Build Full-Body Strength With This 9-Exercise Animal Workout

These 9 exercises prescribed by STACK Expert Andrew Meyers will help you develop the strength and speed to be an animal on the field.

Whenever an athlete is compared to an animal, it is usually considered a compliment to their work ethic, skill, and athletic ability. And why not? Animals can sprint, jump and lift more than most humans. To be able to acquire these abilities, you need try this animal workout. Here are 10 animal-inspired exercises to help you unleash your inner beast and improve your athletic performance.

RELATED: Unleash Your Inner Beast With This 'Animal-Style' Warm-Up

1. Clam Shells

This animal exercise is great for strengthening your hips and glutes, which tend to be an underdeveloped, but crucial muscle for athletes in any sport.

How to Perform:

  • Lie on your side with your spine aligned with the edge of your mat.
  • Stack your legs one on top of the other, and tuck your knees forward at 45 degrees.
  • Exhale as you lift your top knee up, keeping your feet together.
  • Inhale as you close your legs, keeping your pelvis steady throughout the movement.
  • Athletes can increase the difficulty by wrapping a theraband around the lower thigh just above the knee.

Sets/Reps: 3x20 on each side

RELATED: Why Your Glutes Won't Get Stronger

2. Dead Bugs

Dead Bugs are a simple, but effective exercise that helps strengthen your core, hips and lower-back stabilizer muscles needed to produce movement with resistance in sports such as blocking a lineman in football or pinning an opponent in wrestling.

How to Perform:

  • Lie on your back with your arms extended in front of your shoulders.
  • Bend your hips and knees to a 90-degree angle.
  • Tighten your abs and press your lower back into the floor.
  • Take a deep breath in.
  • As you exhale, slowly extend your left leg toward the floor and bring your right arm overhead.
  • Keep your abs tight and don't let your lower back arch.
  • Slowly return your arm and leg to the starting position.
  • Repeat with your opposite arm and leg continuing to alternate.

Sets/Reps: 3x10

RELATED: 4 Sure-Fire Ways to Build a Strong Core

3. Prone Cobras

This exercise is similar to a Superman except your arms are behind you rather than out in front. This helps focus more on your back musculature, including your rhomboids, erector spinae and lumbar. These muscles are especially important to baseball, softball, golf and rowing athletes.

How to Perform:

  • Lie face down on the floor with your legs straight and your arms next to your sides, palms down.
  • Contract your glutes and the muscles of your lower back, and raise your head, chest, arms and legs off the floor while simultaneously rotating your arms so your thumbs point toward the ceiling.
  • Pause for a second and lower back down.
  • This exercise can also be an isometric exercise by holding the top position for 30-60 seconds.

Sets/Reps: 3x20

RELATED: 3 Exercises That Build Strong Back and Shoulder Muscles

4. Donkey Kicks

Perform this exercise to strengthen your glutes and hamstrings.

How to Perform:

  • Get on all fours on a mat with your hands under your shoulders, and your knees under your hips.
  • Keeping your right knee bent at 90 degrees, flex your right foot and lift your knee to hip level.
  • Lower your knee without touching the floor and repeat.
  • Athletes can increase the difficulty by placing a dumbbell in the crease of their back knee.

Sets/Reps: 3x20 on each leg

5. Crab Walks

This exercise brings athletes back to their P.E. days of walking on all fours the length of the gym. While it seems like fun, this exercise is difficult and increases strength and endurance in your shoulders, triceps, glutes and hamstrings.

How to Perform:

  • Assume a table position with your feet under your knees, and your hands under your shoulders.
  • Keeping your hips up, walk forward for 90 feet or the length of a basketball court, then reverse the motion and walk backwards to your starting point; that is one repetition.

Sets/Reps: 3x3

6. Bird Dogs

This exercise was inspired by bird dogs, which are used by hunters to point toward game birds. The motion of the exercise mimics the pose these dogs make, and it increases balance and core stability.

How to Perform:

  • Kneel on the floor with hands firmly placed about shoulder-width apart.
  • Brace your abdominals and lift one hand and the opposite knee just clear of the floor while balancing on the other hand and knee.
  • Point the arm out straight in front and extend the opposite leg to the rear.
  • Your shoulders and hips should be parallel.
  • Pause for a second and then return your hands and knees on ground position.
  • This exercise can be made isometric by holding the top position for 30-60 seconds.

Sets/Reps: 3x20 on each side

7. Crunchy Frogs

The crunchy frog exercise is an excellent core exercise that helps increase balance with movement similar to movements used by athletes in their respective sport.

How to Perform:

  • Begin in a seated position on the floor.
  • Bend your knees and lift your legs slightly off the ground as you lean back slightly.
  • Maintaining your balance, pull your knees to your chest in a slow and controlled motion.
  • As you exhale pull your navel to your spine, and lean back slightly as you open your arms to the sides and straighten your legs.
  • Inhale and return to the starting position to complete one rep.

Sets/Reps: 3x20

8. Bear Crawls

This is probably the most inner beast-inspired exercise on this list as athletes are required to run like a bear. Focusing on your core, shoulders, legs and overall muscle coordination, this exercise will make you feel down right primal.

How to Perform:

  • Assume a plank position with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Keeping your back straight and your core tight, step forward with your right foot and left hand.
  • Repeat with your opposite arm and leg, and continue walking forward for 90 feet, then turn around and bear crawl back to the starting point; that is one repetition.

Sets/Reps: 3x3

9. Spider Planks

Planks on their own are an excellent core strengthening exercise, but they can be somewhat simple for more experienced athletes. To truly unleash your inner beast and challenge yourself, try the Spider Plank to add strength to your hip flexors and obliques.

How to Perform:

  • Start in a traditional plank position with your forearms on the ground and your body perfectly straight.
  • Bring your right knee forward and to the side toward your right elbow, then return to the starting plank position.
  • Repeat by bringing your left knee toward your left elbow.
  • That is one repetition.

Sets/Reps: 3x15


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: LOWER BODY | CORE | UPPER BODY | CHEST | PLANK | BUILD MUSCLE | EXERCISING | LOWER BACK | ENDURANCE