This Animal Flow Workout Will Get You Stronger Without Any Weights

Don’t let the odd name deter you: Animal flow offers unique benefits you won’t get from traditional strength training. “It fundamentally brings you back to the basics,” says Nike Master Trainer Patrick Frost. “These are ground-based movements, where you create resistance by pushing and pulling your body around a fixed platform.” The trick to mastering this discipline is generating constant tension throughout your body. “There are some parts that require grace and some that require grit,” Frost says.

“You could do this same workout multiple times and have a completely different experience depending on how you attack it.” While mimicking the movement patterns of a crab or an ape can seem a little goofy, animal flow workouts will challenge your strength, endurance, balance, and mobility all at once. Over time, you’ll develop better proprioception and move with greater intention, which will make your workouts more efficient and effective, and leave you feeling like an apex predator.

The Workout

Warm up, then perform 3 rounds of each exercise, following the prescribed work and rest periods. These moves require a lot of wrist extension and endurance to sustain proper form, so take a break as needed when starting out. Add this workout to your program 1-2 times a week and slowly build up to 3-4 times. You can also use some of these sequences as warmups or even finishers to your program.

Expert Tip: Tense Up

While these exercises should be fluid, create constant resistance by drilling palms into the ground and exaggerating movements, radiating tension through your limbs.

The Warmup

Dedicate 5 minutes to wrist mobilization: Get on all fours and flip your wrists around,
then lean or rock back and forth. After, work through these exercises for 40 seconds
each. They’ll prep your joints for the main animal flow. Perform 2 rounds.

Alternating crab reach
Alternating crab reach (A) James Woodley for Men’s Journal

Warmup 1. Alternating Crab Reach

Start in crab position, feet hip-distance apart, hips hovering 1 inch off ground, and arms behind back, fingers pointing away from body. Bend right arm to midline so hand is 6 to 8 inches from face (A).

Transition phase of alternating crab reach
Transition phase of alternating crab reach (B) James Woodley for Men’s Journal

Drive through heels and extend hips up into a three-point stance bridge (B).

Final stage of alternating crab reach
Final stage of alternating crab reach (C) James Woodley for Men’s Journal

Reach your arm up and over toward opposite hand, keeping a soft bend in elbow, eyes gazing at static hand (C). Lower, switching sides with each rep.

Beginning phase of Beast Wave Unload
Beginning phase of Beast Wave Unload (A) James Woodley for Men’s Journal

Warmup 2. Beast Wave Unload

Start in loaded beast position on all fours, pushing hips back toward heels as you reach arms forward (A).

Beast Wave Unload transition phase
Beast Wave Unload transition phase James Woodley for Men’s Journal

Hike hips toward ceiling. Once knees are fully extended (B), tuck chin into chest and slowly roll your spine, emphasizing the curve in your back (C). When shoulders pass wrists, come into an upward-facing dog.

Beast Wave Unload transition phase
Beast Wave Unload transition phase (D) James Woodley for Men’s Journal

Open your chest, pull chin to ceiling, and squeeze glutes (D). Reverse the wave and repeat.

Beginning of Alternating Scorpion Reach
Beginning phase of Alternating Scorpion Reach (A) James Woodley for Men’s Journal

Warmup 3. Alternating Scorpion Reach

Start in loaded beast position (A).

Transition phase of Alternating Scorpion Reach (B)
Transition phase of Alternating Scorpion Reach (B) James Woodley for Men’s Journal

Drive through balls of feet to bring left knee across body toward right wrist, keeping a slight bend in right knee (B).

Final phase of Alternating Scorpion Reach (C)
Final phase of Alternating Scorpion Reach (C) James Woodley for Men’s Journal

Extend arms as you drive left leg back, bending the knee and opening your hip, pressing shin toward ceiling (C). Bring left knee across body again before returning to start position, then repeat on opposite side.

Deep Ape position (A)
Deep Ape position (A) James Woodley for Men’s Journal

Workout 1: Deep Ape to Side Kick Through

Start in a deep squat, with feet hip-width apart or wider for comfort, feet slightly turned out, and arms between knees, keeping a flat back and proud chest (A).

Deep Ape to Side Kick Through
Deep Ape to Side Kick Through transition (B) James Woodley for Men’s Journal

Shift weight forward as you plant right hand to the ground (B) and kick right leg through, pointing toe and pulling left elbow back, palm facing away (C).

Side Kick Through (C)
Side Kick Through (C) James Woodley for Men’s Journal

Return to deep ape position, then switch sides. Work 40 seconds on, 20 off.

Crab position (A)
Crab position (A) James Woodley for Men’s Journal

Workout 2. Crab to Underswitch Taps

Start in crab position (A), then drive through your right toe and left hand to pivot your body (B) onto all fours.

Crab to Underswitch Taps
Crab to Underswitch Taps transition (B and C) James Woodley for Men’s Journal

As soon as your limbs tap the ground (C), immediately redirect your momentum to the starting position (D).

Final position of Crab to Underswitch Taps transition (D)
Final position of Crab to Underswitch Taps (D) James Woodley for Men’s Journal

Switch sides on each rep. Work 30 seconds on, 15 off.

Start position of Traveling Beast (A)
Start position of Traveling Beast (A) James Woodley for Men’s Journal

Workout 3. Traveling Beast

Start in beast position, with hands directly below shoulders, and knees stacked over hips, hovering 1 inch off the ground. Engage your core, keep your trunk level and low, then take a small step forward, moving right hand and left foot, resisting rotation through your hips (A).

Traveling Beast (B)
Traveling Beast (B) James Woodley for Men’s Journal

On the next rep, move left hand and right foot, making sure they pick up and land simultaneously (B). Work 30 seconds on, 15 off.

Loaded Beast
Loaded Beast start position (A) James Woodley for Men’s Journal

Workout 4. Loaded Beast to Front Step Through

Start in loaded beast position (A), then explode through the balls of your feet
(B) and jump forward with control.

Loaded Beast to Front Step Through transition(B)
Loaded Beast to Front Step Through transition (B) James Woodley for Men’s Journal

Forcefully drive your left leg into full extension, toes pointed, as your right arm assumes a “guard” position at your midline, elbow bent with hand in front of face (C).

Final position Loaded Beast to Front Step Through (C)
Final position Loaded Beast to Front Step Through (C) James Woodley for Men’s Journal

Reverse the motion to return to start, switching sides with each rep. Work 20 seconds on, 10 off.

Finisher Flow

Beast to left-leg underswitch to right-arm crab reach to jumping left-leg underswitch to right-leg side kick through to right-leg full scorpion to left-leg underswitch to beast. Repeat opposite side. Work 60 seconds on, 30 off. Repeat 3 times.

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