A wild animal's physicality is at its best when put to the test for its survival. So when it comes to fitness, a lot can be gleaned from animals across the African savannah, in the rivers or high up in the jungle treetops. If we incorporate how they move into our fitness regime, it would culminate in the ideal workout with maximum benefits. So here are some of our suggestions for a full-body workout, African style...
With a heart double the size of a lion, hyenas are tenacious and known for their stamina. These seemingly creepy carnivores (also documented to be cannibals who eat their young, but which also hold an important place in the wild), can follow their prey for days on end at a steady trot – never losing sight of and never giving up until they get the prize. Long-distance, steady, marathon-style is their forte.
...when it comes to fitness, a lot can be gleaned from animals across the African savannah, in the rivers or high up in the jungle treetops.
Exercise like a hyena:
Often overlooked in favour of more intense high-impact workouts, jogging has many benefits and is an exercise you can do in and out of a gym. Keeping a steady pace will ensure you cover a longer distance and in that way, you enter the fat-burning zone and stay there for the next 48 hours after a run.
It's true that cheetahs struggle to keep up the momentum of a hunt due to many reasons, including overheating and sore muscles. As a result, only 40% of their hunts end in a kill. Having said that, no other animal can match the cheetah when it comes to speed, and the female cheetah has been known to cover nearly 190 metres in 7 seconds!
Exercise like a cheetah:
SPRINT (interval running)
HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) is best suited for people who don’t have the stamina for endurance running but have the need for speed in short bursts. This form of training alternates between brief bursts of high-intensity exercise and low-intensity exercise. This is repeated until you either pass out or die!
Because of their habitat, chimps spend a large amount of time hanging around – from trees – with their arms. This and their ridiculously dense bones make them incredibly strong! Swinging and jumping from tree to tree ensures their arms, chest, lats and back muscles are always toned.
Exercise like a chimp:
Box jumps aren’t just for CrossFit enthusiasts in Fourways. Plyometric moves are an excellent way to build muscle and up your fitness as they force you to use every muscle in your legs. Incorporating these with pull-ups and weight training, which increases bone density, will have you ripped in no time, not to mention #BeachReady
Named the “river horse” by the Greeks, hippos, despite their size, are amazing swimmers and combine skill with a certain amount of grace despite their clumsy appearance. These mammoth animals can hold their breath underwater for up to five minutes while waiting for their prey.
Exercise like a hippo:
Swimming has many benefits but what we love is the fact that it's a full-body workout that not only increases your cardio fitness but tones every muscle of your body, and with minimal risk of injury. If you are late to the party and are only now working on your end-of-year holiday beach body, start doing some lengths in the pool before or after your workouts, and see the difference. #BlacksCanSwim
We have all seen the footage of lions stretching like trainee yoga instructors. This gets them warmed up and helps increase blood circulation.
Exercise like a lion:
Any trainer worth his or her salt will tell you that stretching is just as important as engaging in the actual exercise. Warming up is key before you start any form of exercise to loosen your joints, kick-start the flow of blood to the muscles and increase your heart rate. Stretching after a session helps reduce muscle tightness which lessens the stiffness and pain felt hours after a workout, and helps muscles recover at a faster rate.