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, tricep 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’s 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 are 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 to 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 on Ido Portal’s training methodology, the fans are still waiting for published work from Ido.  Unfortunately, nothing yet.  

But, there are other results-oriented movement optimization programs to explore, which will bring you dangerously close to some of Ido’s work.

Here are 3 programs I recommend:

  • Animal Flow
  • C-Mass 
  • Ultimate Athleticism

Screen Shot 2017-06-02 at 6.43.52 AM

Animal Flow is a brilliant training system that will bring you dangerously close to Ido’s ground-based locomotion drills.  Founder Mike Fitch designed Animal Flow to mimic primal animal-like movements.  The movements are first practiced in isolation than later strung together into movement sequences and flows, creating intricate workouts using nothing but bodyweight. 

Animal Flow is unlike anything I’ve come across and is by far the best program for understanding animal-based locomotion exercises. It’s like a mixture of locomotion, yoga flow and traditional body weight training all-in-one.  It helps that Mike Fitch is a world-class mover himself, and his teaching style is clear, concise and easy to integrate.

Over the past few months, I’ve engaged heavily with the Animal Flow 2.0 program and it’s opened a number of movement doors not previously accessible.  On camera, there is a noticeable difference in my movement as my body has adapted to previously unfamiliar positions and locomotion drills.  

I published a much deeper overview of Animal Flow here.

screen-shot-2016-10-15-at-9-53-59-am

If you’re looking to improve your movement capacity while placing an emphasis on building a lean physique, C-Mass is best for you.  This is a tried and true calisthenics training guide, completely turn-key.  Again, C-Mass is best for the person aiming to chisel out a lean physique while improving movement.  

One could argue many of the movement techniques will naturally build muscle (and you’re partially right) but the Kavadlo brothers have definitely tweaked the program towards building functional lean mass.  

Screen Shot 2017-06-28 at 6.37.35 PM

Max Shank is a legend in the strength and conditioning world, mainly because he’s a world-class strength coach who was one of the first to successfully bridge the gap into gymnastics and yoga flow training.  His training system, Ultimate Athleticism, has received raving reviews from customers.  It’s built on balance:  strength, movement capacity, and flexibility.  


Ultimate Athleticism represents the sustainable, long-term solution to building a body capable of multi-planar movement.  It’s a nice blend of health, aesthetics, and performance bundled in one product.  

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

Or posts similar to what you just read, this one in particular. 

 

Cheers to the Basics of The Ido Portal Training Method…

KG

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 

A Descending Distance Interval Workout on the Rowing Machine

Motion

As refreshing as the current “natural movement”, “body weight domination” and gymnastics evolution is, don’t give up on the machines.  

Don’t give up on the machines!

Cardio machines are valuable tools to help build fitness.  

Adding to that, some cardio machines are clearly better than others.  I lump rowing machines into the “must have” category of cardio machines.  

Several years ago, my increasing interest rowing drove me to purchase a Concept2 Model D Rower off of Amazon.  I fell in love with it almost immediately.  Living in Wisconsin, brutal Winters keep us inside for many months of the year.  Going outside to exercise is the last thing a person wants to do.  

Rowing was a completely foreign activity during the first few sessions.  

I sucked.  I was inefficient and sloppy with my technique which left me exhausted in short time.  The funny part about this is I’ll never burn as many calories rowing as I did in those first few sessions.  

Inefficient exercise sucks up a lot of energy. 

I quickly found the rowing machine to be a perfect compliment to my airbike conditioning.  I began a regular rotation between the two cardio machines, organizing row training on less grip/back/pulling intensive resistance training days to avoid overuse injuries and maximize performance.

Still today, I am a self-taught rower and proud of it.  A couple of YouTube videos from elite rowers and coaches, several articles and my technique improved tremendously.  If you’re a “see then do” type learner, you can easily do the same.

Accumulating longer distances (more meters)

Over the course of the last year or so, I’ve begun playing around with the training effect of increasing meters rowed per week.  2-3 days per week, my goal was to row accumulate 4000m.  

2 days per week would give me 8000m and 3 days would give me 12,000 meters.  

How I would go about achieving these 4000m had no rules, as long as 4000m was achieved.  Longer distance rowing has always been my Achilles heel, and quite honestly, I get bored on the rower easily.  Call it lack of discipline or whatever, but I lose focus quickly.  

One strategy which helped improve my attitude towards longer distance rowing was descending distance workouts.

Descending distance workouts is interval based, beginning by rowing the longest distance first when you are freshest.  Every distance thereafter is shorter than the previous and is separated by a rest period to catch your breath, towel off and grab some water.  

Descending the distances during the training sessions allowed me to accumulate more meters while giving a guy who avoided longer distances something to look forward to as the workout progressed.  

As you’ll see, the final three distances of this workout are on the shorter side: 500m, 250m, and 125m.  

If you’re looking for a tough conditioning workout that will help you accumulate more meters on the rower, give this exact workout a shot.  

Accumulation Rowing Workout

2000m – 1000m – 500m – 250m – 125m

Complete 1 round of the following:

Row/Rest #1:  2000m/3 min

Row/Rest #2:  1000m/2:30 min

Row/Rest #3:  500m/2 min

Row/Rest #4:  250m/1 min

Row/Rest #5:  125m/done

Total:  3875 meters

Let’s be clear… piling up 3875 meters in a single workout is fantastic!

I’ve personally experienced profound changes in my cardio conditioning by rowing roughly 4000m per workout several days per week, hitting 3875m ballparking a similar distance.

A descending workout like this is EXTREMELY FLEXIBLE.  

You can shift the pieces around any way you want.

Keeping the suggested rest periods, here are a couple of variations of this workout worth trying…

Eliminate the 2000m interval if you’ve never gone for that distance, or you prefer to change the focus to shorter sprint distances.  Add in a couple more 1000m intervals.  

This new workout structure would be: 1000m – 1000m – 1000m – 500m – 250m – 125m 

What about eliminating the 1000m but adding in a couple more 500m intervals instead?  

The workout would look like this:  2000m – 500m – 500m – 500m – 250m – 125m

All of these options still add up to the same accumulated meters, 3875m.  

 

You’ll find the rest periods necessary if you’re giving a solid effort.  Don’t mis-judge how you feel after the first long interval.  The fatigue is going to snowball as the workout goes on.    

Settle into a challenging pace, stroke and breathing rhythm that you can maintain for the duration.  To help your breathing, be mindful of unnecessary jaw clenching, tense neck and what your tongue is doing inside your mouth.  A lot of times, if the tongue is at ease, so is the jaw and neck.  The result is an unrestricted pathway for exhalation and inhalation.

A lot of times, if the tongue is at ease, so is the jaw and neck.  The result is an unrestricted pathway for exhalation and inhalation.

Laugh now, thank me later.  

 

 

Cheers to descending interval training…

Kyle 

 

 

 

 

MetCon Workout Finisher| 50 Sandbag Burpees for Time

Sandbag Training

The sandbag is a no-frills piece of fitness equipment that I ignored for years, often choosing iron instead. 

I won’t say it was a lost out during that time, but I will say the functional training value of sandbags is enormous.  

Sandbag training makes sense.  Few objects of mass in the real world setting have a perfectly symmetric distribution of weight.  I’ve never bumped into a loaded barbell inside my garage that needed relocating.  I’m being a smartass right now and I see the value in barbell training, but the idea is to shed light on the value of non-iron based training.

For those who are seeking the functional training experience, the sandbag IS a premiere training tool because of it’s unique properties.  Even more so than suspension trainers and other popular “functional” exercise tools.  

Why?

No repetition of any sandbag exercise is exactly the same.  

It may feel similar, but because sandbags are constantly changing shape as the weight shifts while you move.  The shape change is two-fold:  the small sandbags inside the outer shell shift while the grain of sand inside of each small sandbag shifts.  

The change in shape creates an action-reaction scenario during work sets.  Your body must make on-the-go, reactive adjustments to the changes.  if you’re going to complete each rep aiming for best possible technique.  

With sandbag training, each rep leverages acceptable training technique and body position, not perfect training technique.  Again, because the weight moves as you do, stabilizing muscles are called upon during dynamic sandbag exercises.

I say “best possible technique” and not “perfect technique” because lifting odd-shaped objects in real world scenarios often does not allow for perfect repetitions.  

In the gym, a modern day controlled setting, we can train “perfect” exercise technique until the cows come home, but real world tasks may require a deviation from perfect.  

Sandbag training can prepare our bodies to handle subtle deviations in body position without going overboard, keeping each exercise safe yet challenging.

Acclimating the body to operate on the fringe of “safe” is worth exploring.  We don’t always move within the zones that keep us healthy and injury.  Sometimes, we have to operate on the fringe, knowingly or unknowingly.  

Regarding training safe training, here are a couple of simple questions:  

  •  What is “safe”?  
  •  Can training “safe” actually be unsafe?

Lots of handles, use none of them…

Most premiere sandbag manufacturers have stitched handles all over the outer shells, giving the user a variety of grip options.  However, a lot of real world objects don’t have nicely positioned handles, so what then?  

However, a lot of real world objects of mass don’t have nicely positioned handles, so what then?  

Pick up the bag without the handles.  You’ll be surprised how a 40-50lb sandbag can feel twice as heavy while picking it up from the dead floor position without using handles for assistance.  

Over the past several months, sandbag exercises continue to creep into my workouts, substituting where kettlebells and barbells used to dominate. Sandbag squats now live where kettlebell and barbell

Now, I use Underarm sandbag squats where I used to use barbell front squats.  

Sandbag cleans have also provided an incredible variation using 60-70% less weight previously used with barbell cleans.  Performing a clean with a HEAVY, AWKWARD, SHAPE-SHIFTING objects changes how you navigate such an exercise. 

A sandbag clean using a sandbag shell that’s 70-80% filled with sandbags is one of the most challenging externally loaded exercises I’ve performed.  

Various ballistic sandbag swing exercises have made their way into my workouts where kettlebell and barbell used to exist.  

Screen Shot 2017-07-13 at 7.25.58 AM.png

Some of these swing exercises work great and some feel completely unnatural and forced.  Keep some, ditch some I suppose.

But the point of this article is to touch on a memorable MetCon Workout Finisher I worked through recently, which I know will leave you all panting.

The beta test on this sandbag finisher turned out to be perfect.  Not too much work, not too little, just right.   

Here it is…

The 50 Rep Sandbag Burpee Challenge

The Challenge:  Complete 50 reps of sandbag burpees.

Time Limit:  5 minutes or less. 

Suggested Sandbag weight (sub-maximal)

  • Women: 30-40 lb sandbag
  • Men: 50-60 lb sandbag

Grip:  Neutral (hands facing in) or pronated (overhand position)

The Purpose: Perform as much work as possible in a given timeframe.  

 

Above is my improvised attempt at this 50 rep burpee challenge.  I lost track of reps somewhere around 25-30, so I added some extra to the backend to be sure I didn’t cheat the volume.  My finishing time was 4:55min/sec.  Not a muscle unused, lungs were feeling it.  

Changes levels with traditional bodyweight burpees can be extremely fatiguing.  If you’ve completed a long set of burpees or worked burpees for intervals, you know this.  

Adding a sandbag to clean and press increases the challenge exponentially.  As fatigue increases throughout this challenge, the stabilizing muscles begin to play a more important role.  

Brute Force Sandbags are my brand of choice.  For a workout like this, I suggest using the Athlete model.  This will keep the weight sub-maximal, which is important for high repetition work capacity workouts.  

Screen Shot 2017-07-13 at 7.39.20 AM

Functionally and durability were the determining factors for choosing Brute Force over other brands.  I wanted a sandbag with plenty of handle options, but I also wanted the bag to be bulletproof.  I am extremely hard on my fitness equipment, and I knew I’d be using these on a variety of soft and hard surfaces (concrete, gravel, wood floors, etc).  

To see the complete Brute Force sandbag offering, go here:  Brute Force Sandbags

Give this MetCon Workout Finisher a shot!

 

Cheers,

Kyle

The Benefits of Jump Rope Training

cardio, Motion

Jump rope training is packed with benefits.  Jumping over that tiny little rope can improve muscle strength and skeletal integrity (through medium ground impact force).  

The calories burned while jumping rope are high compared to other activities and including jump rope training in a workout regimen is a great way to get a potent cardio training effect with the body in a standing position, versus seated cardio machines.  

Lastly, jump ropes are inexpensive, versatile and simple to integrate with other training methods to increase the challenge and scope of your workouts.

Several years ago I wrote an article called:  Jumping Rope:  The Undeniable Negatives.

The article came off a bit, safe and cautionary.  To be honest, I was a lot younger then and my writing style wasn’t as clear and to the point as it is now.  Regardless, I feel some of the points made in that article are valid.

Jumping rope can be tough on the muscles and joints early on.  I don’t recommend a sedentary individual reach for a jump rope to initiate their exercise regimen.  If your body hasn’t been exposed to impact in a while (maybe never), jumping rope will annihilate your lower extremity muscles in the days afterward.  

But cautionary tales won’t be part of this article, so let’s get into the good stuff… 

… the benefits of jump rope training.

Inexpensive

If you’re looking for an inexpensive piece of fitness equipment, jump ropes are the ticket.

The last jump rope I purchased set me back $7 on Amazon over 3 years ago.  

Screen Shot 2017-07-08 at 8.04.25 AM

Inflation.

The same rope is still kicking ass and serves as a valuable part of my pre-workout warm-ups, occasionally making appearances inside of metabolic conditioning workouts.  

36 months of use divided by $7 cost-to-own equals roughly $.19/month.  

Previous to my $7 jump rope, I purchased a $30+ jump rope from LifeLine Fitness which turned out to be a piece of shit for the cost.  

In the early 2000’s, LifeLine was considered to be the “functional fitness” company, so I was surprised at the quality and design of their jump ropes.  Durability was terrible and there was no way to adjust the length of the rope.  

So, when it was time to find another rope, I went with the thinnest cable based rope I could find and I have had no issues yet.  

Side-thought: One downside to jump ropes is they are a one-trick pony.  In other words, you can only really jump rope with a jump rope.  But hey, for $7-$15, who cares, it serves it’s purpose without breaking the bank.

Cost comparison to other popular forms of equipment-based cardio:

Jump Rope:  $7-$40

Concept2 Rower:  $950

Assault Airbike:  $799+

Versaclimber:  $2000+

Treadmill:  $900+

Jacobs Ladder:  $2500+

Non-Treadmill Running:  $50+ for shoes (dependent on weather)

* To be clear, I’m not advising you to stay away from any of these machines.  For machine-based cardio, each ranks high on the effectiveness list.  I personally own both a Concept2 rower and the Assault Airbike and wouldn’t have it any other way.

Environment/location/equipment friendly

I’m going to tackle this benefit in bullet point fashion.

  • Jump training doesn’t require a lot of room to train.
  • You can do it on the spot.
  • You can pack it up and travel with it, taking it anywhere.
  • You can train inside (not weather dependent)

If you’ve got a 6×6 space with a 7ft2inch high ceiling, you’re clear for jumping rope.  I know this because 70% of my workouts take place in my home basement, where space is limited but adequate for twirling a rope.  

Scalable for everyone

Any great piece of cardio training equipment is scalable to a wide range of skill and fitness levels.  Most are, but some are not.  

Beginners who are new to jump rope training can start with the basics:  two-foot jumps, alternating jumps etc.  


Turning up the intensity is simple:  turn the rope over faster.  

Don’t confuse “basics” with ineffective.  Exercises are best scaled to match fitness level, the challenge is therefore proportionate no matter how fit you are. 

Advanced jump rope training can include various single leg jumps, mixed medley jumping and double-unders (turning the rope under the feet twice per jump).  

High knees (running in place) while jumping rope is extremely taxing when performed for intervals of 30-60 seconds per work set.  A workout designed with 10-15 intervals will make you a believer in the cardio training effect of jumping rope.  

Just like a beginner, if an advanced trainee wants to increase the difficulty of their training sessions all you need to do is 

Duration of jumping rope can be adjusted for both beginners and advanced alike.  Adding a minute to a jump rope workout every week or two can have you jumping for 15-20 minutes in no time.  

However, once you hit 20 minutes of continuous jumping, I suggest adjusting the movement complexity of the jump or cranking up the tempo of the rope versus adding more time.  

Jump Rope Posture

As stated earlier, I love cardio equipment like rowers and airbikes, but these machines put people in a seated position to operate.

If sitting is the new smoking, and a lot of people are sitting too much throughout most days as it is, I don’t want you to come home and sit down to exercise.  This would be contributing to the epidemic.

Jumping rope puts a person in a standing position with shoulders pulled back and hips forward.  

It is difficult to jump rope with poor posture.  Doing so will likely limit the speed you’re able to turn the rope and also the jump technique.  Plus, it will be uncomfortable to hunch over and jump.  

Any physical activity getting a person uncoiled from the seated posture is a great option.  

Great for Pre-Workout Warm-Ups

After some basic stretching and mobility work, grab a jump rope and work through roughly 5-10 minutes of medium-intensity rhythmic jumping.  Work a medley of jumps:  two-foot jumps, high knees, single leg, back and forth, side to side and lower body boxer twists.  

I promise you will find little else as simple and effective to get your body and mind prepared for a workout.  

Again, getting the blood flowing pre-workout in a standing position is ideal.

Impressive calorie burn

Jumping rope can burn up to 700 calories per hour.

But here’s the deal, I don’t think anyone should be jumping rope for 60 minutes, it’s too much volume.  If you have the attention span and endurance to turn a rope for 60 unbroken minutes, you’re a badass.  

In terms of training volume and ground contacts, 60 minutes of jump rope training is sort of like running a marathon every week.  There are obvious dangers associated with both (overuse, overtraining, lack of variety, etc).

I don’t recommend choosing exercises based on calorie burn, it can develop favoritism toward certain activities while and excluding others.  Balance is the key.    

However, jump rope training does use up an impressive amount of energy which means a larger amount of calories being burned in the same amount of time when compared to other popular activities like running, cycling and swimming.  

Weight Loss/Fat Loss

Jumping rope consistently can help you look better naked.  See reasons above for why.

Jumping rope burns calories.  Increasing calories out compared to calories taken in is a scientifically backed strategy for both weight loss and fat loss.  Calories in versus calories out.  Of course, the quality of calories taken in will influence the rate of weight loss and fat burning a great deal also.

Combine a decent nutritional regimen with some quality jump rope training and you’ll see a major shift in body composition.  Intermittent Fasting is hot diet pattern right now.

Cardio Integration

This is the real reason why I love jumping rope.  Supplementing jump rope training in with rowing, biking, running and bodyweight metabolic conditioning workouts keeps workouts challenging and fresh.

Fact #1:  If you look forward to your workouts, you’ll keep training.  

Fact #2:  If you despise your workouts, you’ll fade to doing nothing quickly. 

Jumping rope after pre-fatiguing your body with other exercises provides a great challenge.  When muscles are tired, posture degrades, so turning the rope while huffing and puffing demands an increased level of focus.  

Here’s quick and dirty bodyweight and jump rope workout for you to try:

10 Squats

10 Push Ups 

1 Minute Jump Rope

10 Lunges

10 Body Rows or Pull Ups

1 Minute jump rope

8 Hollow Body Rocks

Complete 5 rounds as fast as possible.  Record your time and re-test in a month or so.

If you completed 5 rounds, the numbers break down like this:

  •  10 minutes of jumping rope
  •  50 squats
  •  50 push ups
  •  50 lunges (per leg)
  •  50 body rows/pull ups
  •  40 hollow body rocks

If you’re in the market for developing work capacity and burning fat in the process, simple and effective workouts like this are essential.  

Splitting up the jump rope into 1-minute bursts will make you feel like you’re hardly jumping.  But as the numbers show, you actually accumulated 10 minutes worth.  Not bad.   

Over the course of the next few months, you’ll see an increased number of full workouts posted to this blog, and my YouTube page.  If you’re interested in following along, I suggest you subscribe for updates.  

I’ll be keeping things fresh for a long, long time.  

If you got some value from this post, I’d like to expose you to several other popular posts my readers have enjoyed:

Now, stop reading and thinking, grab a rope and go crush a workout. 

 

Cheers to the benefits of jump rope training, 

Kyle 

Basics of Animal Flow| The A-B-C’s of Traveling Forms

Animal Flow, Motion

Very few fitness programs are comprised of such unique, intelligently designed and progressive exercises as Animal Flow. 

Created by Mike Fitch, Animal flow is a bodyweight ground-based movement training system that integrates several training methodologies into one unique workout experience.  

If you look closely, you’ll see traditional and hybrid elements of yoga, ground-based locomotion, and various gymnastics drills fused into one flexible training system.

Animal Flow is made up of various Transitions, Switches and Traveling Form exercises, which are modeled after animal-like movements.  

Of particular importance to me, is the fact that Animal Flow is scalable to any fitness level.  

If only the really fit people can benefit from a workout system, what is the point?  And vice versa.

Well designed, scalable training programs have limitless possibilities for progression.  This translates into months and likely years of physical improvement.  

Talking with my wife the other day, I mentioned that practicing movement keeps people younger for longer.   

You’ve probably seen some of the movements…

Most people will be able to identify many of the traveling forms included in Animal Flow workouts.  Of the three main traveling forms:  Ape, Beast and Crab, only Beast has been more commonly referred to as “bear” or “bear crawling” in other areas of fitness.  

Here’s a translation chart:

Animal Flow -> Other Fitness Names

Ape -> Gorilla

Beast -> Bear

Crab -> Crab  

The really stuffy fitness crowd may be using terms like supine or prone, but for simplicity and memory of the Animal Flow movement catalog, animal names are best for identifying the patterns.

Adding Traveling Forms to my workouts…

Over the last few months, I’ve increased my weekly frequency of crawling and traveling forms from 1-2 times per week (only in warm ups), to almost daily and for much longer durations.  

I’ve posted several videos on the Meauxtion YouTube page demonstrating 5+minutes of traveling forms/crawling.  5+ minutes seems like a long time to be fixed in a crawling position but when you’re focused on soft interactions with the floor and body position, the time passes quickly.  

If you increase the tempo of the traveling forms (and transitions/switches) to initiate a cardio training effect, then yes, time drags on as it often does with other forms of cardio.

But crawling is an exercise thriving off of soft and controlled interactions with the ground.  There is virtually no impact force while crawling.  

Increasing the time spent crawling using it’s variation is more endurance related.  The limiting factor for long duration crawling might be hand/wrist conditioning, upper extremity 

How I use traveling forms…

When I’m looking to challenge my core and upper extremities with some loading but still engage in movement, crawling serves a valuable purpose.  Particularly on days where I wake up and feel residual fatigue or muscle soreness from the previous day’s resistance training or metabolic conditioning workouts.  

All three of the featured Traveling Forms have a couple variations:

  •  Fast or slow tempo
  •  Forward, Reverse or Lateral

If your new to Animal Flow exercises, slow and controlled tempo is a logical place to start, as it will allow for motor pattern education.  With practice, it will not take long to establish control in these positions.  

From there, the movements can be adjusted to a faster cadence in order to challenge your cardio. 

A is for Ape

B is for Beast

C is for Crab

Another “Why?” behind including more Traveling Forms… 

Here’s another reason for including more Traveling Forms in my workouts:  I find it interesting and I look forward to it.

With regard to training, I am a chronic justifier.  Meaning, in the past, I rarely train for the fun of it.  Every exercise, set and rep scheme, weight, duration could be monitored and justified to have a specific purpose.  

Don’t get me wrong, I have always enjoyed the challenge of training, but I have never really stopped and thought, “Man, I am really having a great time right now”.  

Animal Flow Traveling Forms injected some fun into my training regimen.  

One of the secrets of maintaining a healthy relationship with your fitness is to partake in activities you look forward to.  The human mind is too weak to sustain a workout regimen you’re not looking forward to.  You’ll fizzle out on it in time.

Animal Flow and Ido Portal Method training re-ignited my interest in exploring my movement capacity.  I love a good physical challenge, and these bodyweight ground-based movement patterns provide it every single time.

Engaging in more locomotion-based exercises reminded me it’s possible to leave a workout exhausted but REFRESHED, not beaten into a pulp.  

Lizard crawling for 10-15 yards (Ido Portal Method) can leave your body feeling as if you’ve never worked out a day in your life.  This is largely because it’s new and you haven’t done it before, I get that.  But the challenge of such ground-based crawling, even shorter distances, can’t be denied.  

One big benefit to learning the basics of Animal Flow is it’s rooted in bodyweight based training.  

What does this mean?  It means…

… everywhere you go, no matter what the circumstances or limitations, if you’ve got a little time and space, you’ve got an Animal Flow workout in your back pocket.  

The anxiety relief in being able to workout wherever and whenever is HUGE.  It may be hard to understand until you’re in the situation.  

For more info, check out the Animal Flow website.

 

 

Cheers to the Basics of Animal Flow,

Kyle 

 

10 Best Exercises for Burning Stubborn Body Fat

fat loss

In the gym, accelerating the process of fat loss is simple.

But, like anything unfamiliar, how to go about achieving fat loss can be confusing from the outside looking in.  

What exercises should I choose?  How many sets/reps of each?  How much weight should I use?  How many days per week?  How long should the workout last?  

These are all great questions.  If you’re asking them, you’re on the right track.

In the gym, maximum metabolic disruption is the name of the game.  

In 30-45 minutes, you should be able to train nearly every muscle, priming it for fat loss and lean muscle layering.

Do more work in less time to create a global training effect.  

In some cases, you may do more work in the same amount of time, which is still a form of progress.

I tricked you, I’m sorry…

In a way, I tricked you into reading this article by including “best exercises” in the title.  

For that, I sincerely apologize.  But to be honest, saying one exercise is going to magically burn all the fat off your body is a complete lie.  

One exercise won’t do it.  

What we could say is some exercises are a much better choice for fat loss, and even going a bit further we could say the combination of several exercises in a workout session will give your body the best opportunity to eliminate unwanted fat.  

Generally speaking, multi-joint compound exercises get more muscles working together are better than isolated exercises which have only one joint moving and fewer muscles.  

Important thought:  The best fast loss exercises are also the best exercises for almost any fitness goal.  

Just as no single exercise is going to melt fat from your body, no single workout is going to burn all of the fat off your body.  

A series of smart workouts will accelerate the fat loss process.

It’s all about creating a training effect.

How can workouts help with fat loss?  

  • Burn calories at time of workout (thermic effect of exercise)
  • Increased calorie burn after workout (EPOC)
  • Build lean muscle (requires more calories to maintain itself)
  • Increase resting metabolic rate (60-80% of all calories are expended at rest)

How do we create a fat burning state in the gym?  

There are a few time-tested methods to jumpstart the fat burning process:

  •  Higher Intensity Interval Training (cardio conditioning)
  •  Multi-joint Resistance Training (muscle conditioning)
  •  Multi-Planar Ground-Based Movement (muscle and cardio)
  •  Be inefficient.
  •  The combination of all of the above.

High(er) Intensity Interval Training

“High” is going to vary from person to person.  What may be “high” for me might be too high for you, or vice versa.  Instead, I choose to refer to interval training as “high(er)”.  

For the purposes of this article, let’s refer to high intensity interval training as cardio dominant activities where you exert at intensities that causes your body to go into oxygen debt during the intense work sets.  

This type a training has a precise work:rest format that can be monitored by time or a heart rate monitor (beats per minute).   

Rowing, biking, running are amazing activities for interval training which have a higher emphasis on cardio conditioning.

Multi-Joint Resistance Training

Resistance training with BIG movements like squats, swings, pressing and pulling increases the thermic effect of activity (calories burned during exercise) and metabolic rate.  Resistance training also builds lean muscle which requires more energy to maintain and repair post-workout than fat tissue.  

Multi-Planar Ground-Based Movement

At risk of sound cliché, ground-based movement is the new kid on the block.  It’s a brilliant paradigm shift in how practice fitness, building movement capacity and improving strength and cardio.  

Ground-based movement is a very broad description for low position drills like crawling, rolling, bounding, hand balancing, yoga, etc.  Much of the modern ground-based movement training has been led by Ido Portal and Mike Fitch (creator of Animal Flow).

Inefficiency

The more inefficient you are at an exercise or series of exercises, the harder your body has to work to complete those exercises.  Muscles fatigue faster and more energy (calories) is expended doing the work.  

*** If you’re going to leverage inefficient exercise, make sure you have some kind of prior background experience with that exercise.  Don’t jump into a set of kettlebell swings midway through a workout if you’ve never swung a kettlebell.  This poses a high potential risk of injury.  Not worth it.  

Instead, re-visit exercises you haven’t included in your training sessions for a while.  You’ll still know how to execute exercise technique, but your body will have lost it’s efficiency.

Nutrition Scolding…

[No fat loss article would be complete without giving a head nod to importance of nutrition.  Creating a caloric deficit, eating mostly plants with adequate amounts of protein and hydration with low/zero calorie beverages (aka: water) is in fact the magic behind much of losing body fat.  

Keeping calorie expenditure higher than calorie intake, along with choosing nutrient-dense foods and beverages that will sustain your activity level and nourish your body post-exercise is the path to fat loss.]

Progressive Overload and Baseline Fitness Testing…

Progressive Overload is a foundational principle to all movement training.  

To help decide the appropriate amount of progressive overload needed for each exercise (and shape the structure of your workouts) it is important to establish a baseline of your movement capacity.  

A baseline fitness test gives you information (however painful of a reality it might be) on where you are starting from, so a plan can be organized to make future progress.

A baseline fitness test can be very simple:  

  • How many strict bodyweight push-ups, squats, lunges, chin-ups/pull-ups can you do?  
  • How long can you hold a front plank, side plank, dead hang from a bar?
  • How many burpees can you do in 60 seconds?
  • How far can you bear crawl before stopping?

Once you’ve got a baseline, you can pinpoint not only the exercises, but sets and reps, time under tension, rounds, rest periods and duration.  

Here are my picks for 10 best fat loss exercises…

Burpees (total body)


The burpee might be the single most hated exercise on this list, which why it deserves first mention. Burpees are a total body movement that combines a hip-hinge, plank, push-up, squat, and jump, all in one shot.  

Burpees are a logical choice for this list because they are a bodyweight exercise, which means you can do them anywhere and anytime.  

Workout challenge:  How fast can you complete 100 burpees?

Animal Crawling (ground-based total body)

I’d bet a lot of fat loss articles don’t include crawling as a valid form of exercise to burn fat, but it is.

Basic crawling variations like the bear, ape and crab are examples of beginner locomotion drills that will challenge your core and upper body endurance like little else.

Ground-based bodyweight workout programs like Animal Flow are built animal-based exercises, designed to reconnect your body’s natural ability to navigate movement on the floor.  

Even if you’re tight on space, find a way to include crawling in your next workout.  Over time, you’ll notice crawling more consistently will do wonders for increasing shoulder health, upper extremity endurance and integrated core control.  

If you want to dive into the world of ground-based movement, check out Animal Flow.   

Workout challenge:  Bear crawling work capacity (4 rounds)

  • Round 1:  Strict bear crawl as far as possible (measure by distance or time)
  • Round 2:  Rest 30 seconds and repeat for 3/4 distance or time.
  • Round 3:  Rest 30 second and repeat for 3/4 distance or time
  • Round 4:  Rest 30 seconds and repeat for 3/4 distance or time.

Turkish Get-Ups (total body)

Turkish Get-Ups (TGU’s) is a layered approach to moving from lying flat on your back to 

Go from lying on your back to standing as efficiently as possible… with weight in your hand.  In slang terms, this what a turkish get-up accomplishes.  

Inside of a turkish get-up, you’ve got many exercises:  cross-body diagonal abdominal crunches, static overhead weighted holds, lunges, windmills, hip lifts.  

A turkish get up is a movement sequence with many layers, all of which can be practiced on their own to enhance your TGU proficiency.  

Workout Challenge:  Complete 10 minutes of Turkish Get-Ups (continuous)

Kettlebell Snatches (ballistic total body)


Kettlebell snatch workouts are legendary for boosting conditioning and burning fat.  The ballistic nature of the snatches coupled with the large amount of muscles used makes the training effect incredible.

Even 1-2 minutes of aggressive snatches will leave you gasping.  The design of the kettlebell and the exercise technique of the snatch allows for a natural flow from rep to rep.  

Personally, I’ve rarely seen my heart rate climb as high as it does when snatching a kettlebell.  

This means a large amount of work can be done in a short amount of time.  

Workout Challenge:  Secret Service Snatch Test (SSST) 

Thrusters (total body)

Squat and press, squat and press, squat and press.  

“Thrusters” are the combination of a squat and an overhead press.  Fusing squats and presses together creates a massive training stimulus.  Thrusters are pure work, which no real-time to rest between each repetition.  

Thrusters can be performed using a variety of training tools:  kettlebells, barbells, sandbags or dumbbells.  All provide a slightly different look at the same exercise.

Workout Challenge:  Every minute on the minute for 10 minutes, complete 10 thrusters.

Kettlebell Swings (ballistic lower body pull)


Kettlebells by design, are naturally a great tool to burn fat.  

Similar to kettlebell snatches, there is a tremendous amount of muscle tension throughout the entire arc range of motion in a kettlebell swing.  Speed of repetition and muscles engagement create a training effect unlike any other fitness tool.  When the hips get involved in an exercise, it usually means a global training effect.  

Workout Challenge:  Complete 15 sec swings, 15 sec rest for 24 rounds (12 minutes)

Sandbag Squats (lower body push)

The sandbag is one of the most underrated training tools out there.  Unlike a barbell which has rigid structure, sandbags are constantly shifting and changing shape.  This requires your body to make constant adjustments to these shifts and shape in real-time.  Whether you’ve got 100lbs in a sandbag or 100lbs on a barbell, weight is weight.  But, I guarantee you a 100lb sandbag is going to feel a lot heavier than a 100lb barbell.  

Mix up how you hold the sandbag when squatting.  Bear hug, front rack, underarm hook and shouldering will challenge your body in very different ways.  

Workout Challenge:  Descending Sandbag Squats

  • Set #1:  Complete as many reps of sandbag squats as possible without rest.  
  • Set #2:  Rest 45 seconds, now complete half the reps of Set #1.
  • Set #3:  Rest 30 seconds, now complete half the reps of Set #2.
  • Set #4: Rest 15 seconds, now complete half the reps of Set #3.

Chin-Ups/Pull-Ups (upper body pull)


No fat loss article would be complete without mentioning vertical pulling exercises like chin-ups and pull-ups.  For many, these will be the most frustrating exercises on the list because they are frequently the weakest lifts on the list.

Exercise regression is the path to your first chin-up/pull-ups and exercise progression is the path to building on that achievement.  If you can’t yet execute a full range of motion chin-up/pull-ups, you’ve got a couple effective options:  decrease the weight being pulled or practice one phase of the exercise.  

Stretch band-assisted chin-ups/pull-ups will decrease the amount of weight you’re required to pull on each repetition, making the exercise more manageable.  Wrap the band around the bar overhead, then down around the shin of a flexed knee or way down around your foot.  

If don’t have a stretch band, you can still make gains by practicing one phase of the exercise, the eccentric or lowering phase.  Start at the top of the chin-up/pull-up and lower yourself to the bottom as slowly as possible.  Eccentrics are well-known for producing muscle soreness, you’ve been warned.  

Workout Challenge:  Perform a 1-Minute Chin-Up

Push-Up Variations (upper body push)

Push-ups are my choice for best upper body pushing exercise.  Pressing exercises can be split up into two categories:  vertical and horizontal.  Vertical pushing extends the arms overhead and horizontal pushing extends the arms out in front of the body.  

Push-ups can be done anywhere, anytime with no equipment.  The variations are seemingly limitless.  The basic traditional push-up is a fantastic choice for metabolic workouts, as it requires little thought and set-up, yet worthy training stimulus to the core and pushing muscles of the upper body. 

Workout Challenge:  Perform 15 push-ups every minute on the minute for 10 minutes (150 total reps)

Lunge Variations (lower body pull)


Lunges are lower body exercise to train primarily the hips, hamstrings and adductors.  

Lunging is unique because it has many variations.  You could lunge front to back, side to side, rotationally, explosively, moving across a distance, on an incline or decline, or stationary if space is limited.    

Adding external weight to a lunge will challenge the core and grip muscles.  External weight could be placed in several positions:  arms hanging at the sides, chest height in a racked position, arms extended overhead, resting on the shoulders or varied (one arm hanging down, the other supporting weight overhead)  

If you want to go hands-free and make lunging more natural, a weight vest is a great option.  

Being able to lunge successfully becomes more important as we age, to preserve and extend quality of life.  Most times we get up off the floor into a standing position, we are essentially performing a variation of a lunge.  

Splitting your stance (not to be mis-read as “splitting your pants”) reduces the width of your base of support which increases the instability.  L

Generally speaking, if you want to make a lower body exercise more challenging without adding weight, here is how you do it:

Option 1:  Narrow the distance of base of support (squats)

Option 2:  Stagger the base of support (lunge)

Option 3:  Stagger AND narrow the base of support (inline lunge)

Option 4:  Partial support (rear foot elevated split squats)

Option 5:  Unsupported Single leg base of support (single leg deadliest or pistol squat)

I know option 4 and 5 are not technically a lunges, but the point was to lay out a nice progression to follow.

Workout Challenge:  How far/long can you lunge walk with 15 lbs (females) or 30lb (males) in each hand?

High Plank Rows (upper body pull)

Rowing while supporting yourself in a high plank position is a humbling experience, particularly for your core muscles.  Dragon flags and toe-to-bar are hyped as being incredible core strength builders, but high plank rows may make you rethink core training altogether.  

Alternate each arm while rowing.  For added challenge, pause the motion when the hand reaches your side, lower slowly.  The body tension needed to perform this drill is incredible.  You’ve got to be rigid from head to heel, front side and back side.  

Workout Challenge:  Perform 20 repetitions of high plank rows on each arm.

Try the workout challenges!  

Most of the challenges require less than 15 minutes of your time, and will be a good eye opener to the possibilities.  The workout challenges can also serve as baseline numbers to assess progress down the road.

The training options are only limited by your creativity.  

Now you can mix and match these 10 exercise to create effective workouts.

How to create a fat loss workout?  

Choose one exercise from each of the following movement patterns:  

  1.  Upper body pull
  2.  Upper body push
  3.  Lower body pull 
  4.  Lower body push
  5.  Total Body or Core Exercise 

Hybrid movements like burpees or thrusters combine several movement patterns into one exercise, compounding the amount of work being performed.  Most people will find hybrid exercises like thrusters to exhaust the body much quicker than if you performed a set of squats and overhead presses on their own.

How many reps per exercise?

Play around with reps.  Vary them high, very them low.  Generally, anywhere from 8-15 reps will provide a good training effect.  

Personally, I prefer keeping the reps on the lower side so I can increase the amount of weight for each exercise.  I have found the training effect to be profound with lower reps and higher loads.

How many rounds?  

Rounds are the cycles through each exercise and reps per exercise.  

Generally speaking, a great workout at the right intensity should go anywhere from 4-8 rounds, rarely more.  

If you’re able to push passed 8 rounds with ease, it’s probably time to increase the weight used or the complexity of the movement.  

How much rest between rounds?

Again, this will vary depending on fitness level.  However, 30-75 seconds is a good target amount of rest between working sets.  As your body adapts to the stress, you’ll find it’s necessary to decrease the rest in order to keep progressing.  

In tough workouts it might not feel like it, but the human body is brilliantly designed to adapt to physical stresses.  

You train and break down, you recover, regenerate and grow.  

Here’s another idea for resting between each round, descending rest periods.  

For example:

Round 1:  Rest 25 seconds

Round 2:  Rest 35 seconds

Round 3:   Rest 45 seconds

Round 4:  Rest 55 seconds

Round 5:  Rest 65 seconds

Round 6:  Rest 75 seconds

Using this rest period structure, you’re challenging yourself harder on the front end of the workout since rest is far shorter but the work remains the same.  As you progress through the rounds, your rest periods lengthen to accommodate the accumulating fatigue.  

Start right now!

Don’t read this and forget about it.  Read it, write it down and do it today or tonight.  

You have everything you need to organize several of these exercises into a workout conducive for burning fat.

Don’t over think it.  Choose exercises for each of exercises, 1-5 above and you’ve just designed a workout to torch fat.

 

Cheers to your workout…

Kyle