As humans, we’re bound to bipedal movement. We move with just two feet, one at a time. And in the animal kingdom, that’s pretty rare. Only humans, birds and (occasionally) apes walk like this. The rest of those cocky animals out there have faster, cooler means of getting around.
That’s not to say us bipeds don’t have our advantages. Learning to walk upright definitely gave our species a height advantage. And requiring only two feet to walk leaves our other limbs free to multitask. Then again, that may be more of a disadvantage, come to think of it.
Maybe we’re grasping at straws here. Other animals can run quicker, swim faster and jump higher than we can, with few exceptions (thanks for the confidence boost, Mr. Sloth!). Just check out this tiger catching some serious air to snag a meal. And here’s a helpful tutorial on why you can’t outrun a cheetah, in case you needed a friendly reminder.
So what do we humans do to compensate for our natural shortcomings? We imitate the heck out of animals, that’s what! We put flippers on our feet to swim. We dress like flying squirrels to jump off of buildings. We design swimsuits whose surfaces are inspired by shark skin to reduce drag.
It’s called biomimicry, taking inspiration from nature to solve human problems. Well, what if your problem is that you wanted to get more out of your movements? That’s what we’re going to solve today. We want to introduce five exercises that mimic different species throughout the animal kingdom. Remember back when you were a kid and you used to play around, pretending you were a particular animal? Who knew you were getting a great calisthenics workout the whole time?
Check out our list and let us know in the comments if you’ve got an animal movement you think we ought to know about. Now, let’s get ready to take a walk on the wild side!
5) Crab Walk
We all remember this one from childhood, right? Turns out, this simple exercise can work out a wide range of muscle groups, including triceps, hamstrings, abdominals and shoulders.
Simply begin in a sitting position with your palms resting on the ground behind you. Raise your torso off the ground and use your left leg and right arm to move forward, then repeat with the other limbs. After a few steps, hit reverse and crab walk backwards. No pinching required.
4) Bear Crawl
Although crabs and bears are about as different as animals get, their exercises are pretty similar. With a bear walk, you’re going to be facing the ground, as opposed to facing upwards in a crab walk. This is a great workout for triceps as well as pectorals and deltoids.
Begin on all fours, facing the ground. Fully extend your arms and keep your legs almost completely straight. In the same strides as a crab walk, walk forward for a few steps, then backwards.
As the video above illustrates, there are a lot of different variations to have fun with and channel your inner Yogi.
3) Duck Walk
Ah, the harmless duck. Adorable, soft, and the inspiration for one of the weirdest, catchiest and, let’s be honest, cutest internet videos of all time. Surely this exercise must be as easygoing as the animal that bears its name, right?
Not quite. The duck walk is a leg killer. This is going to give you an awesome burn in your quads, hamstrings and glutes. To perform it, drop into a squat position. Just like a normal squat, you’ll want to make sure your knees aren’t extended past your shoes and keep your spine parallel to your knees. But you’re not extending back up to starting position in a duck squat. Instead, you’re going to be walking forward without bobbing or leaning too far forward. Maybe you won’t look as adorable as a real duck, but you’ll have thicker legs.
2) Monkey Walk
Primates are gorillas and chimpanzees are notoriously strong, so imitating their movements seems like a no-brainer. Monkey walks have a lot of different variations to keep you moving and are great for mobility and overall body control. They’ll also strengthen your upper body (specifically shoulders) and lower body (quads, hamstrings).
You can begin in a typical bear crawl position, but instead of moving forward and backward, move left to right, and use your feet to move almost simultaneously, just like a monkey.
Check out the video to see just how many different ways you can alter the monkey walk.
1) Lizard Crawl
The inception of this intense, difficult exercise goes back to the original master of movement, Ido Portal. It’s an outstanding total-body workout, but it particularly works the chest. Some say the lizard walk could replace push-ups in your workout regimen. But it will also dramatically improve overall conditioning, balance, and overall body control.
If performing the maneuver is difficult, explaining it is even tougher. Begin on your hands and feet on the floor, with your body very clost to the floor. Extend your left arm out as far as you can and touch the ground. Simultaneously, shift your right hip upward in a smooth motion and bring your right knee up to your body so that your right foot plants under your knee. Repeat with the other side.
This should be done in a smooth motion, which makes it incredibly difficult. But hey, if lizards can do push-ups like a human, we can imitate them as well.