What is Animal Flow?
Animal Flow is a trademarked bodyweight program created by Mike Fitch that’s centred around ground-based work. It features animal-type movements that encourage core stability and strength, joint strength, and body awareness all without any fitness equipment.
The idea of animal flow is to unlock our fitness through primal patterns. The exercise challenges and exerts the body through multiple movements that the body typically may not be used to.
Five Different Components of Animal Flow
It features a series of animal-type primal movements that are connected to form a flow.
These activities are grouped into 5 different components,
- Wrist mobilizations (simple exercises to increase the flexibility and strength of your wrists),
- Activations (static holds performed to connect the body before starting practice),
- Form specific stretches (full body stretches that start in an animal form and then move through a wide range of motion),
- Travelling forms (exercises that mimic the movements of animals), switches (the dynamic movements that create the “flow”) and
- Flow (everything is combined into a fluid sequence).
Animal Flow Benefits
Most day-to-day activities have movements that don’t exert the body in various ranges of motion. Modern gym equipments offer restricted and rigid movement patterns, causing injuries.
Animal Flow patterns are performed in all three planes of movement (up and down, side to side and transverse) and lead to increased kinaesthetic awareness (which would help have a good sense of balance and respond to stimuli appropriately).
A 5-minute warm-up and cool-down are recommended before and after the workout. Repeat every exercise two-three times if you are a beginner. You can increase the number gradually if you feel that it is not exerting enough for your endurance.
It is advised to consult your doctor before trying any new workout routine, especially if you have experienced any health-related issues in the past.
Back to The Roots and Channel Our Animal Spirit
Let’s look at three movements that will help connect back to our primal roots and channel our animal spirit.
Underswitch Taps to Side Kick Throughs
This Animal Flow movement is fantastic for improving shoulder stability and mobility. Improve your coordination by learning how to lift and place your limbs on the floor simultaneously in the underswitch.
The sidekick through movement can also help lengthen and strengthen your core and adductors to help improve your body control and hip mobility in your lifts.
- Start with a quadruped position with your knees and inch off the floor
- Lift your opposite hand and foot a hair off the ground
- Plant the heel of your grounded foot, and bring your leg under, placing it on the ground
- Tap only 10% of your weight on the floor with your hand and foot, and come back to your starting position
- Repeat this movement in the opposite direction
- From your starting position, lift your opposite hand and foot, bring your leg under, and extend your leg out as far as you can, pulling your elbow up and back, externally rotating your arm.
- Come back to your quadruped position and alternate sides.
This “beast reach” is a great way to decompress the spine, lengthen and strengthen the hip flexors, and improve wrist mobility. Focus on articulating your spine to help you maintain proper posture both in and out of your workouts.
- From a child’s pose, position with your knees and inch off the ground, lift your hips towards the sky, lift one foot off the ground, bring the leg tight to your ribs, and keep your core engaged and toes pointed.
- Wave through your spine, putting forward pressure on your wrists as you squeeze your glutes as you lift your chin, glancing forwards.
- Pull your shoulders down and back, then tuck your chin, and wave through your spine, keeping your knee tight to your body as you descend back into your modified child’s pose position.
- Alternate sides.
Crab Reach to Reaching Ape
Combining many movements into a sequence will help improve your coordination, ankle mobility, thoracic mobility and open up your hip flexors. Hitting many major joints in one movement will maximise your ability to control the movements of all joints.
- Start in a deep ape position, flex your spine, tuck your pelvis under, and internally rotate your arms overhead.
- From this position, externally rotate your arms, bringing them out to your side as you shift your weight onto the balls of your feet and lift your heels off the ground.
- Try to keep your core tight, stack your shoulders over your hips, and return to the flexed position.
- Next, reach one hand diagonally, placing it on the ground, and bring the same side leg under. Assuming a “crab” position
- Keeping your free hand off the ground, bridge your hips up, keeping your core and glutes tight, and reach your hand towards the ground
- Reverse the movement and alternate sides.
We’ve recently interviewed an Animal Flow Training Expert – Swetha Devaraj about their journey.
While each of the bodyweight workouts is unique, they all share common elements. Animal Flow can be intimidating at first, but the movements allow you to push your body’s capability. The concept of “flow”, where each movement links to another movement, is the core element of the workout. These movements combine multiple muscle groups, improving your body and your mind.