The Gorilla Walk (Anabolic Cardio Exercise)

Gorilla walking upright like a human being.
A gorilla at the Philadelphia Zoo walking upright like a man (video).

I’m a strong believer that exercise is a vital part of a healthy lifestyle, especially for those of us who live sedentary lives. Exercise gets blood flowing, releases happy chemicals, enhances emotional processing, conveys a sense of achievement, and makes us feel better about life. I haven’t always been a big fan of cardio. I played soccer in high school but running isn’t something I do for fun. I also prefer a muscular physique, so most of my time in the gym is spent lifting weights. However, I also know from experience and research that cardio is healthy for the mind and body. As a result, I incorporated a simple, intense exercise into my routine that let’s me have my cake and eat it too. I’ve termed it the gorilla walk. The gorilla walk is both aerobic (cardio) and anaerobic/anabolic (muscle-building)–the perfect marriage of cardio and resistance exercise.

Disclaimer: The gorilla walk is potentially dangerous, especially if you do it on a treadmill. Do not try this at home.

What I need for the gorilla walk is a space to walk fast/jog lightly, a backpack, and weights (plates and dumbbells). Inside, I like to use a treadmill and an old sturdy backpack. I started out with a 25 LB plate in the backpack and two 2-3 LB dumbbells in each hand. With a dumbbell in each hand, I like to jog as usual, with my hands moving up and down rhythmically. I want the backpack and dumbbells to be heavy enough that I can move 4-4.5 MPH for no more than 10-20 minutes. More weight=greater intensity=bigger gains. I can experiment by going up and down in weight and altering hand positions. For example, I sometimes take a break from the backpack, increase the weight of the dumbbells, and place them overhead or in a curling position. The goal is to get my whole body moving and building muscle at the same time.

The genius of the gorilla walk lies in its ability to activate the entire body. The backpack builds up the lats and shoulders, and the dumbbells work on arms, chest, and overall upper body definition depending on where you hold them. The legs and core work hard moving and balancing the weight. The gorilla walk is a cross-fit style work-out. It’s extremely stress-relieving and mindfulness-promoting, and efficiently consolidates many exercises into one. It can be good for losing weight, putting on muscle, and experiencing the therapeutic benefits of exercise.

Below are links to the treadmill and adjustable dumbbells I use, and a weighted military-style vest that’s perfect for this exercise. With a proper vest, I can do the gorilla walk with more weight than a backpack and look a little less ridiculous in a public gym.

Are you a fan of the gorilla walk? You can’t knock it it until you try it.


Weighted Military-Style Vest:

Adjustable Dumbbells:

25-LB Plate:

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