Kettlebell training and Animal Flow may seem like polar opposites — one is an explosive, powerful burst and the other a smooth, primal tango — but in actuality, the two are quite complimentary. “Combining kettlebell and Animal Flow exercises allows you to get more out of the kettlebell moves,” says Eric Leija, Onnit coach and kettlebell specialist and creator of this workout. “The Animal Flow moves fire the core musculature, which is essential in kettlebell technique.”
Leija paired six moves into two supersets and a five-minute AMRAP finisher. Each pair begins with a kettlebell or bodyweight movement followed by an Animal Flow exercise. “This gets your heart pumping for conditioning work and fat burning and will create a strong foundation,” he says. “Over time, you’ll improve your overall athleticism, coordination and body awareness.”
For the supersets, choose a lighter-weight kettlebell — between 10 and 25 pounds — and complete the moves back-to-back. “Stay in the eight to 12 rep range for the kettlebell movements to work on strength without fatiguing,” Leija explains. “Then during the two minutes of Animal Flow, work on perfecting your form without rushing. Quality over quantity.” Between each superset, take plenty of rest so you are ready to give your maximum effort in the next round, Leija advises.
You’ll finish up with a five-minute AMRAP (as many rounds/reps as possible) of bodyweight pause squats and sprawls to squat jumps. Here, you should work steadily and consistently, taking minimal breaks for the duration of time.
Kettlebell Press to Windmill
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your right foot turned to the side. Hold a kettlebell in your left hand at your shoulder, elbow down. Extend your arm to press the kettlebell straight up, then lock your arm here and turn your head to look up at it the whole time. Slowly bend sideways, pressing your hips outward toward the left as you reach your right hand to the inside of your right foot, bending your knees slightly, if necessary, to achieve maximal depth. Reverse the steps to return to the start. Do all reps on one side and then switch.
• Trainer Tip: Make sure your core is engaged and your ribs are not flared as you press the kettlebell overhead.
Get onto all fours with your hands underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips. Tuck your toes under, then press down into your hands and toes to lift your knees off the floor a few inches — just enough so your shins are parallel to the ground. From here, lift your left hand, pivot on your left foot, and open your body to the left side as you extend your right leg through underneath you and draw your left elbow back. Pause briefly and then return to the start. Continue, alternating sides.
• Trainer Tip: Stay as low to the ground as you can, and keep your base arm straight.
Kettlebell Row to Cossack Squat
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and place a kettlebell between your feet. Kick your hips back, then bend your knees slightly as you reach down to grab the kettlebell with your left hand. Maintaining a straight back, perform a one-arm row by driving your elbow upward while keeping your arm close to your side. Lower the kettlebell to the start, and then as you stand up, clean it to your shoulder by driving your left elbow upward and then flipping your elbow and wrist underneath it so it lands softly on the back of your arm at shoulder level. Next, take a large step to the left, bending your left knee deeply while keeping your right leg straight, turning it to the side and lifting your toes, foot flexed. Reverse the steps to return to standing, replace the weight between your feet and repeat on the other side.
• Trainer Tip: Sit back with your hips on the Cossack squat to maintain balance and alignment.
Alternating Crab Reach
Sit on the floor with your knees bent and your feet hip-width apart, and place your hands behind your hips with your fingers facing away from your glutes. Press down into your hands and feet to lift your glutes off the floor a few inches. From here, bring your right arm in front of your face, elbow bent, then bridge your hips and reach your arm over and across to the left side, looking down at your left hand and reaching your right fingers for the floor. Return to the start and continue, alternating sides.
• Trainer Tip: Press your knees out as you bridge up with your hips to get a little higher.
Bodyweight Pause Squat
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes turned out slightly and arms at your sides. Kick your hips back and bend your knees to lower into a squat, descending until your thighs are just about parallel to the floor and lifting your arms in front of you for balance. Hold here for two slow counts, then return to standing.
• Trainer Tip: Keep your chest lifted throughout to keep the weight in your heels.
Sprawl to Squat Jump
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and then lower into a squat — back straight, focus forward, arms in front of you with your elbows bent in an athletic “ready” position; this is your start. Place your hands on the floor and quickly jump your feet behind you into a sprawl, then jump them back underneath you and quickly extend your legs and hips to leap explosively into the air as high as you can. Land softly and drop right back into the starting squat to perform the next rep.
• Trainer Tip: Consciously breathe during this move as you go from squat to sprawl to squat to jump. And remember that slow is smooth, smooth is fast!