The Top 5 benefits of Alternative Locomotion Movements aka Animal Movements Part 2/5

teaching ipso crawl

Ispo Crawl when left hand is synched with right foot movement

by Joe Di Stefano

click here for Part I

Eliciting a more balanced training effect.

“Body weight training” not so long ago was synonymous with doing a whole bunch of push ups and sit ups each night in front of the TV. Occasionally including chin ups for some but let’s face it most either did not have access to a chin up bar, did an entirely imbalanced ratio of push ups and sit ups to chin ups, or simply couldn’t do a single chin up so focused on the other two…as for legs, they either got the total shaft or were taken care of by “running”. 

Today “Body Weight” training for most has evolved, improved, and got a little more balanced but still many people do not balance the program anatomically. There are those that do of course, but sometimes only after incorporating outside equipment such as suspension trainers or other implements that continue to isolate specific movements or combinations.

Alternative locomotion, or animal movements, allow us to utilize the entire body in an athletic, fluid manner that forces all of the muscles to work as a single system. This helps us avoid a need to work the back, the middle, the top and the bottom which tends to develop “mirror muscles” but can actually impede athleticism and coordination while increasing injury potential in unforeseen or untrained scenarios, i.e. obstacle course race.

At the start of Day 2 of a recent Coaching Workshop, where Day 1 included multiple workouts using Crab Walks, Ape Walks and some Bear Crawls all the trainers could talk about was how sore their butts, inner thighs, upper and mid back muscles were. How often is that the case in bootcamp?! People are almost always universally sore in the chest, shoulders, quads and abs! This makes it clear that our effectiveness to work the “anterior” or frontside, of the body far outweighs our ability to work the “posterior” of the body. In fact, the postural adaptations discussed in the previous post along with a human body that is incredibly efficient at compensation, most of us tend to use all the same muscles in almost everything they do! Which also explains why people literally “forget” how to squat, lunge, or pick something up yet can “relearn” simply without stretching a single muscle once they switch on some of those dormant muscle groups.

Since the posterior side of the body is ultimately the side of the body whose strength and function will dictates head to toe injury potential, it is critically important to incorporate training that trains it efficiently and in synergy with the rest of the body it is designed to protect.

A WOD on Motion Part II

All motion is cyclic. It circulates to the limits of its possibilities and then returns to its starting point.

—Robert Collier

Cover 1 mile for time carrying a sand bag, dumbbell, or Lowe’s bucket full of sand or rocks.


Crab Walk, 50 ft

Sideways Ape Walk, 50 ft (left)

Sideways Ape Walk, 50 ft (right)

Reverse Crab Walk, 50 ft

Rest 1 minute, Repeat 3-5 times, then:

Match your previous 1 mile time from the warm up.

Lateral Ape: Beginning in a bear crawl position, “push” yourself backwards until your feet are flat on the floor and you are in a deep squat and “hands free” position. Now reach both arms to one side and shift as much of your weight into them as possible. Maintain this pressure as you “hop” your legs to that side. Continue in a fluid pattern and repeat on the opposing direction.

Animal Movements Glossary

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