Animal moves are great way to “trick” your child into exercising, building strength, improving mobility, and getting a great workout. The key is that rather than force exercise kids can have fun walking like a duck or instead of doing box jumps they can do frog jumps.
However, we are not quadrupeds or amphibians or water fowl—we are humans with completely different anatomies than the animals we mimic. Therefore our animal moves aren’t exactly the same as the animals who actually perform them. They might look even different if you’re an adult practicing animal movements for mobility and strength. For kids though, here are my ten favorite animal moves.
To perform the duck walk, sit in a full squat with heels down and feet angling out 8 to 15%. While staying in the squat position, walk. One cue to maintain proper technique is to ensure your head doesn’t bob up and down. Aim to keep your head level as you duck walk. This is an excellent exercise for quad strength and hip mobility.
A bear crawl is straightforward. Start on all fours and move on your hands and feet, keeping your back straight and parallel with the ground. Then, crawl contralaterally, which means moving your right arm with your left foot and your left arm with your right foot—opposite arm and leg moving together. As you become comfortable, try crawling forward, backward, to the right, and to the left. Challenge yourself further by crawling upstairs and downstairs or uphill both backward and forward. This movement is an ideal general warm-up for an exercise day as it gets your shoulders firing and engages your core. One thing to consider is doing five minutes of bear crawls a day around your house. Just accumulate five minutes daily, and you will feel more limber than you ever thought possible.
Squat down on your heels and lightly place your hands on the floor in front of you for balance. Hop forward a foot or two without fully standing up, always maintaining that squatting position. Allow your hands to touch the floor, more as a reference point than as a base of support. Use this exercise to build strength in the squat’s bottom position.
Begin in a position similar to the bunny hop, but with feet slightly wider and more weight on the hands. To move in the gorilla walk, place most of the weight on your arms and catapult your lower body forward. Imagine being a silverback gorilla vaulting through the jungle on your massive knuckles.
This is similar to the bunny hop, but there’s no arm involvement. It’s all about the quads and legs. Keep your torso more upright and hop along. You can also achieve a bit more hip extension on the jump, making it feel like more of a leap.
Backwards Snake Crawl
Lay down on your back and cross your arms. Move your hips and push off with your feet to crawl backward, pulling with your shoulder blades. This movement closely mimics a snake crawl. The key is to minimize limb use and rely mainly on your torso’s gyration.
For the alligator crawl, start in a low plank position, as if you’re at the bottom of a push-up, with weight on your hands and toes. Keep your belly and chest just above the ground and crawl. Start slowly, then try speeding up as you get the hang of it. This crawl might be one of the most challenging ones and is excellent for building isometric arm, tricep strength, and core tension.
The frog jump starts in a full squat. From there, jump as high and far as you can, landing back in a squat, then repeat. Ensure you maintain technical integrity; it’s not a race. Each jump should represent maximal output with perfect technique. If you begin to feel tired and notice sloppy technique, stop the exercise. This jump is excellent for peak power output. If you continue frog jumps into your 40s, 50s, or even older, you’ll be in a good position for long-term fitness.
Monkey Bars (Two Ways)
There are a couple ways to do the monkey bars.
- Bent arms: You can muscle your way across, keeping your arms flexed/bent as you pull yourself across from bar to bar. This is the fastest way to traverse the bars, but it’s also very hard on your arms. A great bicep workout.
- Straight arms: You can also swing with straight arms, using the momentum of your swinging legs and torso to carry you from bar to bar. This isn’t about arm strength, rather it’s predicated on being in rhythm and having a strong enough grip and stable shoulder girdle to support you going the distance.
Sit on the ground with your legs stretched out in front of you. From that position, place your hands and feet flat on the ground and lift yourself up so your body is no longer touching. Keeping your hips elevated, walk around forward, backward, and sideways. Always move contra laterally. Right hand, left foot. Left hand, right foot.
How to Use Animal Moves
Kids can use animal moves at any point in the day, but if you’re wondering when best to incorporate them take a look at the below suggestions:
- A morning routine: Every morning, do 30 seconds to a minute of each of the animal moves. It’s a great way to start the day and get some movement going and blood flowing.
- Microworkouts: Every couple hours or so, do a minute or two of animal moves. Use them to break up sitting on the couch for extended amounts of time or better encourage them while kids are watching TV.
- Warmups: Animal moves are great for warming up before a more intense activity. If your kid plays soccer duck walks, alligator walks, and frog jumps. If they play a racket sport try bear crawls or straight arm monkey bars. The point of a warmup is to increase body temperature, elevate the heart rate, and mobilize the targeted muscles and joints. Animal moves are great for all that.
Animal moves are a great way to have fun, build strength and mobility, and increase athleticism. Plus, they’re not just for kids, they’re great exercises for kids too. Thanks for reading, everyone. Take care.
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