The movement of three animals for strength and mobility

Today my Paul Ryan from GMB Fitness is back with Part 2 of his Strength and Mobility series. See Part 1 here.

Mother and baby bear crawling together in the brightly lit roomWhat if you could spend a few minutes each day building up the working energy of the upper body without using anything other than your body weight, training your core and improving the mobility of your buttocks? No equipment required, and no gym membership.

It may sound too good to be true, but you can. We will show you the exact movements of your animals and how to do them We will cover three specific exercises: bear, monkey and frogger. They are all the same in that they contribute to the strength, control and mobility of the whole body, but they serve you in different ways.

Try these three animal movements for strong shoulders, a stable core and flexible hips

Why do you have to walk around like an animal? For starters, this is amazingly good for you.

This form of movement is called locomotion because you move your body through space. Walking is a good example of locomotion. We use animal movements because it provides that stimulus for the whole body and it is different from anything else in your day.

Most of the day, you keep your head above the body in a normal upright position. When you get down on all fours, you are actively coming out of this posture and moving to a fancy position where you are inverted and your head is tilted towards the ground.

For example, look at the position of Ryan’s head bears here:

Ryan is crawling on his hands and feet with his hips on the roof.

Inverting yourself helps load your shoulders and provides traction for the spine. This allows for some decompression of the spine and neck. When you start spinning with purpose, you will notice some relief in the tension that we all hold on our backs and necks.

Another positive aspect of reversal is that changing the position of the body can result in changes in circulation and respiratory response, which greatly prevents us from doing what we do every day.

When you do these movements regularly, you will create a strong upper back and shoulders, which carry out activities that require upper body strength. You will also strengthen your core and improve your stability as you are forced to balance yourself while working through this exercise.

Here is exactly how to make each animal movement.

Starting with the Beer Walk

Bear walking display.

How to make a bear:

  • Bend all fours (arms and legs) with your arms straight and your knees slightly bent.
  • Now lift your right arm and left leg and start moving forward.
  • Repeat the same thing with your left hand and right foot, walking forward. You can continue this pattern forward or backward.

The bear loads your shoulders and upper back, allowing you to build strength while making you feel comfortable in movement. This allows you to expand the spine and allow some decompression of the spine in the inverted position.

Another advantage is the flexibility of the hamstring and calf which will result in more regular movement. You will do basic stability work as you walk back and forth, maintaining balance and avoiding falls.

The next movement that means moving forward from here is Frager.

More powerful, more mobile hips with frigger

Ryan is showing the frog.

How to Frag:

  • Squat down with your hands in front of you.
  • Go forward and keep the palms of your hands flat on the ground.
  • Move your body weight forward towards your hands (pull your body towards your hands instead of pushing with your feet).
  • Pull yourself forward with your arms and torso, then jump like a frog to return to the starting position.

Good for bear-like frogs, shoulders and upper back because you are stabilizing your body weight with your hands. But since you’re in a deep squat position, you’re simultaneously working on the strength and mobility of your buttocks.

Once you are comfortable with the frigger, the monkey is another good to try.

Test your core and upper body strength with the monkey

Ryan shows the monkey.

How to make a monkey:

  • Start in a squat position and then reach your right hand. You want one hand on the outside of your right foot and the other on the inside.
  • Lean towards your right hand, move your weight to the side. Think about pulling yourself to the right.
  • With your weight in your hands, lift your hips while lifting the left leg and return to the squat position you started.

Repeat the movement in the opposite direction. Like bears and frogs, the monkey strengthens your spine and promotes core stability as you move around. It is also good for your shoulders and wrists because you balance yourself with your hands during movement. Because of the squat position, you will also work on the strength and mobility of the buttocks.

Watch the full movement on YouTube

The best way to do these movements is to set a timer anywhere at every 2 to 5 minutes and work through as much as you can safely and with good form. Feel free to take as many breaks as you want. We really want you to focus on being comfortable with the movement and doing what you can. We are more concerned with quality representatives as opposed to breaking the form and can do as much as you can in time.

Animal movement makes you strong, mobile and athletic

Depending on your initial training, the way you use animal movements may vary. You can use these as part of your warm-up before you start your gym session, or you can do them as a solo workout at home.

At GMB, we use the movements of these animals as a way to create complete body control for strength, mobility and more athletic movement.

To get more animal-based movements, check out GMB’s free 15-minute mobility boost. You can use it as a warm-up, or as a way to annoy and loosen up after a long day.

After a training accident ended his competitive gymnastics career, Ryan moved to Japan and competed in various martial arts until another injury re-evaluated his priorities in life. As the head coach of GMB Fitness, his goal is to show everyone that you can define your own fitness as a sustainable and enjoyable part of your life. You can follow GMB Fitness on Facebook, TwitterInstagram, and YouTube.

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