I’ve always been fascinated by wildlife and I hold great admiration for their raw strength, power, agility, and grace. I’ve been lucky enough to have been up close to many of these wonderful athletic animals, and I believe we can learn a lot from wildlife and nature about how the world works, even in the ‘civilised society’ we live in today. One of those things animals can teach us a thing or two about, of course, is athleticism.
In our quest to be the best athletes possible, we can look to these beasts who were making gainz a long time before humans formalised exercise into neat little packages that can be sold in modern day health clubs. So here it is – in no particular order, my list of jacked and athletic animals, and what they can teach humans. Enjoy.
Chimpanzees, or chimps, are highly cerebral primates proposed to be the closest to human beings in terms of genetic make-up, and referred to by some as our ‘cousins’. Chimps are capable of all sorts of very intelligent things, but one thing that doesn’t surprise me at all are the incredibly thick, powerful upper bodies these guys possess – dat chimp muscle.
Chimpanzees are partly arborial creatures of course (meaning they spend a lot of the time in trees), and therefore they are constantly swinging, jumping, and pulling themselves up tree branches. If we spent more than 50% of our day doing pull-ups of all types, we would surely develop highly muscular arms, shoulders, lats, and rippling, mountainous upper backs too.
Chimps possess vice-like grip strength, and are capable of tearing limbs off other animals (including humans) like it was paper – they’ve been estimated to be approximately 5-7 times stronger than human beings.
Chimps have highly dense bones which helps to explain some of their ridiculous strength (FYI – lifting heavy improves bone density, don’t neglect it), and they are even capable of sprinting explosively (but don’t get much opportunity to do so in their natural habitat).
Olympic gymnasts, who are balancing and pulling their bodyweight all the time, are also densely-muscled – they, like chimps, recognise the importance of bodyweight movements!
To be honest, I hate kangaroos. They seem extremely aggravating, are irritating to look at, and I hate their faces. But I’m not going to lie.. kangaroos are hench. From birth, male kangaroos (aka ‘bucks’) are constantly scuffling and wrestling with other males, and as they grow larger in size this fighting becomes more aggressive and serious.
Roos even kickbox by balancing on their hefty tails and whacking their opponents with their very well-built legs. The winners of these scuffs are usually the ones with the most powerful arms and legs. Kangaroos have massive upper bodies, particularly the guns – check these out.
They can even jump up to three meters tall and 13.5 meters long at high speeds – they are ridiculously explosive.
As an athlete, you should use lower reps to work your fast-twitch muscle fibres and improve your own explosive power.
Also, you can learn from these extremely annoying animals and engage in some kind sport outside of the gym – preferably something that involves physical contact, such as cricket Brazilian jiu-jitsu, boxing, football, American football etc.. it will develop your overall athletic qualities and physique more than just lifting weights will.
The majestic panthera leo, king of the beasts. Ferocious, volatile, and intimidating. Everybody knows that lionesses do most of the work in a pride and that male lions are extremely lazy. They sleep and sunbathe pretty much most of the day while the females go out hunting. The males usually just remain at home ‘protecting’ their territory.
Yet everybody respects and fears them in equal measure, and the sight of a roaring, angry, thickly-maned lion is a sight to behold. No list of athletic, jacked animals would be complete without lions. Lions are the daddy of them all.
Lions are incredibly brawny, strapping felines (though contrary to popular belief, tigers are actually bigger), and top of the food chain for obvious reasons. Supremely dominant predators, lions are power athletes in its purest forum. They might be lazy, but when it comes to crunch time, lions showcase rapid speed and aggression in pursuit of their prey.
Depending on the availability of prey, lions may sometimes not eat for several days, and when they finally capture a meal, feast unashamedly, consuming up to 30 pounds of meat in one sitting. In a way, you could say they practice a form of intermittent fasting. Follow the way of the lion – sprint, fast, and eat BIG. Grow a beard too if you can.
As you may have guessed by now, big cats are definitely my favourite wild animals. The tiger is the most beautiful and intriguing of all in my opinion, but I’ve included the jaguar instead – every bit a rival to the beauty and hunting prowess of the tiger.
Jaguars, similar in resemblance to the leopard, are larger, more muscular apex predators residing in the jungles of the Americas. They possess power, agility, and are very, very swift – their athletic prowess includes jumping, climbing, crawling, and swimming. Jaguars are unparalleled when it comes to the split-second pounce. Speed kills. Literally.
Furthermore, once they’ve slayed their victims (which are usually extremely large animals), they have the power to carry them into water while swimming, and up trees where they consume their feast for the day.
Jaguars provide us with a great example to follow – they combine outstanding speed, fleet-of-foot, suppleness, and predatory ability, all in one package. Don’t just limit yourself to one style of weight training or conditioning. This is something I’m guilty of too.
Instead of using barbells all the time, try a strongman workout – carrying yokes, flipping tires, farmers’ walks etc. Instead of going sprinting, go swimming. Challenge your body in different ways. We’re designed to move. Work on your mobility. Try a handstand push-up instead of an overhead press. You get the drill.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this and maybe learned a thing or two in the process. I realise that there are obvious genetic reasons that make animals the way they are, but you should also realise that the physical activites you perform on a regular basis will develop your physique in specific ways.
Now with that said.. go swing on some monkey bars.