HIIT Zoo: Top 10 animal-inspired bodyweight moves

If this lovely spell of sunshine has given you the outdoor exercise bug then these animal-inspired exercises might just be for you.

These full body moves require absolutely no equipment; just you, some grass and your best animal noises!

I’ve put together a selection of exercises that will get your heart racing, provide a good bodyweight resistance workout and are fun to boot…especially with a friend!

Try adding any of these moves into your own workout to freshen things up. Or you could try completing a circuit of 5-6 moves; working for 30 seconds with 30 seconds rest in between each exercise. Complete the circuit a minimum of 2 times but go for 3 or even 4 times through if you can.

Remember to warm up first and stretch at the end. Make sure you drink plenty of water throughout your session and it’s probably best to pick a shady spot. Also, remember to breathe throughout each move! It sounds obvious but so many people forget!


1. Starfish jumps

A killer version of a jumping jack.

Great for cardio and getting the heart thumping during a HIIT circuit. No explanation needed!

2. Monkey jumps

A deep squat followed by a tuck jump.

Keeping the momentum and pace is key to making this move one of the hardest you’ll do! Your legs and bum will burn, but grit your teeth and push through!

3. Inchworm

Like a ‘walk-out’ but your feet end up following too.

As you move across the floor on hands and feet, take your time and make sure that your legs remain as straight as possible (you’ll feel the stretch on your hamstrings) and pull your tummy in tight. Keep your breathing controlled. This tests the muscular endurance of your core and your flexibility.

4. Donkey kicks

A cardio and resistance exercise combined.

Your arms, shoulders and core are stabilising your whole body throughout this move and the quick bursts of kicking raise the heart rate. You could also try kicking out and back for a more intense version.

5. Frog jumps

A deep squat with a floor tap, followed by an explosive jump and reach.

As with the monkey jumps, this move is killer when performed with momentum and with proper form. You will find that you move forwards slightly as you progress and that’s fine. Just make sure you’re touching the floor and pushing off explosively with each move.

6. Bear crawl

Closely replicating our quadruped ‘friends’, walking on all fours is harder than it looks. It’s a great test of coordination, core strength and balance.

It’s important that you pull your tummy in tight and contract your legs and bum to give extra stability as you move. Start with knees directly under your hips but not touching the floor and arms under your shoulders. You’ll move on your toes and hands; opposite hand and feet moving forward in a controlled way. You could progress in one direction for half the time and then try to reverse the move and crawl backwards.

7. Crab crawl

This one is similar to the bear crawl but there’s more emphasis on the arms, particularly the triceps (backs of the arms).

Start with hands pointing in the direction you’re moving, directly under the shoulders and feet pointing forwards, under your knees. Dip your bum and move opposite arm and leg forward, keeping your torso as stable as possible. This again, tests balance, coordination and core strength, as well as working the arms and shoulders.

8. Bird dogs

This one is deceivingly tricky when performed slowly and with correct form. It’s a core stability exercise that works more of the important stabilisers than a sit up.

Make sure that you adopt a stance that feels stable to begin with; hands under shoulders and knees under hips. Keep a neutral spine (no dips or humps), pull the tummy in tight and breathe through it. Opposite leg and arm should be slowly raised so that they are almost parallel to the floor; hold for at least 4 seconds, then slowly return to the starting position. Repeat with the opposite leg and arm. You’ll be testing your balance, coordination and core muscular endurance.

9. Spider(man) planks

Ok so I’ve cheated a bit here… I could have called it a spider plank but you’d have seen straight through it!

The trick to this move is to maintain a tight core, steady hips and a neutral spine throughout. The only things that are moving are your legs, as they drive out and forward, knee first, towards the outside of your arms. Take your time, it’s not a race. The true tester with this move is how stable you can keep your trunk whilst moving your legs. You’ll feel the sides of your torso (obliques) start to burn as you side crunch.

10. Dead bug

This one looks relaxing. A perfect end to the workout you may think. Well you couldn’t be more wrong.

Make sure that you press your back into the floor as you lift up both legs and arms vertically into position. Taking your time, and under complete control, slowly lower opposite arm and leg down so that they become parallel to the floor again (not touching the floor). Slowly lift both back into a vertical position and repeat on the opposite sides. Make sure you pull your tummy tight and remember to breathe!


If those exercises have brought out the animal in you, then give them a go and like the post!

I’d love to see your comments too. Thanks everyone!

3 thoughts on “HIIT Zoo: Top 10 animal-inspired bodyweight moves

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