The Science Behind Animal Flow

The Science Behind Animal Flow

Animal Flow is not just fun – it is also grounded in sound scientific principles. Here are some recent peer-reviewed, published studies which specifically used Animal Flow movements.


We’re excited to share this free webinar with researcher Jeffrey Buxton, PhD. Dr. Buxton discusses his recently published study, “The Effects of a Novel Quadrupedal Movement Training Program on Functional Movement, Range of Motion, Muscular Strength, and Endurance,” which demonstrated numerous positive results for individuals following an Animal Flow protocol. In this Webinar, Dr. Buxton presents the study, with suggestions for applications of the findings.

Quadrupedal movement training (QMT) is a form of bodyweight training incorporating animal poses, transitions, and crawling patterns to reportedly improve fitness. This type of training may improve multiple facets of fitness, unfortunately, little evidence exists to support commercial claims and guide practitioners in the best use of QMT. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to assess the impact of a commercially available QMT program on functional movement, dynamic balance, range of motion, and upper body strength and endurance.

Forty-two active college-age (19.76 6 2.10 years) subjects (males 5 19, females 5 23) were randomly assigned to a QMT (n 5 21) or control (CON) (n 5 21) group for 8 weeks. Quadrupedal movement training consisted of 60-minute classes performed 23·wk21 in addition to regular physical activity. Active range of motion, Functional Movement Screen (FMS), Y-Balance Test (YBT), handgrip strength, and push-up endurance were assessed before and after the intervention. The QMT group showed significantly greater improvements than the CON group in FMS composite score (1.6261.53 vs. 0.3361.15, p50.004) and FMS advanced movements (0.8160.87 vs. 0.0160.71, p50.002) and fundamental stability (0.57 6 0.75 vs. 0.05 6 0.50, p 5 0.011), along with hip flexion, hip lateral rotation, and shoulder extension (p , 0.05). No significant differences between groups were observed for dynamic balance or upper body strength and endurance.

Our results indicate that QMT can improve FMS scores and various active joint ranges of motion. Quadrupedal movement training is a viable alternative form of training to improve whole-body stabilization and flexibility.

Full article citation:

Buxton JD, Prins PJ, Miller MG, Moreno A, Welton GL, Atwell AD, Talampas TR, Elsey GE. The Effects of a Novel Quadrupedal Movement Training Program on Functional Movement, Range of Motion, Muscular Strength, and Endurance. J Strength Cond Res. 2020 Oct 5. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000003818. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33021583.

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The Study:

Pain experienced by the subjects was assessed using the Visual Analog Scale–a self-assessment where participants identify their current pain level on a scale of 0-10. Core stability was assessed by measuring the duration spent in various positions.

Test subjects completed 16 weeks of Animal Flow training, which included two 50-minute sessions each week. The sessions consisted of a combination of Level 1 AF movements from all components: Wrist Mobilizations, Static Activations, Traveling Forms, Switches and Transitions, and Form Specific Stretches.

Subjects in the Animal Flow group saw decreased pain and increased time held in all positions while the control group reported higher levels of pain and decreased time spent in all positions.

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Author: Eve Kabanova

The Study:

The goal was to observe any improvements in the physical abilities and motivation of subjects. [Eve Kabanova] was particularly interested to see if a regular Animal Flow practice would influence the adoption of a healthier lifestyle and their involvement in other physical activity.

[Eve] had two experimental groups (EG):

EG-1: 12 women, aged 30-35, fitness enthusiasts (beginners)

EG-2: 5 women, aged 30-35, former professional athletes (acrobatics, athletics, rhythmic gymnastics, bodybuilding and volleyball). Both Eve and her scientific director were two of the subjects in this group, along with three other Certified Instructors.

They conducted a two-month training period with both groups which included:

One x 2-hour training session with a Master Instructor every Sunday.

One x homework (HW) submission after each session (submitted by Thursday, and resubmitted by Saturday if corrections were required).

All EG-2 subjects had an additional HW piece that was to be submitted via video each week. This task was taken from the Animal Flow Certified Instructor Facebook group and varied in duration and complexity from week-to-week.

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This study conducted in 2016 also used Animal Flow movements as the studied intervention protocol:

Introduction: Exercise, and in particular balance and coordination related activities such as dance, appear to have positive effects on cognitive function, as well as neurodegenerative conditions such as dementia and Parkinson’s disease. Quadrupedal gait training is a movement system requiring coordination of all four limbs that has previously been associated with cognitive development in children. There is currently little research into the effect of complex QDP movements on cognitive function in adults.

Purpose: To determine the effects of a novel four-week quadrupedal gait training programme
on markers of cognitive function and joint reposition sense in healthy adults.

Methods: Twenty-two physically active sports science students (15 male and 7 female) were divided into two groups: a training group (TG) and a control group (CG). All participants completed the Wisconsin Card Sorting Task (WCST) and were tested for joint reposition sense before and after a four-week intervention, during which time the TG completed a series of progressive and challenging quadrupedal movement training sessions.

Results: Participants in the TG showed significant improvements in the WCST, with improvements in perseverative errors, non-perseverative errors, and conceptual level response. This improvement was not found in the CG. Joint reposition sense also improved for the TG, but only at 20 degrees of shoulder flexion.
Conclusions: Performance of a novel, progressive, and challenging task, requiring the coordination of all 4 limbs, has a beneficial impact on cognitive flexibility, and in joint reposition sense, although only at the specific joint angle directly targeted by the training. The findings are consistent with other studies showing improvements in executive function and joint reposition sense following physical activity.

Full article citation:

Matthews, Martyn & Yusuf, Mohamed & Doyle, Caron & Thompson, Catherine. (2016). Quadrupedal movement training improves markers of cognition and joint repositioning. Human Movement Science. 47. 70-80. 10.1016/j.humov.2016.02.002.

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Background: A new fitness trend incorporates stability exercises that challenges trunk muscles and introduces crawling as an exercise, but has yet to be investigated for muscle activity.

Purpose: To compare the effects of static (STA), stationary (STN), and traveling (TRV) trunk exercises on muscle activation of the rectus abdominis, rectus femoris, external oblique, and erector spinae using surface electromyography (EMG).

Methods: Seventeen recreationally active women (mean age ± SD = 22.4 ± 2.4 years, body mass 62.9 ± 6.9 kg, height 165.1 ± 5.8 cm) and twenty-three men (23.6 ±3.9 years, 83.2 ±17.1 kg, 177.1 ± 9.1 cm) volunteered to participate in this study. Subjects performed maximal voluntary contractions for normalization of each muscle’s EMG activity. They then performed the three exercises in random order for thirty seconds each with a two-minute rest in between. Results: For the rectus abdominis, STA was significantly lower than STN (P = 0.003) and TRV (P = 0.001). For the external oblique, STA was significantly lower than STN (P = 0.001) and TRV (P = 0.001) and STN was significantly greater than TRV (P = 0.009). For the erector spinae and rectus femoris, STA was significantly lower than STN (P = 0.001) and TRV (P = 0.001)

Conclusions: There was greater muscle activation in all muscles tested in the stationary and traveling exercises versus the static. Strength and conditioning coaches and allied health professionals could potentially use stationary and traveling forms of trunk stabilization exercises as a viable strategy to increase muscle activation.

Full citation: 

T. Pyka, D., B. Costa, P., W. Coburn, J., & Brown, L. (2017). Effects of Static, Stationary, and Traveling Trunk Exercises on Muscle Activation. International Journal of Kinesiology and Sports Science, 5(4), 26-32. doi:

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