Animal style

I’m definitely in a Friday kind of mood. I think it’s because I have a babysitter coming tomorrow, and the prospect of a date night has me feelin’ a little crazy. I was sitting here, wracking my brain for a post idea, when it suddenly hit me: wouldn’t it be fun to devote an entire post to animal-themed exercises? Are you still with me? Of course, if you’re familiar with yoga, you know lots of poses have animal names. But what about cardio and strength training? Once I started thinking about it, I realized, there are actually a good number of them. Some are industry standards, some you may know by another name, and there may be a couple I just made up.

My weekend challenge to you: devote one workout to just animal exercises. This would be a fun one to do with your kids. Bonus points if you make animal noises while executing each move.

Galloping: a five-minute warm-up to get your heart pumping. It might feel a little dorky, but I’m taking this animal theme all the way! Don’t forget to alternate your front leg.

Photo: dailymotion.com

Bear crawls: please excuse the small, grainy photo, but this was the best one I could find. A lot of the photos out there showed people with their butt sticking way up in the air. I like this guy’s form, which looks a little easier on the back and hamstrings, and a little more challenging for the core. Works chest, shoulders, abs, hips and legs,

Photo: fitnessmagazine.com

Crab walk: Badow! I can’t promise you will get shoulders and abs like this girl, but a crab walk is a nice compliment to the bear crawls. You could alternate these two exercises, and hit just about every major muscle group. Tones triceps, and core, and you might also feel it in your glutes and quads if you keep your hips up and lift your leg as you “walk” along.

Photo: brightonfitness.wordpress.com

Frog jumps: normally I would call these squat jumps, but frogs do it too, so I’m going with it. I’m sure you get the idea, but If you want to see a human version, check out this post. This high intensity exercise spikes heart rate and works the whole lower body.

Photo: experiencelifemag.com

Horse pulls: this one you need a partner. One person puts a resistance band around their waist, while the other person holds on to the handles behind them. Horse, keep your body upright and your abs tight across the band. Driver, hold on tight to the band and walk or jog at a slower pace, resisting against the runner. Like a good horse, run ’til you drop.

Photo: swimpst.com

Lizard: some people call this exercise Spiderman, but I’ve always called it lizard, because it reminds me of how a lizard crawls along the pavement. Start in plank position, and then alternate bringing each knee to the same side arm. If you’re strong like this guy, you can lower into the down phase of a push-up, but you can also do this with straight arms. Make sure to turn your knee out to the side, rather than bringing it straight up and into the chest. Like all plank-style exercises, you want to keep your spine neutral (keep your butt down), eyes to the floor. And like a plank, this works just about every muscle.

Photo: fitnessmagazine.com

Cat/cow: time to cool down and stretch a little. This yoga pose goes from spinal flexion, to spinal extension, and back again, in a smooth, fluid movement. This photo shows the woman sitting back into child’s pose after the cow phase of the pose. You can add that part in, or skip it, and just flow between the cat and cow poses. This is great for improving range of motion in the spine.

Photo: yogajournal.com

Pigeon: this yoga pose is a favorite hip-opener, delivering a massive stretch to the hip flexor of the extended leg, and a second stretch to the piriformis muscle (under the glutes) in the bent-knee leg. Pigeon is a more advanced stretch, and beginners should be mindful of how they get in and out of the position. It can be modified by placing a towel or yoga block under the bent knee, or by lowering the torso over the front leg and putting the forearms on the ground for additional support.

Put all of these moves together into one quick and dirty circuit. Start with the warm-up, and then move on to cycle through each exercise, 2-3 times. If you have a large enough space, like a park or playing field, you could set up stations, using the traveling exercises to move between stations for the frog jumps and lizards. Just make sure you have enough distance to make it challenging. Try to perform each stationary exercise for at least 30 seconds, if not a minute, and rest for up to a minute between cycles. Save the cat/cow and pigeon poses for your cool-down at the end of all cycles.

Btw, if animal style revs you up and leaves you wanting more workout, you can always finish up with a more moderate session of cardiovascular exercise, like an easy jog or a power walk.

I’d love to hear if you complete the challenge. Did you add in any I missed? Let’s keep it clean, people.

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