Basics of The Ido Portal Training Method

Ido Portal

 

Ido Portal

{Photo Credit:  www.idoportal.com}

Ido Portal is everywhere on the internet these days.  There is no shortage of Ido Portal movement videos on YouTube and commentary from bloggers and podcasters regarding his views on the health and wellness industry.

[I do not speak for Ido Portal in any way.  Ido is a man with his own original thoughts and ideas.  Anything I write or discuss on this blog is my interpretation of information he’s published on his social media page, his old blog, Youtube interviews and various other sources.]

My background…

I have a deep background in strength and conditioning.  It’s traditional in every sense of the word.  Probably too traditional in fact.  It’s taken years to drop my guard on these traditional ways and open up to other movement training philosophies.  Old habits truly die hard.  

From the moment I bumped into Ido’s work, I knew something was different about his philosophies.  The Ido Portal Method seemed to be an open platform, subject to change, subject to revision if there was a better way.  The movement standards were much higher than anything else I’d read about before.

Since my initial exposure, I’ve begun the slow process of digesting Ido’s information,  integrating many of his beginner movement drills into my own workouts.  The shift in my movement I.Q. has been profound (in a good way), despite not committing 100% to his programming.  

I’ve also played around with my own variations of his famous Lizard Crawl…IMG_4167 

It’s been humbling, frustrating and exciting to explore new realms of movement.

Here’s my interpretation of the “movement culture”.

Ido Portal Training Methodology…

If you’re looking to get the summarized view (“movement” is a hard topic to summarize) of what drives Ido Portal’s movement methodology, it’s generally accepted to resemble something like the following:

Isolation—>  Integration—> Improvisation

Step 1:  Isolation

Step 2:  Integration

Step 3: Improvisation

However, of what I currently comprehend about Ido’s training philosophies, the transition from isolation to integration to improvisation serves as the fundamental backbone of the movement system.

It’s a higher standard and a logical progression.  Here is how each section can be described further…

Isolation

Isolation based movement for Ido Portal is what’s being taught by most traditional personal trainers and strength and conditioning coaches, although this is slowly shifting.  Squats, deadlifts, chin-ups, pull-ups, glute ham raises, unilateral training (single arm push ups, pistol squats, etc) rows, planks, crawling, hip hinging etc… are all considered isolation exercises.

Bicep curls, triceps push-downs, “skull crushers” and crunches are seemingly child’s play.  Good luck spotting them anywhere in the Ido Portal Method catalog of exercises/drills.  

Use the right tool for the job of course, but I haven’t seen a single machine based exercise in his programming.

For Ido, the translation of isolation is simple:  Isolation = movement patterns

Grey Cook’s life’s work is centered around establishing better movement patterns.  Better squat patterns, lunge patterns, rotational core stability patterns, etc.  The Functional Movement Screen is a fantastic movement screening system, but it’s incredibly fixated on isolation movements.  Anyways, elaboration on movement patterns will have to wait for another article.  

The lightbulb moment and humbling part for me initially was the lowest rung of Ido’s movement classification system represents what are commonly viewed as the highest rung of the ladder for most anyone else.  This is a positive shift for the health industry.

The Ido Portal Method makes stopping number based training (adding more weight, doing more reps, finishing the same amount of work faster, etc) look mediocre and complacent.  

Once you know, you cannot unknow.  That’s how I feel at the moment.  To each their own of course, but it’s important to understand that training methods like this exist.  Methods that are highly effective and systematically achievable through proper guided progression.  

Your relationship with your physical practice might be different than mine, which is fine, let’s honor and celebrate this uniqueness.  That being said, I feel a curiosity, maybe more of a duty to explore the outer fringes of my own movement capacity.  

Ido has swept the dust off this sort of thinking and deserves credit for spearheading the movement.

Integration

Integration is the where we begin to form sentences from the words (isolation).  A squat is no longer just a squat.  The squat is a movement pattern that flows into other movement patterns, or maybe a series of movement patterns.  There is a heavy capoeira influence in Ido’s teachings, no doubt about it.  

Here is a great video example of what I’m referring to:

I might sound like a psychotic fan, but this stuff is a revolutionary paradigm shift in fitness.  Something  I believe the world will slowly beginning warm up to.

Nike has…

Ido Portal Nike

Ido often refers to himself as a “mover”, thus the name of his crazy expensive yet popular and consistently sold out training camps, “MovementX”.

It’s been said a picture is worth a thousand words, maybe this video is worth a million.  Another example of integration…

Integration builds on the physical preparation from isolation training.  Inside of the integration portion of Ido’s training philosophy is pre-planned movement sequences.  Think about a dancer that has a choreographed dance routine.  It’s still a very difficult routine, but it’s planned, you know what’s coming next.  

I’ve probably watched the above “Locomotion Research” video 50+ times and it never seems to get old watching someone move like water.  All of the movement sequences shown in the video are difficult, especially if you think you’re just going to throw on your running shoes, drop down and flow it out as a party trick.  Not happening.

You’ll be humbled by the amount of integrated mobility, stability, and strength needed to complete the moves.  It’s 3-Dimensional movement requiring a level of proprioception, range of motion and muscular firing most people have never experienced.  

Improvisation…

Ido has commented on numerous podcasts that improvised movement represents the highest form of human movement.  I couldn’t agree more.

Dominating isolation helps the transition to integration.  With hours of practice, one will arrive at the final progression of Ido’s movement philosophy… improvisation.

World-class gymnasts (pound for pound the strongest people on the planet) aren’t expressing improvised movement during their competition routines.  It’s all been practiced and choreographed prior.  I’m not trying to take anything away from gymnasts (because they represent the top 1%), I am just bringing to light the fact that they are executing routines that have been practiced hundreds, if not thousands of times before it’s viewed by the public eye.

Regarding improvisational movement, Ido has mentioned several times he thinks there is a dimension to be explored beyond it.  

Where do we go after improvisation?  Ido wasn’t quite sure, but the feeling is that something else exists…

Bringing it home…

Ido Portal represents an incredible shift in the lens with which we view and define fitness.  Humans are engineered to move (climb, run, jump, roll, carry, etc) and I think there is an emerging sector of people who want to experience the thrill of moving again.

Traditional physical fitness methods aren’t going anywhere soon, nor should they.  

If isolation represents the foundation on which higher levels of movement are built, we still need to be encouraging the execution these basics of isolation.  There is still a place for technique driven power, strength, stability, and mobility based exercises/drills.

A stronger, more stable, more mobile, more resilient human is an improved human.  

Since this initial evaluation of Ido Portal’s training methodology, the fans are still waiting for published work from Ido.  Unfortunately, nothing yet.  

But, there are other movement programs to explore, which will bring you very close Ido’s teachings.

After sifting through dozens, I now promote only 1 other movement training program for building up locomotion patterns: Animal Flow.

Animal Flow: Isolation, Integration, and Improvisation

Screen Shot 2017-06-02 at 6.43.52 AM

Animal Flow is a brilliant ground-based bodyweight training system that teaches many of the elements you’ll find inside The Ido Portal Method.  Particularly the locomotion patterns.  

* Of course, Animal Flow is not Ido Portal Method.  

That being said, the animal influenced locomotion exercises found in Animal Flow is very similar to what Ido Portal is teaching at the base level.  

Ground-based, body weight locomotion drills. 

[Another thing… and this isn’t a jab at Ido by any means, but he didn’t invent his training methodology from scratch.  The Ido Portal Method is a melting pot of the best movement ideas from around the world, combined and refined into a system.  Even the documentary “Just Move” talks about Ido traveling the world to learn from the best in different movement sectors.  He is a brilliant mind made up of a collection of movement ideas.]  

So, if you’re new to movement training, Animal Flow is an ideal place to start.  The Ido Portal Method, as great as it is, hasn’t produced a training program for the masses to practice.  You could train in private with Ido, if you’ve got $2000+ to fork over.  The fact is there are GREAT programs teaching similar ideas for a fraction of the cost.  

As Ido commented in his recent movie premiere, very little of what he’s teaching is new.  It’s merely absorbing, improving and integrating ideas from pre-existing movement disciplines found across the globe.  

Much like The Ido Portal Method, movements are initially practiced in isolation and later strung together to create movement sequences and flows.  The tempo of workouts can be adjusted to create a cardio-strength type training effect or a dynamic yoga-like experience. 

I stumbled onto Animal Flow not long after finding The Ido Portal Method.  I was initially drawn to Animal Flow because how well it was structured.  It’s completely turn-key, loaded with progressions and regressions.    

Most of all, it represented a vehicle to help me gain an understanding of the value of body weight ground-based training.   

Mike Fitch (creator) also peaked my interest as his movement capacity is world-class.  

Over the past few months, I’ve cherry-picked basic exercises and movement sequences from Animal Flow and worked them hard.  Exercises like Beast, Crab, and Scorpions are now a part of every workout, serving as either a warm-up or as the workout itself.


The first few sessions sucked, mainly rotational transitions.  My spine was stiff as hell from years of “bracing”, “rigid neutral spine”, stability training, etc.  However, it is amazing how quickly the body adapts to what is consistently practiced.  Spinal flexibility is improving every single day. 

The confidence in my movement has increased 10-fold as my body understands previously unfamiliar positions and locomotion drills.  

If you have even an ounce of interest in the buzz surrounding Ido Portal’s work, Animal Flow is worth an evaluation as a convenient, train anywhere, cost-effective alternative. 

Here is a link to the Animal Flow website.

 Global Bodyweight Training

Screen Shot 2017-12-11 at 6.12.15 AM

The Bodyweight Athlete Program teaches you to perform advanced calisthenic movements.  This is a brilliantly structured fitness training program for anyone interested in exploring the potency of bodyweight training.  

Following the Ido Portal progression of movement, Global Bodyweight Training reinforces many of the time-tested movements gymnasts and movers have leveraged for generations.  

Skill progression is primarily focused on these pinnacle moves:

  • Muscle Ups
  • Handstand Push Ups
  • Single Arm Push Ups
  • Single Arm Body Rows
  • Pistol Squats
  • Handstands
  • L-Sits
  • Human Flag (aka: body levers or Dragon Flags)
  • Back Levers

You do not have to be an advanced mover to make gains with this program, which is why following detailed exercise progressions are so powerful.

The value of The Bodyweight Athlete Program is in it’s start-to-finish layout: a complete training system.

Rapid and sustainable gains are made by following smart training SYSTEMS, staying disciplined and sticking to the plan.

Exercise progressions in The Bodyweight Athlete were carefully chosen to keep people progressing (gaining strength, stability and expanding movement capacity).  

Teachings within Bodyweight Athlete include: mobility work, self myofascial release, core training and breath work.  All extremely important to keeping your body injury free and performing optimally.  

I was impressed with the nod given to the value of breath work.  Daily breath training is an overlooked, often game-changing practice.  

Here is a link to The Bodyweight Athlete Program website.

 

Subscribe

If you’ve enjoyed the material here, make sure you check out other M(eaux)tion content:

 

 

Cheers to the Basics of The Ido Portal Training Method…

KG

SaveSave

Advertisements

The Many Ways to Use Animal Flow in Workouts

Animal Flow, bodyweight training, Motion

Scorpion

“Hmmm… Animal Flow looks a bit moving yoga. Then again, it also looks a bit like Capoeira. Well, maybe not. Maybe it looks like gymnastics. Yes, definitely gymnastics. Wait… there’s another yoga exercise, now it looks like yoga again.”

These are exact thoughts I had watching Mike Fitch demonstrating a movement flow several years ago.


Watching Mike flow seamlessly around the empty room captivated me. Even to the untrained eye, it’s unmistakable when you see someone who has complete dominance (aka control) over their body. When you see it, you know it.

I crashed head first into Ido Portal Method and Animal Flow at about the same time. Which makes sense now since they are both rooted deeply in bodyweight based movement. 

At the time, Ido Portal was growing at breakneck speed, but he had not (and still hasn’t) packaged his movement system into a product. Animal Flow did have a product, which it has now updated into Animal Flow 2.0.

Crawling patterns and primal movement were gaining traction as validated tactics to reset one’s body, improve strength, stability, core integration, body controls, yadda yadda yadda. In reflection, it makes sense Animal Flow caught my eye because Traveling Forms (Ape, Beast, Crab) are crawling locomotion patterns. For branding purposes, Animal Flow refers to these three basic forms as “animal-like” exercises which they are, but they are also crawling patterns.

Piggybacking the opening paragraph of this blog post, the most important point I could make about integrating Animal Flow into your workouts is this: Shape, mold and make it function any way that suits you.

Animal Flow is a hybrid training system constructed from many other movement disciplines, therefore it can serve you any way you need it to.

Cardio conditioning? Move fast, aggressive, lots of transitions, soft but quick floor contacts.

Recovery? Full range of motion, move slow, controlled, breathe deep, hold positions, find the stretch.

Pre-Workout Warm Up? Move through a full range of motion, activate hard at end range looking for expanded range, build the tempo up from slow to fast.

Animal Flow as the workout? Leverage lots of different tempos, explore many positions, make shapes, breathe, bring the heart rate up, lower it back down, improvise, etc.

Ground-based movement can serve an infinite number of purposes. How do you want it to serve your needs? That’s what I’d like you to keep in mind as you read through the rest of this article.

The purpose of this article is two-fold:

1) Share Animal Flow movement tactics with people who aren’t currently familiar.

2) Expand the application of Animal Flow exercises.

In we go…

I won’t pretend like it was love at first sight.

It took me a while to jump into Animal Flow. I was already working yoga steadily on non-workout days. Days when my body needed a rest but craved a sweat, range of motion, slow tempo and breath work. You know, the calming effect yoga is famous for.

Once I finally committed to mixing in Traveling Forms more seriously, I could immediately feel the difference. I felt more connected from my top half through my core to my bottom half. Shoulders opened up and felt more stable. General body awareness in space and control improved also. 

Stepping away from lifting is a major reason my body “opened up” and felt more fluid and connected. Pressing pause on lifting for several days if not several weeks (even months) is something that changed my entire perspective on daily physical activity. I recommend anyone who’s been a die-hard lifter to remove yourself from weight training for an extended period of time. Don’t stop exercising during this time, rather, seek out alternatives.

Animal Flow is a perfect place to start and explore.

Using Animal Flow exercises for Pre-Workout Warm-Up

Initially, I started by using Traveling Forms during my warm-up. Here is how I structured everything…

Pre-Workout Warm-Up (15-20 minutes)
Foam Roll + Thoracic Mobility Peanut Drills
Dynamic Stretching
Activation (using mini bands, wall slides, etc)
Animal Flow Traveling Forms (and maybe some jump rope)
The Workout

Yes, I still foam roll.  

After working through more traditional strength and conditioning stretches, activation and mobility, I’d start crawling for 3-8 minutes, sometimes followed by jumping rope, sometimes not.

In the beginning, 3 minutes of crawling patterns seemed daunting. After a month or so, I was crawling without rest for 8-10 minutes. Challenging? Hell yes, but the body acclimates quickly with consistent practice.

This pre-workout routine provided enough time to explore each of the three Traveling Forms in isolation. Isolating new exercises has always been my strategy. Isolating an exercise allows me to focus on the mechanics of the movement. 

Beast

Favoritism and familiarity lead me to practice Beast and Crab first. Beast is a prone crawling pattern (chest to the floor) and Crab is a supine crawling pattern (chest to the ceiling). Beast and Crab are essentially opposites, and therefore complement each other very well. The difference in body position changes the stress on the core and arms, front, back, and side of the body. Each movement also challenges active mobility differently.

Currently, my home gym allows for 12 feet of crawling in any one direction. Working with my training space, I would crawl 12 feet forward, reverse it and crawl 12 feet back. The first couple of workouts I programmed low volume and a much slower tempo crawl.

Beast – Crawl down and back 5 times (120 ft of crawling)
Crab – Crawl down and back 5 times (120 ft of crawling)

Start Workout.

From here, I ramped it up pretty quickly. I get antsy.

Combine Beast and Crab together, crawling down and back 6 times each without rest. This will take about 5-6 minutes to complete with a steady tempo.

Once I started to explore and understand Animal Flow Switches, I integrated them into my little Beast/Crab crawling medley…

Forward Beast + Under-Switch + Reverse Crab

Forward Crab + Under-Switch + Reverse Beast

Start Workout.

Rinse and repeat for time. This combination is simple and effective. Crawl down forward, switch, come back in reverse.

Next, I played around with longer duration for each Traveling Form, ramping it up to 1-minute per exercise before switching to the next…

Cycle 1-Minute per exercise of:
1-minute Beast
1-minute Crab
1-minute Beast
1-minute Crab

Start Workout.

… And so on.

I recommend working these patterns for as long as you like. Don’t overthink it. The risk of overdoing crawling is almost non-existent. Of course, if your plan is resistance training afterward, leave something in the tank for the training session.

Eventually, I introduced Lateral Traveling Ape to the pre-workout routine. Lateral Traveling Ape was my first real exposure to side-to-side locomotion. I struggled. What my mind’s eye thought I was doing was not what the playback on my iPhone camera showed. My technique was brutal. But the pattern was completely foreign.

I practiced Lateral Traveling Ape more incrementally than Beast or Crab, starting with two reps in one direction, two reps back to where I started. Rest and repeat. A smooth flowing Lateral Traveling Ape did not come easily for me.

Fast forward to current day, I’ll rip out pre-workout Traveling Forms almost in any structure I like. Lately, a medley I’ve been enjoying has been:

Cycle 8 minutes of:
Lateral Traveling Ape 16 ft
Switch
Beast Crawl 16 ft
Switch
Crab Crawl 16 ft

Start Workout.

Cycle through each of the 3 Traveling Forms for 8 minutes without rest. You’ll never feel more ready for a workout as you will after this effective little medley.

The badass thing about Animal Flow exercises is that your body will learn the mechanics quickly with diligent practice. Lateral Traveling Ape went from being an exercise I avoided to one of my favorites.

Personally, I think there are a lot of people dabbling with crawling patterns, which is great, but not including enough volume to see desired results. I’m not implying you’ve got crawl for a .5 mile every workout, but if you really want to get benefit from crawling patterns, play around with increasing the volume (without bending on technique).

A Tool for Recovery…

I love many aspects of yoga and typically feel great afterward, but I don’t always enjoy how stationary yoga is. Yoga sessions can feel rather restricting. Stay on the mat, you must never part with your mat.

Animal Flow takes features of yoga and transforms it into a dynamic practice. Essentially, you can move around the room until you’re ready to hold a pose or position.

Transitioning into an animal-like crawl to relocate or continue switching body positions to find the next hold.

Combining movement with elements of yoga creates a comprehensive training session pack with benefits from each.  Here is a simple recovery workout…

Lateral Traveling Ape x10 yards
Beast Crawl x10 yards
Downward Dog x 5 long breaths
Reverse Beast x10 yards
Downward Dog x 5 long breaths
Crab Crawl x 10 yards
Table-Top x 5 long breaths
Reverse Crab Crawl x10 yards
Crab with Reach x3 each side
*** Repeat the cycle for time or rounds***

This simple recovery workout seamlessly fuses yoga with Animal Flow. I’ve worked sequences like this for 20-30 minutes and felt absolutely fantastic afterward.

Or, give this more comprehensive recovery session a try, which includes drills from Kinstretch and Animal Flow.

Start with some basic Kinstretch drills to nourish the joints, finishing with some dynamic Animal Flow exercises to further open up and re-educate the body to cross-crawling patterns, reaching and positional switches.

Kinstretch:
Hip CAR’s x5 each leg
Spinal CAR’s x3
Shoulder CAR’s x5 each arm

… Followed by…

Animal Flow:
Beast Crawl x 10 yards
Reverse Beast Crawl x 10 yards
Crab Crawl x 10 yards
Reverse Crab Crawl x 10 yards
Lateral Traveling Ape x 10 yards
Crab with Reach x 5 each side
Slow Under-Switch x 5 each side
Scorpion Switch x 3 each
Slow Side Kick-Throughs x 3 each side
*** Repeat for 3-4 rounds ***

*** Sidenote: If you aren’t familiar with Kinstretch, check it out. It will change your life.

This will take 30 minutes of your time (or less). Move slowly through each of these exercises in descending order (top to bottom). Breathe deep with control, owning each movement.

This workout has a boatload of natural joint mobility and muscle activation work in it. Crab with Reach alone is a million dollar movement. If you’re activating extending the hips and reaching hard in the high position of each Scorpion Switch, there is likely to be some soreness the next day.

A gentle recovery workout like this helps to open up the joints, turn on important muscles, challenge multi-planar core stability and while getting a sweat without the beaten down feeling.

It might seem off-topic to list sweating as a benefit of a recovery workout, but considering the skin is the largest organ of the human body and sweating helps eliminate toxins from the body, support proper immune function and fight out toxin-related diseases.

Animal Flow and Kettlebells for Cardio

Virtually any exercise or series of exercises can be adjusted to create a cardio training effect.

Limiting rest, increasing the tempo and exercise complexity are all fantastic ways to further tax the cardiovascular system.

The recipe is simple: global bodyweight movements recruit more muscles plus higher intensity tempo with little or no rest in between elevates heart rate and respiration. Across time and with enough intensity, the body will head straight into oxygen debt. Huffing and puffing begin.

Ground-based movements are a total body experience. Combining various Traveling Forms (ape, beast, crab, lizard crawl variations, etc) and Switches creates a potent multi-planar training effect. 

Kick-Throughs…
Kick-Throughs are an excellent ground-based cardio exercise. Kick-Throughs, similar to any other Animal Flow exercise, can be scaled to suit any skill or fitness level. The explosive nature of faster tempo Kick-Through’s makes them ideal for cardio.

There are two primary variations: Forward and Side Kick-Throughs.

Many people will find Side Kick-Throughs to be a great entry into higher tempo ground-based movement.

Side Kick-Throughs how-to:
• Start in the quadruped position (static Beast), hands and feet on the floor, knees hovering an inch above the floor.
• Lift and slide one leg underneath your body as you pivot on the supporting foot.
• Reach with the sliding leg and open up the chest.
• Return to the quadruped position and perform the same action on the opposite side.

Gradually increase the speed of the kick-through to the point where technique remains intact but on the verge of “out of control”. 15-20 repetitions per side of Side Kick-Throughs will get the heart rate going. Another measurement of work is time. Anywhere from 30-45 seconds of exertion is a great place to start.

Kick-Throughs pair very well with kettlebells, as you’ll see below.

Select two kettlebell exercises and one variation of kick-throughs. Here are two great examples.

Workout A
Kettlebell Swings x8-10
Side Kick-Throughs x8 each side
Kettlebell Overhead Press x8 each arm
*Repeat for 6-8 rounds, rest for 45-70 seconds between each round.

Or…

Workout B
Kettlebell Gorilla Row x8 each arm
Forward Kick-Throughs x5 each side
Kettlebell Deadlift x10
*Repeat for 6-8 rounds, rest for 45-70 seconds between each round.

Or…

Mix and Match: Alternate Workout A and Workout B
Round 1: Workout A
Rest 60 seconds
Round 2: Workout B
Rest 60 seconds
Round 3: Workout A
Rest 60 seconds
Round 4: Workout B
*** Repeat for 8 rounds ***

Each round you’re performing 3 completely different exercises, using the same tool (kettlebells). If you’re tight on space, limited on equipment or looking to keep training simple and effective, this is a fantastic option.

Improvised Workouts Ground Based Conditioning Plus Animal Flow…

This is my favorite part of this article.

Animal Flow is a flexible movement discipline that can serve as little or big of a role in your training as you need to. In this section, I’ll talk about using Animal Flow as the workout, not just part of the workout.

Practicing many of the Animal Flow elements in isolation leads to stringing together longer pre-planned sequences, which eventually leads to the total improvisation of a workout or freestyle. This is the “flow” part of Animal Flow.

Flowing between various exercises for several minutes changed the game for me. It’s liberating to move around an open space without having a plan, just an understanding of knowing you can move in and out of many different positions, making shapes, increasing tempo, slowing tempo, etc. You’re in control of the session, your mind-body connection is communicating the way it was designed.

Very poetic.

Improvised flow is the highest form of training. It’s essentially movement play and exploration. I touched on this in my popular Ido Portal Method post.

I have no recommendations for improvised workouts, as they are improvised.  You make it up as you go.  Take what you know about Animal Flow: locomotion patterns, switches, transitions, etc… and build a sequence.  

There is no wrong way to flow, just start moving.  

Workouts like this can last as long as you’d like. I’ve improvised for 20-30 minutes, increasing the speed of movement sporadically throughout the session but constantly moving and changing positions.

Closing Personal Commentary…

Equipment free, ground-based conditioning has expanded my conditioning in incredible ways. I am a huge advocate of rowing ergs, airbikes, skiergs and the like, but conditioning on an open floor is entirely different than machine-based conditioning.

I’m not anti-machine.

I still use my Assault Bike and Concept2 Rowing Erg 2-3 times per week. Not for extended periods, but long enough to matter.

Taking a break from machine-based cardio will make you realize how mindless it is. I’m not saying it’s easy. It’s difficult but mindless. The gears and levers of a cardio machine move through a fixed pattern/range of motion. How hard you push yourself on the machine is entirely up to you. It’s a mind game. It’s willpower.

The amount of energy required to crawl, bend, twist, lunge, reach, roll, sprawl, rotate, squat, press around an open floor intensely for an extended period of time is mind-blowing.  Especially if you are new to it.

—>  More details about Animal Flow 2.0

 

 

Cheers, 

Kyle

Benefits of Animal Flow| Traveling Forms

Animal Flow, Motion

Screen Shot 2017-11-13 at 8.30.36 AM

Animal Flow is an innovative, gap bridging movement system built around fundamental bodyweight exercise, organized in a readymade package.  

The movement system is comprised of a wide range of exercise progressions to get a beginner flowing in their first workout, leading up to advanced movement mastery.

Animal Flow exercises and workouts are designed to help people improve strength, flexibility, body control and coordination.

At the end of the day, Animal Flow is a playful expression of what your body can do.

The most impressive aspect of Animal Flow is how well the movements and transitions fit together to create an artistic, fluid practice. 

For many reading this, starting up with Animal Flow may serve as a long overdue body reboot. The movements will ignite a re-discovery of what your body is capable of doing when it’s just you and some empty space on the floor.

The brilliance of Animal Flow is that it’s a melting pot of movement disciplines.  Instead of being locked into one movement discipline, Animal Flow draws the best from several practices like yoga, martial arts, parkour, break dancing, and gymnastics to name a few.

Training concepts taught in Animal Flow have become increasingly important as we learn more about modern-day physical activity, expanding movement capacity and improving movement I.Q.

Natural ground-based movement is as functional as it gets. The shift away from sets, reps and weight lifted represents the evolved, expanded idea of what it means to be “fit”.

Traveling Forms make up 1 of 6 components in the Animal Flow training system. 

What are Traveling Forms?

From the Animal Flow website:
“Traveling Forms are exercises that mimic the movements of animals. You’ll start with the “ABCs” – Ape, Beast, and Crab – to get you going on these full body conditioning moves. The traveling forms are essentially how we move like animals to improve the function of the human animal.”

Each of these moving forms has an emphasis on contralateral movement, which means the movement occurs across the body’s midline. For example, during Beast and Crab, the opposite hand and foot are going to move together. Contralateral movements are great for building body awareness and coordination.

Ape, Beast, and Crab are the “big three” Traveling Forms. These three exercises can be categorized as ground-based locomotion patterns. Locomotion, in laymen’s terms, means moving from one place to another. Walking, skipping, running, pushing a heavy sled, farmer walks are all variations of locomotion.

Traveling Forms are mainly performed in the quadrupedal position, with hands and feet interacting with the floor to create movement from one place to another.

Benefits of Animal Flow Traveling Forms?

Humans are bipedal creatures. We move most efficiently using our legs, placing one foot in front of the other to get where we need to go.

Practicing locomotion patterns with the body and head in unique positions other than upright walking position (head on shoulders, eyes forward, arms hanging at the sides, etc) challenges the body to re-orient itself to those uncommon positions.

Quadrupedal, animal-like movement patterns expand our movement capacities, making our body a more complete piece of machinery.

Sure, one could argue that life happens on two-feet and that’s partially true.

However, starting right now, pay close attention to how often you aren’t on two-feet. It’s a lot more frequent than you realize. Playing with your kids on the floor, reaching for an object under the couch or rolling out of bed are all simple examples of activities that happens in positions other than standing or walking.

One simple reason to supplement a training regimen with Animal Flow is to make life’s known and unknown tasks that much easier. A great goal of any fitness program should be to create a higher level of efficiency across a broader range of positions, whatever those positions may be.

Screen Shot 2017-11-13 at 7.41.50 PM

Practicing quadrupedal locomotion patterns doesn’t mean you have to stop being a bipedal creature and begin moving on all fours at work or around the house. Maybe you will, but I highly doubt it.

Traveling Forms articulate joints that rarely see any range of motion most days.  They also stimulate the provide a gentle loading for the upper extremities and demand the core musculature sort out new stimuli (cross-crawling)

Many people rehabilitating from nagging chronic dysfunction or acute trauma are often prescribed basic rolling and crawling patterns to re-establish movement integrity.

Other benefits of Animal Flow:

  • Establish neuromuscular links throughout the kinetic exercise chain.
  • Movements are multi-planar, preparing the body for different planes of motion.
    • Up and down
    • Side to Side
    • Transverse (rotational)
  • Flexibility through movement and the opening of fascial lines and slings.
  • Full articulation of joints to reinforce mobility.
  • Reconnecting the brain-body activity with contra-lateral movements.
  • Exposure of asymmetries and energy leaks as you move closer to the ground (versus standing).

Here’s another great reason to implement Animal Flow style drills… They aren’t boring.

Does this look boring?  


Yes, some might say it’s superficial to start a new exercise venture solely because it’s new and exciting, but we shouldn’t act like it’s a bad thing. If you’ve been going through the motions or near giving up on working out because you’re bored to tears, it’s absolutely worth exploring new training methods to re-ignite feelings of excitement.

Or, maybe your gut’s telling you there must be something other than counting sets, reps and chasing numbers in the gym. Trust your gut, it’s accurate. Traveling Forms satisfy the free movement craving quickly, which is often a much-needed breath of fresh air and departure from the traditional.

Let’s take look at each of the three basic forms taught in Animal Flow…

Ape

Of the three foundational Animal Flow Traveling Forms, it’s likely Ape will be the most challenge technique-wise. Timing, force absorption, core compression, and flexibility are all important to a smooth Ape.  

Traveling Ape Variations:
– Forward Ape
– Reverse Ape
– Lateral Ape

Beast

Screen Shot 2017-11-13 at 6.50.24 PM

Cross-crawling patterns have long been hailed as a re-calibration activity for rehabilitation specialists. But you don’t have to suffer an injury to reap the benefits of crawling. Beast, is an ideal crawling exercise for anyone and everyone. Beast is fantastic as a warm-up or as part of the workout. Traveling Forms like Beast are important for reinforcing and building reflexive strength along with connecting the left side of the brain with the right side.

Small space? No worries.

Beast is an adaptable exercise to fit the space you are training in. In my basement, I’ve got no more than 10 feet in any one direction. I make it work by perfectly by making more trips. Reverse Beast is a challenging variation because the eyes aren’t seeing where the feet are being placed, it’s all by feel.   

For people that find themselves traveling a lot, stuck in hotel rooms, Beast is PERFECT. If you’ve got 8-10 feet of space, Beast is in your wheelhouse.

Beast can be modified to suit a wide variety of training stimuli and goals. Ramp up the tempo for cardio, slow it down for movement control and an emphasis on core and joint stability.

I suggest practicing Beast crawling slow and controlled establish a familiarization with technique. But once you’re acclimated to the demands of Beast, ramp up the intensity to initiate a more potent cardio conditioning effect.

Traveling Beast Variations:
– Forward Beast
– Reverse Beast
– Lateral Beast

Crab

Screen Shot 2017-11-13 at 6.41.04 PM
The opposite of Beast is Crab, literally. Crab positions the front of the body toward the ceiling with arms supporting behind the back and inches in front of the glutes. Each hand placement is performed without sight and many will find out how good their shoulder extension is. Crawling in a modified supine position engages the backside muscles of the legs along with loading the shoulders in a unique extended position.

Crab is a unique exercise because of the way it engages the lats, traps and external shoulder rotators, opens up the anterior chain while simultaneously activating the posterior chain.
Of the three basic Traveling Forms, Crab is the most difficult to modify for higher intensity work. The mechanics of crawling fast in a modified supine position is not ideal. However, Crab serves a valuable purpose inside of Animal Flow, especially with flow workouts.

Traveling Crab variations:
– Forward Crab
– Reverse Crab
– Lateral Crab

Workout applications for Traveling Forms

Traveling Form exercises can be used as warm-up drills, recovery from the previous day’s training stress, included into a workout circuit or practiced inside of a flow for long durations. Because we are dealing with natural bodyweight movement you can practice these anytime. Warm or cold, go for it. Practice means progress and if you stick with it long enough, movement mastery.

Personally, I prefer to practice fewer skills in a “less but better” training format. Do fewer things but do them better. Early on, I practiced Ape, Beast, and Crab in isolation with extremely slow tempos to lock down motor control, a range of motion and timing.

Slowing down exercise tempo is a great way to reveal areas that need more attention, along with a simple assessment of ownership over the movement.

In isolation, I would work each basic form across 10-15 yards, mainly because that is the length of the space I had to work with. Many times I would slow the crawl to last 2-3 minutes across that distance. It’s brutally challenging and exhausting, yet great for building strength, stability, and endurance.

Traveling Forms can also be brilliant for improving cardio conditioning. Simply increase the tempo and intensity. Move faster. 

Take that slow Beast crawl I referred to earlier and speed it up. Don’t lose control of your technique or core. Aim for soft hand and foot contacts.

Change of direction, body position, loading the upper extremities, tension, crawling, sprawling will jack up your heart rate as fast as any other form of cardio. All without any equipment.

Expand Movement with Animal Flow

Currently, Animal Flow is now in version 2.0. The videos have been reshot, edited with a streaming format available. 

Animal Flow 2.0 includes 26 total exercises and 20 example flows.

The basic Traveling Forms we talked about in this article make up 3 out of those 26 exercises.

If you’ve been looking for the next realm of movement, Animal may be what you’ve been searching for.  I’ll continue to post updates over the coming months. 

I’ll continue to post updates over the coming months.  Exercise progressions, flows and other details about how I supplement Animal Flow into my own training.  

Screen Shot 2017-11-13 at 7.18.45 PM

 

Cheers, 

Kyle 

F.M.L. Burpee Workouts| 200 Reps in 20 Minutes (or less)

Motion, Workouts

Some of the toughest workouts I’ve ever tested involve fewer exercises and the least amount of complexity.  

One might think it would be the other way around, but it hasn’t been my experience.  

Simple… and brutal.  

Yesterday’s workout involved only one exercise and a simple goal.

[If you’ve read other posts on this blog, I am rarely an advocate for extremely high volume training, much less sky-high volume using only one exercise.  Overdone, I feel it opens the door to unnecessary injuries while leaving out a lot of really great movements which creates a more integrated total body training session.]

Here’s the workout…

Workout Structure

Exercise:  Full Burpees

Repetitions:  200 

Time:  20-minute time limit

Discussion…

Exercise

The guidelines for this workout is simple: each repetition must be a FULL BURPEE.  

What classifies as a full burpee?  

  1. Modified Squat
  2. Sprawl
  3. Push-Up (chest to floor)
  4. Jump Squat (aim for a consistent 8-12 inch of height per jump)
  5. Rinse and repeat…

Simple enough, right?

Full burpees.

Like any exercise, burpees have many variations.  So if you’re a gamer and want to take this workout for a test-drive but are inexperienced or not suited for full burpees, make sure you check out the alternatives to full burpees (which I will write about in another article).

There are plenty of burpee variations for EVERYONE.

Repetitions

200 burpees is A LOT of up and down, I am aware of this.  

However, this is the structure of the workout, so…

… get them done.  

200 burpees in 20 minutes assume a 10 burpee per minute pace.  Inside of this workout, you’ll find surges in energy where you may complete 20 reps in a row, followed by a measly 3-5 reps.  Reps are reps.  

If 200 reps are out of the question, adjust the rep/time structure.

Keep in mind, reps can be adjusted easily.  

If you must decrease the reps, I suggest staying firm with the intensity of the time limit.  You’ve got a have something to motivate you to keep a brisk pace.  

Here are some options:

  • 150 burpees in 15 minutes or less
  • 100 burpees in 10 minutes or less
  • 50 burpees in 5 minutes or less

Each of these alternatives demands a 10 burpee per minute pace, at the minimum.

Another motivating workout option is to select target reps and complete as fast as possible.  Record the time, as this sets the personal best for the next workout.  

Broken down further:

  • 1 burpee every 6 seconds or…
  • 10 repetitions per minute 

If you have no prior experience with higher volume burpee workouts, start with one of the alternatives above.  

The “50 burpees in 5 minutes or less” option is a nice workout finisher (post-resistance training).

Time

Challenge yourself to finish as fast as possible.  

The relationship between the number of repetitions and the time with which I am asking you complete them is most of what makes this workout a beast.  

Don’t flirt with the time limit just because you have seconds to spare.  Attack it.  If you can finish in 15 minutes, do it.  

Advice:  Don’t “become a victim” to the fatigue.  This is different from “falling victim” to the fatigue.  “Becoming a victim” is essentially folding when times get tough.  And believe you me, if you’re pushing it, this workout is tough.  “Falling victim” is the moment when you know you’re cashed.  

This is a fine line and each of us will interpret this moment differently.

Most people have a hidden gear they can shift into to neutralize fatigue, whether they know it exists or not.    

Remain mentally aware.  Stay engaged with what your physical self and mental self is doing, because they influence each other greatly under physical stress.

Mentally, reject limiting thoughts.  

Fatigue gives people crazy thoughts during conditioning workouts.  Your thought pattern will attempt to negotiate more rest, maybe even trying to persuade you to quit.

Don’t.  Attack the workout.

That’s all folks…

If you’re up for it, leave me a comment and let me know how you did!

 

 

Cheers, 

Kyle 

Interval Workout| Lizard Crawl + 500m Row

20 minute Workouts, Ido Portal, Workouts

Mixtaping different disciplines of fitness to create unique workouts is a hobby of mine lately.  

Yesterday, I found myself short on time.  I had roughly 20 minutes to make some workout magic happen.  Assessing the previous day’s workout, I decided on two modes of exercise:

  • The Lizard Crawl
  • Rowing

The goal:  total body training effect (in under 20 minutes)

Short burst workouts are a perfect solution to time-restricted days.  Days where I’m tight on time, but high on motivation.  “Short”… not be confused with “easy”.    

Generally, shortening a workout means the intensity gets cranked up to offset the decreased volume and duration.

Lizard Crawling is a locomotion pattern popularized by Ido Portal’s movement catalog.  

 

It involves crawling forward (or backward) in a low prone position, much lower than a traditional bear crawl.  The Lizard Crawl is a total-body exercise, well worth learning and working through the progressions.  

Most people will feel limited by their upper body strength when Lizard Crawling.  The strength needed in this particular range of motion may need some acclimation. 

That being said, there are plenty of Lizard Crawl variations to accommodate any skill level.

Here’s an example:


The Lizard Crawl, though graceful and rhythmic when performed by great movers, sucks the life out of you across even moderate distances.  It’s a very complex and demanding pattern.

Rowing, on the other hand, is, well, rowing.  

The rowing erg is beautiful in its simplicity,  yet brutal in its ability to break a person’s soul at higher intensities.  Though machine-based, rowing is one of those near total body activities that I cannot recommend enough. Rowing is primarily a posterior chain, upper body pull/lower body push action.

A quality rowing erg will cost you some cash, but across the long-term, it is well worth the investment.  

Turns out, the Lizard Crawl and rowing compliment each other perfectly.  

I’ve created workouts in the past using short distance Lizard Crawls and 250-meter row intervals, but never beyond that distance.  The 250-meter is a fantastic distance for an all out sprint.

Today I increased the challenge a bit, bumping the row up to 500-meters.

Here’s how the workout was structured…

Lizard Crawl for 20 yards

+

500 meter Row

  • Repeat for 6 rounds.  
  • Rest for 60-90 seconds in between each round.  

That’s it.  Two movements and roughly 18 minutes of time to work with.

Warm-up with something, anything.  A jump rope or some simple dynamic movements will work fine.  I do not advocate skipping warm-ups all of the time, this situation is unique, an outlier.

A cheetah doesn’t ask a Gazelle for a chance to warm-up before pursuing it for nearly a mile, it’s worth considering a human may not always have adequate time to warm-up.  

Many times, doing less things, but doing those things better makes for the best workouts.

Aesthetics and performance are built incrementally, piece by piece, workout by workout.   

Thoughts and Suggestions…

Find a pace on the rower a few levels below your personal best.  I aimed for a 1:35 min/sec pace for the 500-meter intervals, knowing that my best 500 meter was roughly 1:27 min/sec.

Why do this?  Because you will not be able to maintain a personal best pace for 500-meters across 6 rounds, with incomplete rest periods and lizard crawling before hopping on the rower.  Setting a challenging pace just below your best will get the training effect you’re after and allow room for progression in the future.

After standing up out of the rower, expect your heart rate to be sky-high.  60 seconds of rest will not feel long enough, and it shouldn’t.  It’s incomplete rest by design.  Use every second to collect yourself before the next round.  Walk around slowly, stay upright and slow your breathing.  

Keep in mind, a 500-meter row is not an easy distance to row on its own.  Adding pre-fatigue in the form of a Lizard Crawl will zap you.

When rest comes to an end, force yourself into the Lizard Crawl.  You’ll want to rest longer in later rounds but don’t.  Stay strict.  When rest is over, settle your breath and start crawling immediately.  

Anticipate the first few rounds of Lizard Crawling to feel great, followed by a steep drop off.  

If the full Lizard Crawl is too aggressive, scale it back.  Head over to my YouTube page and search “Lizard Crawl”.  You’ll find a bunch of different Lizard Crawl options I’ve played around with. 

Or, simply go with a crawling pattern in higher, more manageable body position, such as Beast (Animal Flow).  

If you found this post while surfing the inter-webs, thank you for stopping by.  

Do me a big favor and try this workout today, tomorrow or the next time you’re in a pinch for time.  

 

For more about Ido Portal and some his training methods, check out this post:

 

Cheers to you, 

Kyle 

Try These Push-Up Variations

Animal Flow, Bodyweight Workouts, Ido Portal

Push-ups are one of a handful of premiere bodyweight-based upper body exercises a person can do. 

Being that push-ups are one of the greatest bodyweight-based upper body resistance exercises a person can do, it’s important (as with any other exercise) to explore the progressions and variations within the push-up category.  

The push-up is a fundamental human movement pattern effective for building athletic performance and improving aesthetics.

Calisthenic exercise solutions are HOT right now, and for good reason.  

First, bodyweight-based training is FREE.  You spend zero dollars to do something highly beneficial for your body.  So, for anyone tight on cash, bodyweight training is your best friend.

Second, bodyweight training is a natural form of movement.  No, not “natural” like the organic potato chips you just bought, but natural because your body can become a tool for working out by leveraging different movements, angles, time, etc.  Yes, I understand life often demands that we be able to lift, carry and drag objects, but these situations represent a very small percentage of our existence.   

Third, basic calisthenic exercises are a logical starting point for anyone interested in movement/fitness/exercise and probably should be considered a prerequisite to all else.  It makes sense that a person should be able to handle their body weight with exercises like push-ups, squats, lunges, crawling and vertical pulling exercises pull-ups/chin-ups before external weight ever enters the equation.

Finally, at the bookends of life (babies and elderly) the ability to press oneself up from the floor (to do other things like crawl or walk, etc) helps us stay mobile and live life.  

Of course, we are not cavemen and cavewomen anymore, the conveniences of human evolution are all around us.  But, our bodies are wired for self-propelled movement.  Gaining mobility independence as a youngster is just as important as preserving mobility independence as we get older.  

Movement is freedom.

Traditional Push-Ups…

When someone says “push-ups”, a lot of people immediately picture a max set of pumping up and down.  And yeah, you’re right, these are definitely push-ups, but these are just one variation done in isolation, in one body position, to nausea.  

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the traditional push-up, but you’re leaving out a lot of AWESOME variations if you stop exploring there.

It’s a reasonable thought that many people would find a renewed interest (and results) in controlled physical activity if they delved a bit deeper into the hundreds of different push-up variations that exist.  

The traditional push-up doesn’t (and shouldn’t) be the end of the road variation-wise, which is why I’ve had some serious motivation to share exercise variations lately.

That being said, pay your dues with traditional push-ups before departing for the “sexier” variations.  The basics are the fundamental pillars from which all other movement is built.  

The Often Forgotten “Secret”… 

There’s no special “secret” sauce in fitness, only what you know and what you don’t know.  

And you don’t know what you don’t know.  

If there is a “secret” to push-ups, it’s that they are often overlooked and forgotten during workout exercise selection.  Our eyes drift to objects of weight or other fancy gadgets instead of down at the floor where we can assume the position and start doing work in less than 2 seconds.  

It would seem that push-ups are perceived to be rudimentary, lacking effectiveness or “only for beginners”.

If you find yourself thinking about push-ups in this way, I once again encourage you to dig into this article (and future articles) to explore and try every variation I’m about to share.

I guarantee you’ll be humbled by the potency and cognitively stimulated during most of these variations.   

Adding weight to a push-up is a common strategy to improve upper body strength, and indirectly, improve core strength at the same time.

But what about pushing up in odd body positions?

Having fully adopted and integrated ground-based movements from both Ido Portal and Animal Flow, I’ve been exploring different variations of pressing up from the floor at known and unknown (improvised) times throughout a workout.

This post is all about some of the push-up variations I’ve been toying around with across the last 10-12 months.

Watch the video, read the short description then give it a try.

Explore what YOU can do.  

#1 Resistance Band Assisted One Arm Push-Ups

Resistance bands are a brilliant tool to make exercises like chin-ups/pull-ups, single leg squats or single arm push-ups more palatable.  The band reduces the amount of weight the working arm must move during the exercise, which is often enough to make the exercise manageable.  

I value eccentric-only variations, but there is so much value is being able to go through a full range of motion, with a little less weight.

#2 Lateral Push-Ups

Traditional push-ups are a great exercise and should be taken as daily medicine, but pressing up from a variety of positions will expand your body’s movement IQ. The traditional push-up is very linear and can become boring in time.

Lateral push-ups put your body in a squat position, which from the get-go is unique.  The “fall-out” requires rotation of the torso and soft hand placement.  

Lightly touch your nose to the floor, press back up into the start position.  Performed rhythmically and for long durations, lateral push-ups will tire you out.

Aim for 6-8 reps on each side, but don’t be scared to work these for even longer sets.

#3 Stationary Low Lateral Shifts 

The low lateral shift was my first personal experience with a hybrid push-up.  Hybrid, in the sense that there is no upward/downward motion, yet many of the same muscles involved in push-ups are being worked.

Considering most people find themselves weakest at the bottom of a push-up, this exercise will challenge you to the maximum since you’re hovering at that depth.

Cues:  Shift your body side to side without making ground contact, yet avoiding the imaginary “razor wire” above you.  If you’re familiar with “Archer Push-Ups”, you’ll notice the body position is similar.  The difference is you are not pressing in this low lateral shift, the tension is high and constant throughout the work set. 

Aim for 3 sets of 5-8 shifts side to side.

#4 Dynamic Low Lateral Shifts

I could have tagged this exercise as “Traveling Low Lateral Shifts”, but dynamic sounded more professional and the definition of dynamic fits perfectly:

– relating to forces producing motion.  Often contrasted with static.  

This exercise is a stationary low lateral shift but now you’re moving across space.  I would consider this an introductory exercise to Ido’s locomotion training, though still falling into the Isolation category.  

Cues:  Stay off the floor, but don’t rise too high.

Start slow, maybe traveling 5 yards down and back.  Work up from there, as far as you can handle.

#5 Beginner Lizard Crawl Push-Ups

Lizard Crawl push-ups are a great way to practice pressing in a non-traditional body position.  

The full Lizard Crawl is one of the best exercises I’ve added to my personal workouts in years.

Of all the exercises in this post, Lizard Crawl Push-Ups require the least amount of strength, which doesn’t mean they are easy peasy, but you’ll likely be able to work these for higher repetitions.  Anywhere from 10-15 repetitions per arm.

*** If you want a humbling experience, I do suggest you attempt a full Lizard Crawl to gain some perspective on how difficult the movement pattern is.  Normally I wouldn’t recommend this, but being a body weight crawling pattern performed 2-3 inches from the floor, I see no real danger in trying it.  You’re either going to have the strength, mobility, and coordination to do make it or you’re not.  

No equipment required…

With the exception of the resistance band for assistance on the one arm push-up variation, all of these exercises require no equipment.  

This gives you an opportunity to test these exercises in your next workout.  

If you travel frequently for work, congrats, you’ve got some new push-up variations to play around with your hotel room or the hotel gym.  

Don’t procrastinate, get after it.  

To learn more about Ido Portal and my interpretation of the Ido Portal Method, check out this post.

 

For now… cheers, 

Kyle 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Animal Flow Workouts for Beginners

Motion

The Animal Flow training system is proving to be a PERFECT mixture of ground-based movement, yoga and snippets of some of the things that Ido Portal is teaching inside of his training system, The Ido Portal Method.

Linear strength and conditioning exercises are still a very important part of my training regimen.  I’m hammering away on these every other day, definitely not letting go of that.

 That being said, mixing in some Animal Flow drills has increased my movement capacity quite a bit and helped a lot of my lifts.  

One the greatest results of working these Animal Flow drills is how quickly I’ve can gained confidence in body positions that were previously very unfamiliar to me.  

Most workouts lack twisting and rotational movements.  Mine certainly did.  

Rotational movements like Scorpions, Low Transitions, etc… have been very influential in building my ground movement skills (which still need a ton of refining).  

Below, are some examples of some simple beginner Animal Flow exercises and mini-workouts, which I also refer to as sequences.  

By Ido Portal Method standards, each of these are probably best categorized as Isolation.  

In other words, I am practicing Animal Flow movements in Isolation, removed from any kind of pre-programmed flow training, and definitely breaching the realm of Improvisation.   

 

I highly recommend exploring ground based bodyweight training.  If you’re worried that the movements don’t look like a tough enough workout, I will tell you flat out you’re mistaken.  

10-15 minutes of ground based movement training can leave you exhausted, particularly if you’re new to it and inefficient.  Soreness in the days after is to be expected.  Newbies to ground based movement training should consider implementing such training before more linear resistance training takes place, when the body is fresh.  

Training total body ground movements can improve all other areas of fitness.

If you want to learn more about Animal Flow, here’s a link to the official website.

Give these movement patterns and sequences a shot and let me know how you made out…

 

 

Cheers,

Kyle

(Work)out| Lizard Crawl + Kettlebell Carries + Walking Lunges + Crab Walk

Motion, Workouts

 

Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 5.57.50 AM.png

Lizard Crawl to Kettlebells

 

Fusing body weight locomotion movements with traditional strength and conditioning exercises can create a hybrid workout experience. can breathe new life into a stale training regimen.  

When training gets stale, mix it up to breathe new life into your regimen.  

Basic linear lifting can get extremely monotonous.  Instead of skipping the workout, toss in different exercises to give you new motivation.  

What exercises are you avoiding or leaving out of your program?  Everyone has some.  It is impossible to do it all, all of the time.  My YouTube channel has hundreds of exercise demos, only 4-10 exercises can make the cut for a workout on any given day.  That leaves hundreds more sitting on the sidelines.  

Many people forget about the value of carrying heavy objects.  Carry those objects in as many different positions as possible (overhead, at your side, chest height, bear hug, etc).  Do it all.  

Locomotion drills are also a relatively new platform for building fitness most people haven’t explored.   If you haven’t, you must.  

This training session includes both.  

Today’s workout includes the following exercises:

  • Lizard Crawling (“traveling forms” in Animal Flow)
  • Suitcase-style Kettlebell Carries 
  • Overhead Kettlebell Carries
  • Kettlebell Walking Lunges
  • Reverse Crab Walks (“traveling forms” in Animal Flow)

*** For all of the kettlebell exercises, feel free to use dumbbells instead.  Any object with a handle and some challenging weight will do.

What you’ll need:

  •  1 heavy kettlebell
  •  2 kettlebells of matching weight
  •  15 yards of walking space

The Structure of the Workout

  1.  Start by lizard crawling 15 yards the location of the kettlebells.
  2.  Clean the heavy kettlebell up to chest height and position overhead.  Walk down and back with the overhead carry.
  3.  Clean the same kettlebell overhead with the opposite arm.  Walk down and back with the overhead carry.
  4.  Suitcase carry the same heavy kettlebell down and back with both arms.
  5.  Pick up the matching kettlebells and lunge walk the same 15-yard distance, down and back.
  6. Reverse crab walk to the initial start position.
  7. Repeat the process, beginning with lizard crawling once again.

Workout Video Demo

Workout Notes

This workout can be executed for rounds or time, whichever you prefer.

If you were going to work this for rounds, I suggest starting with 3-4 rounds and crushing those rounds.  The idea is to work hard and work smart.  Working smart is awareness of fatigue and body position.  When your movement turns sloppy, you’re done.  

Of course, more rounds can be added if you can handle it.  

If you’re hammering this workout for 8-10 rounds, you need to increase the difficulty of all of the exercises.  Lizard crawl for 20-25 yards, increase the weight of all of the kettlebell carries and the walking lunges.  More is not always better.

If working for a target amount of time, I suggest capping this at 20 minutes.  The video demo above shows roughly 8 minutes worth of execution.  

Use the lizard crawl and overhead kettlebell carry as indicators of when you need intra-workout rest periods or when you need to pull the plug on the session altogether.  Don’t be afraid to rest.  There is zero shame in it.  Your body can only fight fatigue for so long before the movements get sloppy.  Take the rest, towel off, get back to work.  

The overhead carry is an amazing shoulder stability/vertical core exercise, but it is also an exercise that deserves respect.  DO NOT FORCE THE OVERHEAD CARRY FATIGUE IS EATING YOU UP AND TECHNIQUE IS DROWNING.  

This particular day, I worked this exact medley for 15 minutes, wiped down the sweat avalanche and transitioned into another medley of completely different exercises.  

Combining both medleys, I accumulated 30 minutes worth of continuous quality work.  

If you don’t have access to kettlebells, don’t worry about it.  Weight is weight.  Use dumbbells, a sandbag or any other tool that has a handle.  

 

Give this workout a shot and let me know how it went…

Kyle 

 

Brute Force Sandbags

Motion

“Odd-object training has been practiced for centuries and the makings of the sport of Strongman can be traced back to ancient history, far before society began to experience the phenomena of physical fitness. For the general population of habitual exercisers, however, this very primal style of training has been forgotten for many years in mainstream fitness as new tools such as barbells, dumbbells and high-tech machines have dominated the common weight room. The practice of moving stones, carrying logs and lifting heavy load is about as practical and accessible as it gets and is not only excellent for training elite level athletes but for mom and pop types as well.”

www.bruteforce.com

I have not always been a fan of sandbag training.

I’ve been familiar with sandbag training for 15+ years and just last year I finally broke down and bought two from Brute Force, the company’s products I am going to review in this article.  

I’m a skeptic with fitness equipment.  The competition in the marketplace is great for consumers because it causes price wars, but it also introduces many poorly constructed low-quality products.

Sifting through what’s good and bad is time-consuming, and with companies on Amazon offering freebies in exchange for 5-star reviews, it’s getting harder to know what’s good and what’s not.  

I’ll research products for months before I pull the trigger.  Doesn’t matter what it is or how much it costs… the research must be done. 

Why the long hold out?  

I’ll admit I’m a big advocate of sandbag training now.  Reflecting on my past position of the usefulness of sandbags, I’ve got that “whoops, should have jumped on that much sooner” kind of feeling.

I felt sandbag training was gimmicky after my initial introduction.  

Why train with a sandbag when I could train the same exercises/movements using dumbells, a barbell or a kettlebell?  Or how about just using body weight for $free.99?

Another major turn off was the obvious niche carving going on.  

Were fitness professionals promoting sandbags because they added a results-oriented value to a workout session?  Or because it was a novel new training tool and consumers EAT UP novel new training devices without a second thought.

Like any industry, fitness experiences periodic market-driven thrusts to create unnecessary niches and products to fit those niches.  Some make it, some do not.

The marketing to use sandbags for fitness reminded me a lot of what Pavel Psatsouline did with the introduction of kettlebells to the Western World in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s.  Kettlebells took off like a rocket ship.  The timing was perfect and the odd-shaped kettlebell introduced a style of training previous unknown to many.  

I’d watch YouTube videos and read articles from self-proclaimed sandbag experts like Josh Henkin and other guys/gals proclaiming that sandbag training was the “missing link” to building athleticism and functional fitness.

To buy a sandbag made me feel like I would be buying something that I could perform 99% of exercises with tools I already owned: kettlebells or barbells. 

Of the fitness equipment I own…

I beat the hell out of all of it on a near daily basis.  My wife can attest to this, since she has to cope with the clanking of iron, grunting, weight hitting the floor and shaking the house, the fans on the rower and airbike, and probably worst of all, the music pumping out of my Bose speaker.       

Despite whatever vibe I project here on the blog, I don’t buy equipment just to buy equipment.  I hate clutter.  I don’t want my gym to look like I’m a hoarder of equipment.

The equipment I purchase must have a justified value.

I also don’t like parting ways with my money if I don’t 100% see the value in what I’m buying, no different than any of you.

Buy cheap, buy twice.  It stings every single time it happens.

So, I’m sorry if I bored you to death, but that’s my personal story with sandbags.  Now, I’d like to share with you the company I settled on buying from and why I did.  

Brute Force Sandbags

Size Options

Brute Force offers 3 different size sandbags:Screen Shot 2017-07-16 at 12.10.53 PM

  • Mini Sandbag Training Kit – (5-25lb)
  • Athlete Sandbag Training Kit – (25-75lb)
  • Strongman Sandbag Training Kit – (50-125lb)

If you’re a beginner I suggest starting with the Mini or the Athlete option, strictly based on the weight of the bag.  You can always size up as you get stronger.  

For intermediate or advanced, I suggest buying both the Athlete and the Strongman in one shot.  

Why?  Because the Athlete won’t be heavy enough for some exercises, while the Strongman will be WAY too much weight for other exercises.  They compliment each other very well.  

Plus, the sandbags are interchangeable so you can transfer the filler bags from your Athlete bag to the Strongman, and vice versa.  

Personally, I bought the Athlete and the Strongman, both in the color black.  I would make the same purchase again without thinking twice.  Both serve different purposes within my workouts.

Here are the most important features that separate Brute Force sandbags from others on the market.

Material Choice and Construction

Brute Force makes a durable sandbag using the following:

  • 1000D Military-Spec Cordura
  • Military Grade Velcro
  • 5 Panel Seatbelt Webbing
  • YKK Zippers

1000D Military-Spec Cordura

The outer shell and inner filler bags are constructed with the same military grade material being used by the armed forces.  1000D Military Spec Cordura. Cordura fabrics are known for their durability and resistance to abrasions, tears, and scuffs.

Cordura fabrics are known for their durability and resistance to abrasions, tears, and scuffs.  They’ve been used in the military since WWII, introduced as a type of rayon at that time.  

Personally, I can handle the scuffs.  Scuffs are a part of the ownership of any item.  But when the abrasions evolve into tears, that’s a problem.  

Military Grade Velcro

Plain and simple, crappy velcro sucks.  

You will need two hand technique and some serious pull-apart strength to peel back the velcro on the inner filler bags.  

After my Athlete and Strongman bags arrived, this was one of the first things I noticed while filling the bags with sand.  If the filler bags are crap, the entire bag is crap, even if the outer shell is durable.  

Why?  If the sand leaks out of the filler bags, it’s going to find a way to leach out of the outer shell at some point and you’ll slowly create a mess.  

The inner filler bags of any quality sandbag SHOULD NEVER LEAK.

5 Panel Seat Belt Webbing

The seat belt wrapped around Brute Force Sandbags is the exact same that you trust your life with while driving your vehicle.  

This seat belt webbing is aggressively stitched into the outer shell and leads up into the handles of the sandbag.  

Much of the training you’ll do with a sandbag will utilize the handles. 

The handles must be able to tolerate the weight of the bag when lifting, throwing, carrying or dragging.  

Brute Force did a nice job adding a ton of reinforced stitching between the seat belt webbing and the handles.  Doing so will prevent the gradual handle tear away so many other sandbag companies have struggled to fix.  

YKK Zippers

I’ll be honest.  I had no idea what “YKK” meant.  When it came to zipper the logical feeling was that I didn’t want to deal breakage.  No pulls that pop, herky-jerky sliding mechanisms, teeth that break or lockups.  

But I did some research on YKK zipper anyway.

YKK zippers are produced in Japan and have been since 1934.  The founder of the YKK zippers, Tadao Yoshida, built the company on the foundation of this quote:  “no one prospers unless he renders benefit to others.”  Boom.  I’m on board with that.  

Remember that awesome pair of expensive jeans you bought, but the zipper sucked?  Yeah, me too.  I’ve had a couple pairs of these.  I didn’t think much about the quality of the zipper prior to buying my sandbag, but the reality is I was buying a $100+ dollar pair of jeans that I was going to be physically abusing.  

Zippers matter. Especially if you plan on removing the filler bags frequently to change the weight for a given exercise, or traveling with the sandbag and refilling with your destination. 

Handle Options

I wanted a wide variety of handle options and I got it.  All of the Mini, Athlete, Strongman sandbags have 4 sets of flexible soft-grip handles, 8 handles total.  

The 4 sets of handles offer the user the following grip options during exercise:

  • Neutral Grip (palms facing in)
  • Barbell Grip (overhand)
  • Suitcase Grip
  • End Cap Grip

You may think you’re only going to use 1 or 2 of these grips, but you’ll start exploring sooner than you’d think.  I use them all for a variety of different exercises and various reasons.  

Being able to switch grips on the same exercise can give a different training stimulus and keep training fresh.  


I use the end cap handles the least, but I have used them when playing around with variations.

Filler Bags

I touched on the importance of having good quality velcro above, but what I didn’t mention is each Brute Force filler bag is designed with a double Velcro seal. The Athlete version comes equipped with two filler bags.  One bag has a 50lb fill limit and the other has a 30lb fill limit, for 80lbs of total system weight. 

The Athlete version comes equipped with two filler bags.  One bag has a 50lb fill limit and the other has a 30lb fill limit, for 80lbs of total system weight.  

80lbs in a sandbag feels like twice that weight.  Don’t associate sandbag training with rigid equipment like barbells.  80lbs is going to wear you out quickly, which is the point.  

I’ve not dabbled with going over the suggested weight limits for each bag, and I probably won’t.  Sandbag training thrives off of the oddness of the structure, shape changing, and weight shifting as you move. Few repetitions are exactly the same.

Few (if any) repetitions are exactly the same.

Overstuffing the outer shell with filler bags will leave no room inside for the filler bags to move.  We want the filler bags to move.  

So, overstuffing a sandbag eliminates one of the main benefits of sandbag training, the reactiveness required to handle the sandbag during exercise.  

Some things to keep in mind…

The sandbag might rip, tear and leak.

I just spent 10 minutes of your time and 1000+ words pumping up the Brute Force line and now I’m tossing this out there?  

Damn right.  Ripping, tearing and leaking is a reality, as it is with any fabric-based piece of gym equipment.  

This is why you found this review, isn’t it?  I’d bet that it is.  Outside of design features and functionality of the sandbag, you’re probably curious if Brute Force Sandbag are going to hold up across a respectable amount of time. 

Look, I was in your shoes asking the same questions prior to making my purchase so I get it. 

The most honest answer to that question is this: it depends.  

It depends on the exercises you’re doing (slams, dragging, the frequency (daily use versus just sometimes)

Friction wears things out.  We change our car tires and our shoes because of friction, when we were kids we threw away pencils because the erasers wore down to the metal.   

Friction is a major reason we have to replace the old with new.   

If you plan on high repetition slamming or long distance dragging your sandbags across jagged gravel versus grass or a smooth wood or concrete basement floor…


… then yes, no matter what sandbag manufacturer you choose, the outer shell is going to rip and tear until the inner filler bags are exposed, then those are going to leak.  

I wouldn’t quite refer to this scenario as negligence or product misuse, more a reality of using your equipment aggressively and decreasing the lifespan dramatically. 

But this is common sense, isn’t it?  

Here’s another fact.  Just as no company should tout their sandbag products to be
“indestructible”, no self-respecting company will hint their products could wear out.  

I’ve owned both of my Brute Force bags for over a year, beat the hell of out them, and they still look new.  I am extremely pleased.

You might not find value in every sandbag exercise.

Just because I demonstrate a sandbag exercise I found value in, doesn’t mean you will.  

Personally, I find heavy hang cleans with a sandbag to be inferior to hang cleans with a barbell.  

The pull is awkward, which morphs the technique into something I fear could result in injury.  Probably not, but it’s a hunch I have, so I stay away from it.  Plus, the exercise feels forced.  

What do I do instead?  I don’t use heavy sandbag cleans in my workouts.  I’ll work sub-maximal hang cleans with my Athlete sandbag, mainly as a way to get the bag from a low position to chest height. 

If I go heavy, I use a barbell instead.  Simple as that. 

Keep your mind open to all sandbag exercises.  My suggestion is to start by working common linear exercises first (squats, lunges, overhead pressing) and progressing on to more involved exercises like rotational swings or combination moves.  

Start with light weight, get the feel of the movements, then add weight as you progress.  It’s no different than progressing with any other piece of gym equipment.  Familiarize yourself, then progress to more challenging exercises. 

Sandbags are EXTREMELY functional…

I’m not going to tell you sandbags will change your life, cause you to lose fat that you couldn’t with other tools or increase your conditioning more effectively.  

Can’t do it.  

What I will say, and I alluded to this briefly before, is training with a sandbag is a completely different training experience versus traditional weights.  Sandbags lack structure, so picking them up and stabilizing them is a pure challenge.  

Half of the workout is navigating the bag up to the position you’re going to use for the exercise.

Grabbing a sandbag without using the handles will be a real eye-opener to your grip strength.  

Exercises like squats, lunges, carrying and dragging are ABSOLUTELY ideal for sandbag training.  There are so many alternative variations, holds, grips, and movements you simply cannot do with iron gym equipment.  

Bear hugging a heavy sandbag for squats, lunges or carries is brutally taxing.  

Here’s a squat variation using an underarm hold, which challenges your bicep endurance while you squat…

What I’ve found is that mixing sandbag work has improved my rigid equipment performance (barbells, kettlebell, dumbells).  Picking up a nicely balanced barbell seems convenient now, versus trying to figure out how to lift a 120lb structureless bag from the floor up to my shoulders.  

In daily life, we are often faced with the challenge of moving odd-shaped objects.  There is no way around it.  Every time I load my lawn mower or our bikes into my truck bed I’m reminded of this.  Where are the handles?  None in sight, but the work must be done regardless.  

What makes a form of exercise functional is the transfer it has to help a person become better equipped to thrive with common physical tasks, whether they are sport related or real-world task.  

Few pieces of gym equipment better transfer more appropriately as sandbags.  

MetCon Workouts like this are short, simple but brutally effective.  I used to use barbells for combinations like this, but the sandbag has a much better feel. 

I won’t be shy about my appreciation of the sandbag and the unique dynamic it’s added to my own workouts.  It’s awesome additional to the home

Sandbags make a nice functional addition to the home gym set up or a personal training business for that matter.  

For more information, head over to Brute Force.com

If you’ve got questions, don’t hesitate to ask, I’ve got answers and am happy to help.  

 

Cheers to quality gym equipment,

Kyle

A Hybrid 17 Minute Workout| Pull-Ups, Sandbags, Dynamic Planks, Lizard Crawl

Motion

This workout is a deviation from the traditional.  

It’s got everything you want, nothing you don’t.  

Yesterday, I designed a tough little workout using a variety of different exercises and a sandbag.  

Included was a mash-up of traditional body weight training, sandbag loaded drills (cleans, squats and lunges), dynamic core stability planks, and a modified lizard crawl.  

Almost going unnoticed was a significant amount pull-ups and push-ups.  Especially considering 3 pull-ups initiated the start of a new cycle and 4 push-ups were 

Here is a two round demonstration of the workout structure.  

Watch the video again, especially if the written description below gets a little too wordy.  Make no mistake, you’ll have to pay attention to what comes next during this workout.  I did this by design.  

Less mindless long rep sets in favor of changing patterns quick and often.  

The Details of the Workout…

From top-to-bottom, cycle the following in order for 17 Minutes:

3 Bodyweight Pull-Ups

1 Sandbag Clean + Squat + Reverse Lunge + Overhead Press

Left) 1 Push-Up + Sandbag Crossbody Pull-Through (Left to Right)

           1 Push-Up + Sandbag Crossbody Pull-Through (Right to Left)

Modified Lizard Crawl (Left arm)

Right) 1 Push-Up + Sandbag Crossbody Pull-Through (Left to Right)

             1 Push-Up + Sandbag Crossbody Pull-Through (Right to Left)

Modified Lizard Crawl (Right arm lead)

Back to pull-ups… 

Time requirements:  17 minutes

Rest periods:  None

Equipment Needed:  Timer, Pull-Up bar, and a sandbag

Space:  6ft x 6ft with vertical clearance for pull-ups

This is a total body, work capacity based workout. 

What makes it so?

Here’s why… 

Exercise Patterns/Variations

  • Vertical Pulling – Pull-Ups
  • Ballistic – Sandbag Clean
  • Squat – Sandbag Squat
  • Lunge – Sandbag Lunge
  • Horizontal Pressing – Push-Up
  • Core Stability – Sandbag Crossbody Pull-Through
  • Locomotion – Modified Lizard Crawl

 Total body training effect.  

The modified Lizard Crawl at the end of the medley is going to feel torturous as the fatigue creeps in.  Manage your efforts and execute.  

If this version of the lizard crawl is too advanced for a workout like this, head to the M(EAUX)TION YouTube page to get ideas on how to scale it back.  I’ve uploaded many variations to choose from.

Work Capacity-Based

Setting a 17 minute working time in combination with no rest periods makes this a work capacity developer. If you were to attempt this workout several times, the goal would be to do more work in the same amount of time as you do the previous attempt.  

If you succeeded, this is an increase in work capacity.

Lately, I’ve become a HUGE fan of training sessions where the goal is to JUST KEEP MOVING.  There is no pressure to chase the clock or scrutinize over accumulating the most reps.  Settle into a pace that challenges you and be stubborn not to quit.

Focus on maintaining movement integrity while under fatigue and controlling your breathing.

Moving well when tired… not every physical task in life is going to present itself when you’re 100% fresh, ready to go.  At some point, you’re likely going to encounter work that needs doing when you’re exhausted.  

No doubt this will resonate with manual laborers and first responders whose livelihood depends on their ability to work through fatigue, yet remain injury-free in doing so.

Do not allow your breath to control you, instead, you control your breath.  Become aware.  Inhale and exhale deeply.  Find a breathing rhythm for the entirety of the work bout.  

Some thoughts about developing fatigue resistance… 

Fatigue will tear apart exercise technique and perception of body position.  In other words, you might perceive your plank to look badass perfect while you’re huffing and puffing, but really you’re sagging like a piece of taffy in the Summer heat.

In other words, you might think your plank looks magazine cover perfect while you’re huffing and puffing, but really you’re sagging like a piece of taffy in the Summer heat.

An exercise that looked great while fresh often changes while in a fatigued state.  

Practicing one’s ability to move well while in a fatigued state is important.     

Workouts like this, scaled to your tolerance and movement ability can help keep you moving safely no matter how exhausted you are.  

 

Cheers to your effort,

Kyle