-up position and going right into another rep.

 

Bear Crawl

As we eluded in the introduction, a live action version of The Jungle Book is out in theaters, and Bill Murray is voicing one of the most beloved characters in talking animal history, Baloo the bear. If you’d like to be a little like Baloo too, check out the bear crawl exercise. Since there’s no equipment required, you’ve already got the bear necessities (couldn’t resist).

This exercise will challenge your coordination, cardio and muscle endurance, as well as how well you can avoid running into things while walking on all fours. The important things to remember here are to reach forward with one arm while stepping forward with the opposite leg.

You can move forward or backwards, just be careful not to pause and keep your hips down.

 

Lizard Crawl

Our next stop at the Bodyweight Zoo brings us to the Reptile House. Our pal Ido Portal taught Conor McGregor the lizard crawl, and McGregor has credited a lot of his success to this exact kind of training by Portal.

Would you like to channel your inner amphibian as well? Then hit the deck for this awesome bodyweight exercise that will emphasize balance, muscle control and stamina.

Start by taking a big lunch forward with one leg, then place your hands forward in an angle that will have your hands and the lunged foot in a straight line. Rotate your hip from the leg outward to be able to get even lower. Then, step forward with the other leg, bring your hand forward and rotate your hips the other way. Now you’re moving!

 

Crab Crawl

Who’d have thought a childhood activity a lot of us did on the playground could be so beneficial? And no, we’re not talking about cootie shots, though they surely saved us all from a cootie epidemic. We’re talking about the crab crawl!

Surely at some point in your childhood you did this. Turns out it can be a great exercise for your core and stamina. Make sure to keep your hips off the ground and your chest up. You can move in any direction you want, and if you can find a workout partner to race, even better!

 

Crocodile Push Ups

Our scaly, 200-million year old friends are the inspiration for our next animal workout.

Otherwise known as the push-up crawl, crocodile push-ups are a great way to get a great workout while imitating a predator dating back to the Triassic Period. It’s basically a hybrid of the lizard crawl and a standard push-up, whereby each progression forward results in a push-up, then repeating.

You can do this for either a certain time or distance, just make sure you keep the correct form — much easier said than done toward the end of your set.

 

Frog Stand

Here we come to the frog exhibit, where we’ll be performing a frog stand. Pick your favorite lilypad and get ready for a workout that will improve your balance and complete body strength.

A frog stand can be a great progression to a full handstand. You begin in a squatted position with your palms flat on the ground, about shoulder-width apart. Lean forward with your body so that your knees are resting on your elbow, thus placing the bulk of your bodyweight on your arms. Pick your feet up off the ground and try to balance completely on your hands for as long as you can.

 

Dragon Fly

This next workout is an absolute killer core workout. Now, we’re not sure why they’re named after the dragon fly, since they don’t really have a core to speak of, but to be fair, flying squirrel’s aren’t known to do push-ups, either.

To perform this exercise, you need something sturdy on the ground you can grab onto (a pole, a beam, or a friend’s legs). Lay on the ground and grab your support, which should be just past your head. While keeping your body completely straight, bring your legs up until they are over your shoulders. Then, in a controlled motion, allow your legs to lower while still keeping your back and legs straight.

Go as low as you can, then bring your legs back up over your shoulders and repeat.

This is a very difficult workout, so if you need to work up to it, you can do standard leg raises. But the full extension of the dragon fly will have your abs aching in no time.

(Fun Fact: Did you know the earliest forms of dragonflies had wingspans up to thirty inches? Let’s all be glad that’s not a thing anymore!)

 

Monkey Walk

Our second-to-last stop at the Bodyweight Zoo is the Primate Pen, where we’ll be learning to walk like our banana-loving friends.

This is a fun exercise that has a number of different variations. We’ll stick with the simplest one, where you’ll be moving your body laterally while in a squat position. Use your hands to balance yourself.

 

Horse Stance

The last animal we’ll be visiting is the horse, and finishing up our workout with a nice easy horse stance. Based on what we know about horses standing, this one can’t be very tough at all, right?

C’mon, you didn’t think we’d let you off that easy, did you?

The horse stance, named so for who knows why, is a test of strength, endurance, and mental toughness. Stand with your feet wide apart, past shoulder-width. Squat down while keeping your core tight, and your chest and back straight. Squat until your legs are at 90-degree angles.

Next, take your two small rocks (you did bring the rocks, right?) and place them on your thighs. Place your two hands together in front of you and hold for as long as you can.

Why the rocks, you ask? After all, it is pretty unusual to use equipment like that in calisthenics. They’re simply there so you make sure you’re squatting low enough in your horse stance. If you don’t have rocks handy, you can use small books, pens, or anything that will fall if you’re not low enough.

We hope you enjoyed tapping into your animal instincts for a bit. These are all fantastic bodyweight exercises that will keep your workouts fresh if things start to get a bit stale. If you’ve got any questions or comments, please let us know below!

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