The past decade has seen a huge surge of activity within the fitness industry; countless supplement companies have emerged, and an almost endless number of training methods and diet protocols have been developed. From patterned leggings to speedos, and even gas masks that make you look like Bane, fitness fads are a dime a dozen. Plenty of them come and go. However, there’s one ‘fitness fad’ that can never grow old, stale or go out of fashion and that will also be most effective for long-lasting physical benefits: the locomotion of “animal movements”. Here are our 5 Top Reasons to Practice Moving like an Animal!
1. Enhanced Flexibility and Mobility
Let me begin by saying this, flexibility and mobility are not the same thing. The main difference is that mobility is much more deliberate. For example, a martial artist may be able to do a split, but just because he’s flexible in that sense doesn’t mean that he’s able to move like a scorpion. The reason would be simple; he hasn’t trained his muscles to move outside that specific range of motion. When you incorporate mobility exercises into your fitness regimen, it forces your body to move in new positions, making flexibility more functional as well as your body more mobile.
2. Joint Health
Locomotion itself is a form of calisthenics which is considerably healthier for your joints than powerlifting, bodybuilding, or any other type of training involving weights. Sure, you can get injured doing calisthenics, but compare the number of calisthenics injuries to that of weightlifters, there is no comparison. This is because the human body evolved over time not to constantly lift heavy things, but to be able to move itself through space more efficiently. Think about it. Tens of thousands of years ago, were cavemen lifting barbells or heavy rocks for reps? Probably not. They more focused on crawling, pulling themselves up, sprinting, and putting themselves in optimal positions to hunt and catch prey. Training locomotion deliberately is the closest you can get to your natural, primal origins.
3. Long-Lasting Strength Gains
Training locomotion is a wonderful way of training your neuromuscular system without having to stack on muscle mass. This is because you’re forcing your body to use the proper muscles required for movement. Like I said earlier, mobility is deliberate. Think about it like this, anybody can lift a weight, but who can guarantee that that same person is using 100% correct form or activating all the necessary muscles? They may be moving the weight, but they might not be using the correct body mechanics. Locomotion forces you to use correct form, therefore activating and challenging the muscles appropriately, leading to true neuromuscular adaptation.
4. Compound Power
Unless you believe a specific part of your body is lacking in size or strength, compound exercises should always be used. Bruce Lee believed especially in the functionality of compound movements especially. What are compound movements, anyway? Simply put, compound movements are movements in which multiple muscle groups are used to generate force and perform an action. Compound movements benefit you by developing coordination, muscle control, and activating your kinetic chain, which is essential for generating ‘real-world’ athletic power.
5. Heightened Kinetic Awareness
Kinetic awareness is defined as the connection between your body and mind. How finely tuned are your senses? Can you notice acute tension in your body? How in-tune are you with your body? With heightened kinetic awareness, you develop a sharper sense of your own body’s movement mechanics, develop VERY fine motor skills, resulting in being able to move your body through space much more easily, gracefully and effortlessly than the average person without this awareness. For example, have you ever seen somebody backflip so smoothly, that it seemed they were floating? Gymnasts, dancers, and martial artists are all examples of people with very high levels of kinetic awareness.
In closing, locomotion and training animal movements certainly might seem like another fitness fad, but that’s not all it is. Like dance or martial arts, (think Shaolin kung fu monks who emulate animal movements as part of their training) it is a versatile, useful discipline with benefits that will endure long term if not for a lifetime (think Tai Chi practitioners aged 80+ years who still practice it daily). Implement them into your workouts or your post-workout stretches. I promise that you will see massive differences in not just your gym performance, but your overall health as well!