Animal Athletics means functional training with your own body weight by imitating animal movements.
In the German-speaking area, Fabian Allmacher in particular has made a name for himself when it comes to Animal Athletics. I present his book to you in the article.
I will also show you why Animal Athletics makes sense, which exercises I particularly liked and how you can use them.
Animal Athletics as part of the bodyweight training world
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you already know that I mainly deal with the topic of bodyweight training.
Training with your own body weight has unbeatable advantages. You can read it again here.
But what exactly is behind it? Well, literally translated bodyweight training means something like “bodyweight training”. That doesn’t necessarily sound like good German, so we speak of “training with your own body weight” or “own weight training”. As you have already noticed, these terms are a bit cumbersome in German, which is why the English expression bodyweight training has largely caught on with us.
In principle, it’s about training your body without additional aids (especially no additional weights).
Animal Athletics is part of the bodyweight training world. There are many different directions within bodyweight training, which I will summarize into the following major trends:
- Strength-based bodyweight training (callisthenics, skill training, etc.)
- Mobility-focused bodyweight training (yoga, mobility conditioning, etc.)
- Endurance-focused bodyweight training (Freeletics, running, Zumba, etc.)
- Mixed forms (Animal Athletics, Natural Movement, etc.)
Whereby one thing is clear: The boundaries are fluid and one area merges into other areas.
But where is there a black and white? The truth is always in the gray (shading) area.
The main features of Animal Athletics
Animals move in their natural environment with great elegance and grace. Nevertheless, they are powerful and fast.
Humans have unfortunately largely forgotten this natural way of dealing with their surroundings – namely through movement . This is where Animal Athletics comes in. It helps you to sort of restart your body awareness.
You are supported by early childhood movement patterns and movements based on animals, which never use individual muscles in isolation, but always use muscle chains that build on each other in a functional way.
In addition, there is increased mobility, which results almost automatically from performing the exercises.An important pillar of Animal Athletics is “back on all fours”. Which means that with many exercises you also have ground contact with your hands and thus massively strengthen your upper body strength. Just imagine a gorilla.
Monkeys are unlikely to suffer from ankle problems, any more than crocodiles from hip pain. Fabian Allmacher
Another important aspect of Animal Athletics is barefoot training. Don’t underestimate the importance of your feet. Shoes can be great for playing soccer or running. But in bodyweight training – especially in the Animal Athletics Workout, barefoot comes first. Besides the eyes, our feet play the most important role in your body’s posture system.
The numerous receptors in the soles of our feet are responsible for this. There are even more sensory cells there than in our face!
Another point about Animal Moves is focus. Don’t let yourself be distracted by your surroundings, just give yourself over to training and breathe like a crocodile.
Specifically, that means abdominal breathing including your flanks. You can get an idea of it here.
My 10 Favorite Animal Athletics Exercises
In the book mentioned above, the author presents many exercises, some of which are now part of my standard program. Here is my selection, the exercises are just great.
In the video instructions, I will show you all 10 exercises.
Below you can read again in more detail. I have created a picture and a short description for you for each exercise.
After you have taken this position, that is, hands and feet on the floor, arms and legs as far as possible and pushing your buttocks towards the ceiling, you come on tiptoe and lower your chin towards your sternum. You then make a kind of “hump” before you switch to the dog looking up and finally go back to the starting position.Reminiscent of a yoga exercise: The downward looking dog. However, this is only the starting position.
Your arms are on the inside of your thighs.Go into a deep crouch and, if possible, place your feet completely on the ground.
Then roll back until your shoulder blades touch the floor and then, with an impulse of your pelvis, swing compactly back into a crouch.
Only hands and toes touch the ground. Then jump with both legs in several small jumps to the right and then back to the left.Go to the quadruped.
As you get better, you can jump higher and higher and also try to stay in the air for a moment.
That means your feet and hands are touching the floor, your stomach is pointing towards the ceiling. Your arms are straight, your legs are bent, your hips are slightly raised.You first walk backwards into the support.
Then you stretch one leg up and briefly touch it with the stretched diagonal hand. Then put it down again and switch sides.
Then you raise one hand backwards and push your hips up as far as you can.As before, starting position backwards in support.
Your gaze wanders towards the ground.
Stand up in a slight straddle position and lean your stretched upper body forward. Then raise your stretched arms to the side so that you have to activate the muscles between your shoulder blades.An exercise for your upper back and legs.
Then, put your weight on one leg and bend it as much as you can. Then switch sides.
Get into the support (push-up starting position). Then, lower your buttocks towards your heels. Your knees stay in the air.The Wildcat. Meow!
Then push yourself forward again into the support and do a classic push-up.
How to proceed: Go into a straddled leg position and place your hands in front of your body with your legs straight. The legs should be outside the hands.This is really the coolest exercise and extremely demanding for your core.
Then step through with one leg between the arm and the leg on the other side. Stay straight in your arms while doing this. Then return to the starting position without raising your arms and repeat the exercise on the other side.
Beast Walk sagittal
In the simple variant, you leave your knees on the floor. It gets a little more difficult when your knees are a few centimeters above the floor.The Beast Walk is nothing more than the crawling that babies do.
Then you move on like that. Sagittal means that you move forwards and backwards. You can also walk sideways.
The biggest difference is that your buttocks are raised towards the ceiling and you straighten your legs as you walk. Arms and feet are back on the ground all the time.The Bear Walk looks a little different than the Beast Walk.
Here, too, you overcome distances and move on.
Your Animal Athletics Workout
You can incorporate the exercises presented above into your training in very different ways.
Decide whether you want to do a certain number of repetitions and sets (e.g. 10 repetitions with 2 sets each) or prefer to train for time (e.g. practice 60 seconds, rest 30 seconds).They can be used as a warm-up or as a whole training session. If you want to design an entire unit with it, proceed as follows.
Both are possible and useful. Fixed repetitions, sets and breaks will tend to increase your strength, while training over time will have a positive effect on your endurance performance. We are talking about nuances here, since they are the same exercises. So decide for yourself how you enjoy it more.
A demanding training could look like this:
- Perform each of the 10 exercises for 40 seconds, then always rest for 20 seconds
- If you increase the exercise time and / or decrease the break time, the whole thing becomes even more intense. It is best to use an interval timer app.
- You can also add a second and third round if you want to work up a sweat even more.
- You can also use exercise # 9 and # 10 as an active break for 30 seconds and the other 8 exercises e.g. perform for 60 seconds. But after that you can mop the floor because you will sweat so much.
Do not overtax yourself!
Give yourself time, feel your way. It’s best to just try the exercises. Have fun with it.
Animal Athletics is an ideal addition to classic bodyweight training with push-ups, pull-ups and the like
Due to the interesting exercise execution, it doesn’t get boring so quickly and can be integrated into your training plan as a warm up, mobility unit or as a real strength or endurance training.