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 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.

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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

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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 

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.  

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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.  

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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