If you’ve tried to lose weight, there’s a good chance that you’ve heard of the Paleo Diet, where you are supposed to eat like a caveman. There are no processed foods in the diet, relying mainly on meat, vegetables and other foods that are low in carbohydrates. If you found the Paleo Diet to be helpful, there might be a complementary exercise that’s perfect for you. It’s called Animal Flow, and it’s a way of working out like a caveman would.
It might sound a little more intense than eating like a caveman, but plenty of people are trying out this new trend. Animal Flow is a fitness program that was designed by Mike Fitch, a personal trainer and founder of a fitness company that has specialized in new workouts. So what is the method behind the madness for Fitch’s Animal Flow program? Let’s take a deeper look into the workout to see if it might be the right program to get you moving and increase your weight loss.
Behind Animal Flow
One thing that cavemen didn’t have back in the day was expensive gym equipment. It only makes sense, but they were able to stay in great shape. A lot of that came from having to lift rocks and chase down animals in order to survive, but running through the streets in loin cloth while chasing a boar with a spear might get you arrested…if you can even find a boar in the city.
Instead, you’ll be focusing on using your own bodyweight in what Fitch calls “quadrupedal and ground-based movement.” In layman’s terms, it means crawling around like a monkey that’s searching for food, for the most part. There is more to it than that, though, as there are different aspects of the Animal Flow workout, which combines interval training, strength training and cardio to make it an all-around exercise.
There are six different components of the Animal Flow workout, so let’s look at these aspects:
Activations – Activations are “static holds” to get you warmed up before a workout so that your body can be in sync.
Form Specific Stretching – Stretching continues with form specific stretches, increasing your range of motion. These are less intense than the rest of the workout as you focus on flexibility compared to cardio.
Wrist Mobilizations – Since you’re going to be using your bodyweight through the entire exercise, you’re going to have to have strong wrists. You’ll be able to increase your wrist strength and flexibility through these exercises.
Flow – The biggest part of the exercise, the flow aspect is where you combine all of the other aspects for a full workout, linking one exercise to the next.
Traveling Forms – The part that might look the most awkward, traveling forms are the exercises in which you do the same moves that an animal would. Monkeys and crabs are the most common animals you’ll mimic.
Switches and Transitions – Learning to move from one section of a workout to the next will be broken down in this section, as there is no rest between movements. Perfecting this can be difficult, but will make your workout easier.
The Animal Flow Exercises
Now that we have a little of the Animal Flow knowledge, we need to learn how to put it all together. A typical Animal Flow workout is broken down into nine different types of movements. There is no rest in between these exercises, and it’s suggested that you perform the workout once per week, repeating the nine step process once for a total of 20 steps. Here is what you can expect:
Crab Reach – Keeping your behind off of the ground while holding yourself up with your hands and legs, you reach one arm across the side of your body, keeping your hand behind your head. You repeat this on both sides for eight times each.
Scorpion Reach – Another animal movement, you balance with your hands and feet while keeping your body off of the ground, extending your leg over your head like a scorpion’s stinger. After extending, tuck your knee under your torso and repeat eight times on each leg.
Traveling Ape – Now comes the ape part that everybody talks about, the traveling ape. This is when you squat like an ape would and then kick out your legs (donkey style) and then to the left and right, using your hands to keep yourself up. There are 16 total repetitions for this exercise.
Traveling Beast – This exercise is quite similar to the traveling ape, except you’ll be kicking front and back instead of left and right, using both legs at the same time.
Lateral Lunge – Standing with your legs spread slightly, you reach down to your left leg with your right hand and then repeating on the other side. After stretching your arm, you lunge down with your leg and then leap up in the air when you get back into a standing position.
Side Kick Through – Starting while on your hands and knees, you lift your knees above the ground and then kick out one leg with your other still on the ground. This is repeated 16 times on each side.
Single Leg Hip Extension – While on your back, lie down with one leg bent and the other stretching up toward the sky with your toes pointed out. This is a simple exercise that’s a nice break in a hard workout, repeated on each side 16 times.
Elbow Plank Rotations – After getting in the plank position with your forearms on the ground, rotate your body one way while lifting your right arm to the sky and having your right leg on the ground. Repeat this 16 times on each side, engaging your core muscles.
Down Regulation – The final exercise gets back into the crab position where you do the first crab stretch and then follow it up by lowering your bottom close to the ground without touching. This is repeated eight times before getting back to the crab workout to start over again.
Losing Weight with Animal Flow and Resources
Since you are engaging in a total body workout without any rest, you can be sure that you’ll be burning a lot of calories during an Animal Flow workout. While there is no specific amount of calories that you’ll be burning during the workout, a similar program called Power Yoga burns between 300 and 420 calories per hour. This one is a little bit more intense, so you can expect slightly higher numbers per hour.
Since this is a workout that engages a lot of your muscles, you will be able to build muscle if you are eating a normal diet. This might lead to slight weight gain, but that’s to be expected when you’re eating enough to build muscle. If you are looking to lose weight and shed fat, then you’ll have to take down your daily calorie total to between 1,200 and 1,500 depending on your current size.
You can do many of the Animal Flow workouts at home since there are videos released by Fitch on YouTube. If you prefer to get out and socialize with people, there are workshops at Equinox Gyms across the nation, though they mostly tend to be in larger cities. For the full experience, there is a book that shows Animal Flow training for mixed martial arts (around $20), a hand balancing video that will get you more acclimated to an Animal Flow workout ($90 to $100) and a full Animal Flow program (with DVD) for $50 to $60. Each workout on the DVD (or e-video if you prefer) is a 45 to 60 minute workout depending on the day and adds new moves that we haven’t touched on.
Summing it Up
While the Animal Flow workout is certainly a fun and different full body experience, getting the expensive packages isn’t quite necessary with the knowledge of primal full body workouts already available for free. Then again, the trade-off might be what you’re looking for since you won’t have to sign up for a gym membership or buy any of the equipment that many would consider to be pricey.
There aren’t really any negatives to working out like a caveman. There is low impact on these exercises, especially compared to running or other cardio and strength training forms. If you get bored of the same core exercises, there are a total of 26 out there that you can learn from watching videos that will allow you to change up your workout. You can swap it up, though you’re getting your best workout if you take up to 60 minutes at a time, working out up to six times per week. All in all, it’s worth a try if you don’t mind looking like an animal, though when you’re in your own house, it’s probably not a problem.