“Animal Flow is an innovative fitness program that combines quadrupedal and ground-based movement with element from various bodyweight-training disciplines to create a fun, challenging workout emphasizing multi-planar, fluid movement.”
If you’ve been hunting for a movement system to deepen your understanding of Ido Portal’s locomotion exercises, Animal Flow is the system to follow.
Animal Flow’s training methodology embodies the evolution my own fitness practice has experienced over the last several years.
The “your body is a barbell” is cliché statement, but a true statement about bodyweight training. Everywhere you go, no matter what the circumstance, bodyweight training is a tool to be leveraged.
Don’t stop at isolation…
A lot of people stop the bus at basic bodyweight training: push-ups, pull-ups, squats, lunges, etc. I have nothing against basic bodyweight training because it’s brutally effective for improving performance, it’s free and it’s arguably the most functional form of resistance training.
You can live a great life by hammering away on basic bodyweight movements.
However, as I mentioned in my post “Basics of the Ido Portal Method”, a lot of people have an innate desire to explore what’s beyond isolation movements.
After a while, it’s common to feel like your workouts are being reduced down to numbers (quantified progress): more reps, more sets, more time, etc.
There’s nothing wrong with quantified progress. Quantifying your workouts practice is a great way to measure improvement or stagnation. Scanning your numbers can help you evaluate if your current training plan working the way it should.
It’s not much different than following a recipe in the kitchen.
But there is another realm, one where you’re moving without being restricted to reps and sets and time.
This realm explores your body’s movement capacity through space.
Twisting, turning, reaching, pulling, pushing, shifting, transitioning, flowing.
Some of these body positions are common and familiar, some are not. Training uncomfortable positions is important to prepare the body for unpredictable scenarios.
Movement capacity development.
Ground-based movement training benefits ANYONE and EVERYONE. Why? Because it is life played out through the movement lens. Everywhere you go, your body is right there with you.
Enter: Animal Flow…
- Anything in BLACK is information from the Animal Flow website.
- Comments in RED are my interpretation and elaboration on those points.
What comprises the Animal Flow program?
“Animal Flow includes a wide range of exercises and movement combinations that are grouped into six components, each designed to elicit specific results. The six components can be mixed and matched in many ways, and you can incorporate one, some, or all of them in your workouts! The six components include:
“Wrist Mobilizations include a range of simple exercises designed to increase the flexibility and strength of your wrists, which is particularly important for any practice where you are spending a lot of time on your hands.”
– Although most of human life is spent either sitting or standing, training the hands/wrists/arms to tolerate a more robust range of motion and loading stress in various positions is important.
Our wrists and arms aren’t designed to hang at our sides or flexed up on a keyboard for all day every day. Hanging, brachiation, crawling, climbing are all activities humans should be able to do.
More specific to the Animal Flow program, wrist preparation ensures your body is prepared to handle the load stress.
“Activations are static holds we perform to connect the body before we start our practice. Examples include Static Beast Hold, Static Crab Hold, and Limb Lifts.”
– Activating dormant muscles is helps protect our bodies against acute injury and chronic aches and pains. It boosts our ability to accomplish common daily tasks efficiently.
This is sometimes referred to as “pre-hab”. Again, cliché, but important.
It’s not necessary to suffer an injury to begin paying attention to muscle activation. Basic maintenance can keep a person functioning on a high level without pain or risk of injury.
Imagine how much better a squat would be if your glute muscles knew they were supposed to participate in the exercise.
Isolated activation exercises remind these muscles they’ve got an active role in the exercise to come.
Form Specific Stretches
“Form Specific Stretches are full body stretches that start in an animal form and then move through a wide range of motion. This increases your mobility and flexibility throughout the entire body. Examples include the Ape Reach, Beast Reach, Crab Reach and Scorpion Reach.”
– Stretching is not dead, so don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Mis-directed, poorly performed stretches are dead. Stretching areas that don’t need to be stretched is dead.
Smart, intelligent stretching in combination with passive and active mobilization techniques are a smarter way to achieve a more functional range of motion. Hello, KinStretch.
“Traveling Forms are exercises that mimic the movements of animals. You’ll start with the “ABCs” – Ape, Beast, and Crab – to get you going on these full body conditioning moves. The traveling forms are essentially how we move like animals to improve the function of the human animal.”
– The human body is designed to navigate many different forms movement.
The ability to handle your body while performing uncommon movement tasks (example: crawling) beyond standing and walking will serve you well across life. It gives quality to your years.
Crawling (and the many variations of crawling) is a major component of Traveling Forms. Yes, this is a similar crawling we do as infants. Funny how we regress back to our earliest forms of movement as a reset later in life.
Crawling is an under-estimated, challenging form of movement that trains the body to handle unique body positions, transitions, upper extremity loading and core activation.
The other, a less scientific reason to crawl, is it’s fun. Plain and simple. Crawling is an uncommon activity that is fun. Life’s too short to not have fun.
Fact: a person is more apt to stick to training if there is fun involved. Prove me wrong.
Switches and Transitions
“Switches and Transitions are dynamic movements that we perform one after the other, creating the “flow” of Animal Flow. You can transfer from one form to another, or repeat the same one as a drill. Examples include the many variations for Underswitches, Side Kickthroughs, Front Kickthroughs, and Scorpions.”
– Combining 2-3 exercises is a great way to create a training effect beyond what’s possible by practicing only one drill in isolation.
Transitioning from crawling, to kick throughs into hollow-body rocks will challenge your body to adapt to several different patterns and planes of movement and muscular stress.
Here’s an example: Animal Flow Workout – Long Cycle Ground Based Movement
These sequences can be practiced for extended periods of time to increase the demand on endurance and cardio.
A workout becomes an experience at this stage. Switches and transitions is where people begin noticing they’re having fun.
“Flow: Your Flow is where the real magic happens. You’ll combine the Animal Flow moves by linking them together in a fluid sequence, seamlessly transferring energy from one move to the next. Flows may be a choreographed sequence practiced over multiple sessions, or may be created freestyle!”
No secrets here, it will take dedicated practice and patience to arrive at the “flow” stage. Those who stick to the plan will make the gains needed to begin moving freely, improvising each movement as you go.
Like words making a sentence, exercises stitch themselves together, “flowing”.
In sync, the mind and body connection is extremely powerful. Flow a physical demonstration of a mind that is free.
Bringing it home…
A balanced approach of traditional resistance training, gymnastics, and ground-based exercises can make a person dangerous. Each philosophy improves the others.
If you’re a fan of Ido Portal’s methodology, Animal Flow is a logical training system to look into.
Ido hasn’t produced a product for the masses yet, and I suspect he will never release a product.
The current options to train under the Ido Portal Method are private online training or attendance of a seminar. Not ideal and both cost a small fortune. Ido is in high demand right now.
You could always cherry-pick drills from YouTube videos (as I have done), but you’ll never progress as quickly as if you were following a system.
Training systems are designed with an end goal: results.
If you’re interested in expanding your movement capacity, check out: Animal Flow 2.0
Cheers to discovering your movement capacity,