Enjoy Yoga? I think you’ll like Animal Flow.
Don’t like Yoga? That’s ok, I still think you’ll like Animal Flow.
Animal Flow is a ground based, bodyweight movement program.
It bridges the gap between stationary Yoga and free flowing bodyweight based movement. If you’d like some background info about Animal Flow, check out this article.
Yoga is an incredible physical practice. Slowing down to focus on centering oneself, breath, calming down the busyness of the day, simplicity over complexity, and the poses provide tremendous physical and mental benefits.
That being said, there are instances when I crave movement beyond the yoga mat.
I’m not alone here. Approachable movement based training is a mode of fitness a lot more people are looking for. Many of Animal Flow’s exercises, combinations and workouts are quite popular with my YouTube subscribers.
Beginner or a elite movers, at home, the gym or traveling, it doesn’t matter much when the movements are scalable, bodyweight based and require little space to do.
In this article we will shine the spotlight on Animal Flow’s Scorpion exercise.
Scorpion is one of many primary movements in Animal Flow.
Here’s what Scorpion looks like…
The Benefits of the Scorpion exercise include:
– Lengthening of the hamstrings and lats
– Opening up and activating the hips
– Thoracic spine extension and rotation
– Shoulder performance
– Rotation core training
– Uniquely challenging multi-planar movement
– Ground based, bodyweight based, equipment free, minimal space requirements
Scorpion Movement Technique
The end goal of any movement training is generally seamless, flowing movement with beautiful transitions. Strength, stability, range of motion and conditioning all fuse together to create movement skill. Words will never do expert level demonstrations of movement justice, but we know it when we see it. It’s fluid, seemingly free of flaws and confident.
Then, the reality of the situation. Most people who are new to ground based movement are going to trip over their limbs for a while before getting it down. I call it “eating dirt” (aka: sucking). The more you practice, the less dirt you’ll eat.
So, lets dive into Scorpion exercise technique to provide a solid base of what the exercise should look and feel like.
The bottom position of Scorpion involves trunk flexion and a bit of rotation.
– Eyes toward the hands
– Shoulders over the hands
– Round the back slightly to make room for the knee coming across
Slide the knee across the midline of the body to the opposite side elbow. “Kiss” the knee cap to the elbow. followed by a reversal of the motion to initiate the upward phase of Scorpion.
* Tip: Remove momentum from the cross-body knee touch. Move slow and with control. If you cannot touch the knee to the opposite side elbow without compensating, that’s fine! Work the range of motion that you’re able to control.
**Warning: core cramping possible… crossing knee through the midline to the opposite side elbow is a tough little move and requires a decent amount of core strength and control.
At the top of the Scorpion, the body moves into trunk extension and rotation.
– Head between the arms
– Keep anchored leg as straight as possible
– “Reach” with the elevated foot, squeeze this glute
– Relax the jaw and neck (breathe)
After touching the knee to the opposite side elbow, reverse the motion back through and up, leading with the foot. Move into a modified Downward Dog as the free leg adducts and opens at the hip.
Here’s what I’m talking about…
Moving is a multi-sensory experience. You hear, see and feel with every movement.
Learning new movements can be less confusing if you can anticipate what to feel while performing the exercise.
At the bottom position of Scorpion, most people are going to feel an intense core contraction. The “burn” if you will. Scooting the knee across the midline of the body to the far side elbow is a tough maneuver. Locking the trunk into place isolates this move even more.
At the top position of Scorpion, you may feel a little burn in the elevated glute, stretch of the hip flexors of that same leg, along with a nice stretch running down the anchored leg from glute to the heel. The rotation in the up position is great for a side body stretch, with focus on the lats leading up into the armpit.
Personally, my lats (hips to arm pits) get a big stretch during Scorpion.
How to Incorporate Scorpion into Workouts
As part of a Warm Up
Animal Flow and other ground based movement training are PERFECT for warming up before resistance training or cardio conditioning work.
In this situation, you could organize the workout like this:
1. Foam Roll + Active mobility training (Kinstretch, etc)
2. Ground Based Conditioning (Animal Flow)
3. Resistance Training
This is a very simple workout template, but simple can be brutally effective.
Spend 15-20 minutes working through the foam roll, mobility and Animal Flow movements. Keep it brief and focused.
As part of a Lift or Cardio Circuit
Scorpion works well as a filler exercise when paired more traditional lifts (chin ups, squats, deadlifts, lunges, pressing, etc). The nice part about filler exercises is they should compliment your traditional lift performance. If they are sucking away too much energy from these lifts, you’re using the wrong filler exercises.
Here’s an example of a strength focused tri-set with the Scorpion as a filler exercise:
A1) Chin Up
A2) Front Squat
A3) Alternating Scorpion
The tri-set above is loaded with benefits. 3 exercises. Chin ups and front squats are strength based, while the Scorpion is simple ground based natural movement.
If you’re looking for a cardio circuit, see how this grabs you:
3-5 rounds of:
10 Kettlebell Swings
10 Push Ups
10 Alternating Jumping Split Squats
—> Rinse and repeat.
In this workout, the Scorpions will be performed under fatigue. If you’re not ready for Scorpions under fatigue just yet, opt for practicing while fresh.
As part of a Movement Flow
Set a timer for 5, 10, 15, 20+ minutes and flow around a room using nothing but bodyweight movements you’re familiar with.
Simple crawling exercises integrated with periodic switches and transitions is a great place to start.
Add in some push ups, planks, squats, lunges, bending, reaching, twisting.
Do it all. Flow around and explore the space.
Flow work can be organized or improvised. Beginners might want to organize several exercises in a row for memory purposes, and eventually make the jump to improvised movement. Either way, a simple movement flow session can be a welcomed departure from weightlifting. It’s freeing, challenging and nourishing experience for the mind and body.
Break the idea that every workout needs to be a redline work efforts separated by rest.
Move around just for the sake of moving around. Explore. Transition into and out many different positions (reaching, twisting, crawling, bending, jumping, holding, etc)
A little nourishing total body movement training on an off-day can leave you feeling refreshed and better prepared for the next intense training session.
Unique, Multi-Planar Movement Kicks Ass
The majority of Animal Flow exercises are multi-joint and multi-planar (which is awesome), but don’t expect to nail down the technique on the first attempt, second or even the tenth. These ground based movements aren’t as simple as curling or pressing weight up and down for reps, until the “burn” is felt.
There’s most certainly a period of acclimation. Practice will improve body awareness in space, strength, joint mobility and efficiency.
Body awareness in space is a big benefit to ground based movement training. Expanding and refining your body’s movement skillset is a fantastic pursuit.
A person’s ability to confidently interact with the ground (ever-changing terrain, body positions, etc) throughout life is a valuable skill to have. We take it for granted when we are younger, but as we age, it could be the difference between an injury and a safe fall.
So, each time you practice, the movements will improve as your body begins to familiarize itself with the mechanics, point of view, joint performance requirements.
It’s academics, for the body, best learned through repetition.
Don’t be hard on yourself or judge technique off of early attempts.
A lot of common gym exercises lack rotation. I’m by no means a rotational training junky, but it is part of human movement and adding in a little rotation training can provide tremendous improvements in movement IQ.
Lunges, squats, kettlebell swings, over head pressing, push ups and vertical pulling exercises such as pull ups and chin ups are all great exercises, but they lack rotation.
Exercises like the Scorpion move the entire body through a unique range of motion, challenging the core, hips and shoulders.
Clearly, I am a fan.
If you have any interest in exploring ground based movement, I highly suggest investing a few dollars into Animal Flow. Animal Flow is the best ground based movement system offered on the internet.
Cheers to you,