Kettlebell Swings|Benefits and Workout Ideas

Motion

Kettlebell Swings

The kettlebell swing is an explosive/ballistic exercise with a lot of benefits, including power improvement, strength, muscular endurance, posture, balance burn a ton of calories, making swings great for fat loss.

Swings can be easily integrated into any pre-existing workout regimen.  You don’t have to ditch your current routine, simply add swings to reap the benefits.  

Slip swings into a simple conditioning circuit with bodyweight exercises (calisthenics, crawling, etc) and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the difficult and training effect.  

Further down, I’ll share a few workouts to get you started. 

Very little space is required to swing a kettlebell, making it great for the home gym or travel.  

 2-3 high rep kettlebell swing workouts per week will do wonders for fat loss while minimizing muscle loss. 

Kettlebell swings do a great job of creating a lean and muscular appearance over time.

I’ll talk a little more about using high repetition kettlebell swing workouts below.  

The number of swing variations also a major highlight.  

Exploring swing variations can change the training stimulus, train rotation, work coordination to a higher degree, and keep workouts fresh. 

Swings are a top choice to invest time (and money) into learning, practicing, and progressing over time.  

Benefits of Kettlebell Swings

Total body power development

 Improving work capacity and conditioning

Impressive calorie burn (accelerating fat loss)

Perfect for the home gym, travel, outside workout

Comparable to running for building fitness

Simple learning curve

Injury prevention 

[Buyer beware: Swings aren’t a miracle, don’t expect immediate results from 1-2 workouts.  It doesn’t work like that.]

Total Body

The kettlebell swing works a lot of muscles on each and every rep.  

Swings are a ballistic (explosive) pendulum-like exercise that hammers the hamstrings, glutes, core, forearm, and back muscles all in one shot.  

To maximize power training, turn your focus on pulling the kettlebell through the legs explosively and “pop” the hips forward into an extension on every rep.  

Make sure the kettlebell appropriately weighted.  Swinging a kettlebell that is too light will not provide enough of a challenge for the powerful muscles of the posterior chain.  Explore different weights and be sure to increase the weight when it’s necessary. 

Calorie Burn and Fat Loss 

I really want to avoid going overboard with the potential fat loss benefits associated with kettlebell swings. 

For me, it’s not fair to label any exercise as being SUPREME to others for burning fat. 

And the fact is, nutrition you talk to the nutritionists, exercise and there are too many other factors influencing the amount and speed of losing body fat.

That being said, kettlebell swings burn a significant number of calories and can make a nice contribution to fat loss.  

The big takeaway, as it pertains to fat loss, is that kettlebell swings recruit a lot of muscles, and the work really adds up (calorie burn) if performed for multiple sets.  

A kettlebell swing focused workout could burn up to 150 calories in 12 minutes.  

One study, the study that every single article on the internet likes to reference, demonstrated up to 400 calories in an hour.  

I wouldn’t advise anything to perform just one exercise for an hour.  It’s too much.  

Kettlebell swings burn a lot of calories because they work a large number of muscles.  

In general, the more muscles working during an exercise, the larger the calorie burn of that particular exercise across time. 

Thousands of people have experienced amazing aesthetic transformations (in addition to performance gains) by adding kettlebell swings to their workout.  

Core Training 

Kettlebell swings condition the core in a really unique way.  

During each rep, the hips catapult the kettlebell up the arc of motion, while the lats pull the kettlebell back down. 

A fully active kettlebell swing hammers the core muscles, particularly while pulling the kettlebell back down through the arc of motion.  Actively reversing the motion at the apex of the swing hits the core muscles good. 

While the kettlebell swing might not deliver the same muscle burn (mostly due to lack of time under tension) through the mid-section (like Turkish Get Ups, L-Sits, or Dragon Flags), the core muscles are getting a solid dose of stress.

Scroll up and reference the first photo in this blog post.  

The core gets a workout during swings, no question.  

Improve Athleticism 

Kettlebell swings are amazing for training power and explosiveness.

The velocity component to kettlebell swings is a key ingredient to its effectiveness for improving power.  

Kettlebell swings can improve strength, but they are probably best thought of as an enhancer of strength. 

Swings serve as a supplement to strength exercises like deadlifts and squat.  

Muscular endurance is the ability to produce sub-maximal muscle contractions for extended periods of time.  Moderate to high rep kettlebell swings SHINE for building muscular endurance.  

Other notable athletic benefits include balance and coordination.  

Perfect for the Home Gym

Swings require very little space, making them PERFECT for a home gym workout.

Nobody’s home gym is a perfect space.  You work with what you’ve got.  And that’s fine because kettlebell swings shine in imperfect spaces.  

Kettlebell swings are a front to back pendulum exercise, so the clearance needed to swing is minimal.

Reach your arms out in front, then reach your arms behind your body.  If you didn’t touch anything, you’re good to perform swings in that space, no matter where it is.  

Swings reign supreme for home workouts because overhead clearance is not a factor.  The swing range of motion rarely rises above sternum height.

I’ve swung a kettlebell in bedrooms, living rooms, kitchens, etc.   

Being able to perform swings almost anywhere decreases the likelihood of missing a workout due to environmental constraints. 

Consistency is the gasoline that drives results.  

Kettlebells require very little space for training and storage and open doors to a ton of high-quality resistance training options.  

Great for Travel Workouts

Traveling?  Pack your kettlebell.  

Off-setting the long hours spent driving with active mobility training and a quality swing workout can unwind time spent sitting. 

Normally, people rely on bodyweight exercise or running while traveling.

The kettlebell can add a new dimension to the usual travel workout. 

Kettlebell swings integrate really well with bodyweight or suspension trainer exercise and can boost the training effect.  

Or, make a workout by combining swings with other time-tested exercises like presses, rows, squats, snatches, cleans, lunges, or Turkish Get Ups.    

Note:  Kettlebells aren’t ideal for air travel because of weight and having to lug it around the airport.  

Listen to Joe Da Sena talk about this travel habits with his 20kg kettlebell on the Joe Rogan Experience Podcast.

Low-Impact

For people who want to train hard, but need to limit high impact activities for one reason or another, kettlebell swings are a great solution.   

Kettlebell swings are a low-impact exercise that can deliver a potent cardiovascular training effect similar to running, accordig to this study.  

The subjects in the study swung extremely light kettlebells (in my opinion) and were still able to generate a aerobic training effect comparable to running.  

Low impact activities that have a high energy cost/metabolic demand can be great for a lot of people.  

Simple to Learn

For benefits, kettlebell swings are easy to learn.  

  1.  Hike and Hinge

 

Kettlebell Hip Hinge

Hike the kettlebell between the legs, hinge and load the hips, shoulders stay higher than the hips. 

2.  Root

Root #2Root

Pull the kettlebell through legs from the back to the front of the body,  “root” the feet firmly to the ground as the bell arcs upward.

3.  Float

Kettlebell Float

Float the kettlebell as it reaches the apex of the swing.  

Rinse and repeat. 

Common Mistakes:  

  • Avoid “lifting” the kettlebell or squatting the kettlebell. The best way to avoid lifting the kettlebell is to choose a weight you cannot lift.  People can muscle up lighter weight.  When the kettlebell is too heavy for muscling, you’re forced to power it up with hip action.  Avoid squatting by practicing the kettlebell deadlift, which has very similar mechanics to the swing.  The swing is a hip hinge, not a squat.  

Kettlebell Swing Variations

Kettlebell swings have a number of awesome variations to keep workouts fresh and challenging. 

The three most common swing variations are:  

2-hand swing

Single-arm swing

Hand-to-hand swing

The exercises above are ranked in order of learning importance.  Always start and train the 2-hand swing hard.  

Once you’re acclimated to the basic three, explore other swing variations. 

Hybrid swing variations:

Dynamic Forward and Lateral Single Arm Swings

Single Arm Swing and Catch

Staggered Stance Single Arm Swings

Band Resisted Swings Traveling Swings

Outside-the-Knee Swings

Side-to-Side Swings

The staggered stance single-arm swings are a personal favorite. 

Shift body weight to the opposite leg for a more aggressive loading stimulus on each rep and the rotational component of this swing variation is evident.

With a few different weight kettlebells, switching up the swing variations throughout the workout becomes a refreshing approach and a great way to train. 

Creating Workouts with Kettlebell Swings

Creating a workout using kettlebell swings is simple. 

Kettlebell swings can be performed in an isolated fashion without any other exercises or can be paired with other movements to create a 2-3 exercise circuit, building up to a complex style workout where 6-8 exercises are performed.   

Kettlebell ONLY Workout

Grab a kettlebell and swing it for 10 reps. 

After the 10th rep, stand over the kettlebell, don’t move.  

Rest for 30-45 seconds.

Complete 10 total sets.  

Feeling tough?  

Aim for 20 total sets.

Can 100 swings per day be a recipe for fat loss?  

This can serve as a workout finisher or as the workout.  Don’t let the simplicity fool you.

Kettlebell Circuits

Kettlebell swings don’t have to be THE ONLY exercise in the workout. 

You can increase a workout’s impact by adding other exercises to make a circuit. 

Example:

1a)  Clean to Overhead Press

2a)  Goblet Squat

3a)  Bent Over Rows

4a)  Push-Ups

5a)  Kettlebell Swings

Amplify the Training Effect Using Cardio Machines 

Mixing kettlebell swings with other equipment, cardio machines, bodyweight or accessory lifts is a great way to amplify the training effect of the workout. 

Most of these workouts are metabolic resistance training workouts. 

Low-impact workout:

1a)  Row, SkiErg or Airbike x 1-minute effort

2a)  15 Kettlebell Swings

3a)  15 Bodyweight Push-Ups

Rest for 60-75 seconds, repeat for 6-8 rounds.  

Kettlebells (not just kettlebell swings) pair with cardio machines really well. 

The effort on the cardio machine can be high intensity, but it doesn’t have to be.  Not all cardio training needs to redline heart rate to have benefits.  

Several days per week, I put in 60+ minutes of steady-state cardio on the air bike.  During the workout, I like to break up the monotony of riding with kettlebell swings and/or hip thrusts.  

Performing kettlebell swings saves your ass from falling asleep on the bike, puts you back in the standing position while delivering a potent training stimulus to the posterior chain. 

Finish the swings and start riding again. 

SkiErg

SkiErg is anterior dominant and kettlebell swings are posterior dominant.  Combining the two creates a non-competing, total-body training session. 

I love alternating between 8-10 heavy kettlebell swings and 100m-150m SkiErg sprints, for 10 total sets

This power-endurance type training delivers a punch with explosive efforts, cardio and calorie burn using a simple and effective workout. 

Rowing

The rower is a supreme piece of cardio machinery on its own, but when paired up with kettlebell swings, yikes.

Here’s a simple swing/row workout…

8 rounds of:

10 Kettlebell Swings

250m Row

If rowing, I do my best to accumulate at least 2000 meters in the session. 

8 x 250m = 2000 meters.  

My Results Using Kettlebell Swings

Earlier I mentioned my personal love of kettlebell swings, I want to share a little more about that because I think it’ll resonate with readers. 

Over the years, I’ve become an advocate of kettlebell swings purely from my own aesthetic and performance improvements.  

The aesthetic benefits were undeniable.  

High rep kettlebell swings create a training effect unlike any traditional cardio activity (running, biking, etc).  There’s more muscle engagement.  

I got lean and held onto muscle, not atrophied and skinny.  

Adding swings to my workout regimen improved other lifts and helped my running performance.  

The key is consistency (swinging several days per week), respecting progressive loading (can’t swing the same weight forever and expect different results) mixing in other swing variations to challenge rotation, stability, and balance. 

Kettlebell swings improved my power, similar to barbell cleans, but a different path of motion.   

The style of the swing matters.  

Adjustments can be made to kettlebell swings to elicit varying different training responses. 

The weight and reps per set can dramatically change the style of the swing.  

High(er) rep kettlebell swing work set is going to look and feel a little different because, at 20+ reps, we’re now dealing with muscular endurance and conditioning.  

Low rep efforts are pure power training.  You’re swinging that kettlebell as hard as possible, but stopping before it turns into a conditioning effort.  The goal here is NOT cardio, it’s explosiveness and power.  

High rep swings have diminishing returns for improving power.  

Short burst swings don’t deliver the same calorie-burning effect. 

Each swing style has its own advantages and benefits.  It’s all about what you’re hoping to achieve from your training. 

Swings remain my go-to exercise for getting sh*t done. 

 

 

 

Locomotion| The Weighted Lizard Crawl

Motion

The lizard crawl is a total body locomotion pattern, made popular by Ido Portal.  

As great as lizard crawl exercise (bodyweight only) is, there are simple ways to make it harder if you’re interested, and that’s what this post is about.

Crawling exercises can be progressed similarly to a squat, deadlift, bench press or any other traditional resistance exercise. 

The key is increasing the challenge somewhere, somehow.  Make it harder.  

Progressive overload (adding weight) is a key strategy to continue building fitness, especially strength.  It keeps you in progress mode. 

Exposing the body to progressively greater demands (movement complexity, load, etc) is a pathway to build strength and mitigate injury.

Weak bodies seem to be at a higher risk for injury.

If a given stress overloads tissues beyond their capacity, injury often results.

This is an over-detailed article about my experience adding weight to the infamous lizard crawl, the “king” of locomotion training. 

Progressive Overload

Know your options.

Conventional methods of progression include:  

  •  Add resistance
  •  Add repetitions
  •  Increase training frequency
  •  Increase volume (sets x reps x resistance)
  •  Decrease rest periods 

Halts in progress require a quick audit and a few simple decisions. 

Training the same movements with the same weight, time under tension, reps/sets, etc… will yield the exact same results.

And if this seems like common sense, please considered common sense is not always so common.  

Adding more weight to a lift, movement or locomotion pattern is not ALWAYS the answer, but more often than not, it is a solid solution to many of the problems people encounter in their training.

Don’t be afraid to increase the load, incrementally and intelligently.  

As highlighted in the title of this blog post, I chose to add weight to the lizard crawl as the mechanism of progressive overload.

From sloppy to strong…

When I finally decided to attack the lizard crawl pattern, adding weight was the last thing on my mind. 

Early on, even simple crawling patterns exposed my sloppy technique, lack of endurance and heavy-handed/footedness.

Crawling short distances (15-20 yards) wore me out quick.  It was humbling.  I felt weak. My story is similar to others I’ve heard and read about across the internet. A strong guy in traditional lifts who could not move well on the ground without weight.

Strict crawling drills crushed me.  Moving naturally with detailed precision is HARD. 

I experienced a pretty dramatic change in movement quality by practicing basic crawling patterns like Beast Crawls (forward, back, and lateral) and Bear Walks.  

I’d section off 10-15 minutes of EACH workout for crawling practice, and I still do to this day.

Gains with the basic locomotion patterns evolved into disadvantaged crawling in low positions. 

With near daily practice, I became extremely efficient with lizard crawling.  My body acclimated and now understands the demands.  Adaptation is a beautiful thing.   If you want something in the gym, attack the shit out of it.  Be relentless.  

Crawling distances increased, tempo and pattern variations were added along with introducing crawling backward.  

I reached a point where adding more volume became a time suck and borderline ineffective.

Lizard crawling requires a low-to-the-floor body position, aggressive joint angles and a constant on/off body tension from head to toe.  The upper body and core demands are intense.  Plus, it’s easy to get twisted up with hand and foot placement.  

The lizard crawl pattern connects traditional strength work with movements that exist in between.  The transitions, gracefulness, soft interactions with the floor, twisting, turning, propelling the body from point A to point B.  

The Weighted Lizard Crawl


I have to believe people have added weight this pattern before the writing of this blog post.  If not, I am a visionary

Regardless, I was humbled by this movement progression.  

I added a 40lb weight vest and a pair of 10lb ankle weights around each leg. A simple weight vest is a very natural tactic to add weight to movements while keeping the hands free.

The weight vest loaded the upper body/torso, while the ankle weights challenged the lower body.  Adding the ankle weights is a simple way to load the articulating motion of the hips.  

This articulating motion is similar to hip CARs, but a bit less isolated and strict.

When weight increased with any exercise, generally reps/sets, duration, time under tension need some relief.  Usually, it’s just for a short time to give the body an opportunity to execute quality work, avoid unnecessary training injuries and adapt to the stress.

Keeping all training variables the same would be too aggressive and unmanageable. 

Factoring this in, once I added the weight, I immediately decreased the distance of the crawl and increased rest periods.  

Previously, my average bodyweight lizard crawl distance was around 40 yards, broken up into a 10-yard crawl forward/10 yard crawl backward (twice down and back).  

For the weighted lizard crawl, I more than cut that distance in half, crawling roughly 10 yards (5 yards forward and backward).  On this day, I worked a total of 6 sets.  It was enough to leave soreness in the days afterward.

I’d recommend anywhere from 5-8 sets of 10-15 yards of a technique-driven lizard crawling. 

As I mentioned before, adding load commonly means taking longer rest periods in between efforts.  I wasn’t super detailed on the rest periods, but they were long enough to feel damn fresh.  

There is absolutely no need to rush this.  Do it right, or don’t do it at all. 

Equipment Used

 10 lb Valeo Ankle Weights 

 MIR Short Weight Vest

There are plenty of weight vest brands to choose from, but MIR is a trusted name and I couldn’t be happier with my MIR weight vest.  It’s durable and the short version is awesome.

Arguably, ankle weights are, well, ankle weights.  

Although I did get a nice product referral for the Valeo ankle weights from a great trainer in Philadelphia.  My only advice here is to size up and buy heavier than you’d think. Also, buy a set that has adjustability (ability to remove the weights).  You can always lighten them up if needed, but it’s nice to have heavy ankle weights if needed.  

So, I added weight, should you?

The crappy (but honest) answer is, maybe or maybe not.  It depends on your experience and goals.

Have you played around with increasing distance and tempo using bodyweight only?  

If not, start there.

Initially, leverage basic lizard crawl variations.  Gradually add distance and play around with tempo.

Practice lizard crawl press ups, modified range of motion crawls.  Place emphasis on body position, technique, timing, and mechanics.   

Aim for efficiency.  

People like to knock efficiency in training, but the fact is being inefficient at everything wastes precious energy.  At some point, you want the work being performed to feel natural. 

When it’s natural and fully integrated into your body, it’s useable in the real world.

Adding load to the lizard crawl, in my opinion, increases the challenge exponentially.  Far beyond anything I’d experienced before.

Once you’ve added weight, expect the silky smooth crawling technique disappear.  

You’re fully engaged in a hybrid variation of resistance training now.  Ha.  

Muscles and joints will need some time to fully understand the stimulus and adapt to it. 

Just getting started with crawling?

If you’ve not yet added crawling exercises (even the basics) to your workouts, you must.  Just try it.  There’s nothing to lose and everything to gain.  Don’t make the mistake of marrying any particular tool or method.  Explore everything and integrate what’s useful.   

I talk about crawling patterns often.  Progressive crawling is excellent for building natural movement strength, endurance, and skill.  If you’re an avid lifter, add 5-10 minutes of crawling to your warm up.

Unsure where to start with crawling?  

Vahva Fitness and my YouTube channel are great resources to get exposure to crawling.  Anyone interested in ground-based movement training of any kind is referred to Movement20XX.  

My YouTube channel is LOADED with videos.  There’s plenty to watch, not a ton of boring commentary and I am always available for questions and conversation.  Simply enter the “crawling” into the search bar. 

Closing Thoughts…

The purpose of this article is to introduce people to one simple strategy of increasing the difficulty of the lizard crawl. 

Start with bodyweight based lizard crawl variations.

Don’t be a dumbass.   

Earn tougher movement progressions by practicing the basics.  

I referenced several good resources above, make sure you check those out.    

Lastly, leave a note on your experience, I love hearing from people.  

 

 

Cheers, 

Kyle 

Basics of The Ido Portal Training Method

Ido Portal

Ido Portal

{Photo Credit:  www.idoportal.com}

Ido Portal Method training is taking off like rocket and growing in popularity every single day.  There’s 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.  

Very quickly, I realized Ido Portal Method was a different approach to “fitness”.

Ido Portal Method wasn’t pigeon-holed to doing things one way.  It was like an open platform of movement, capable of changing shape and direction, always seeking a higher standard.

The information I was taking in was unlike anything I’d seen before. 

Since my initial exposure, I’ve begun the process of digesting and translating Ido’s information.  This article represents some of that digestion and translation. 

The shift in my movement I.Q. has been profound, despite not committing 100% to his programming.  I’ve integrated many of Ido Portal style “beginner” movement drills into my own workouts with great success.  

I’ve also played around with my own variations of locomotion patterns.IMG_4167 

Above is a snapshot of a “feeler” lizard crawl exercise.  The goal of this exercise was to feel out the demands of the lizard crawl, from a strength, mobility and stability perspective.  

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 are some details on each phase…

Isolation

In the Ido Portal Method, Isolation based movement is essential to forward progress.  

Strength is a prerequisite.  You must continually work to become stronger.

Ido Portal Method Isolation = movement patterns.

Movement patterns include variations of:  squats, deadlifts, vertical pulling and pressing, horizontal pulling and pressing, glute-ham raises, rotational exercises, core training, olympic lifting, stabilization drills, kettlebells work, etc… all fall into the Isolation column.

Most of you will be familiar with these exercises.  

There’s also a heavy emphasis on high tension bodyweight-based strength training exercises in the Ido Portal exercise catalog.  

Body levers, hanging and climbing, dips, muscle ups, parallette work such as L-Sits, and Tuck Planches, single leg squats, single arm pressing, handstand push-ups and various locomotion patterns (crawling, rolling, etc.)

Gymnastics strength training.

Mixing traditional strength training with body-weight based exercise is a potent combination.  Both are time-tested, proven strength building strategies essential to physical development. 

I do not believe traditional strength training (barbells, kettlebells, etc) is superior to bodyweight based training (gymnastics rings, single arm/leg, etc)

Both can serve a valuable purpose in a training program.

Increasing one’s athletic capacities with Isolation style training is the path to being able to piece together movement sequences, and eventually improvised movement flow. 

Fitness is evolving quickly.  Today’s baseline movement standards and practices are much higher than they were 2 or 3 years ago.  

Taboo training methods such as rope climbing, moving odd-objects, locomotion, spinal waves and bodyweight-based training are now in the spotlight.  

Multi-planar strength and movement freedom.

The lightbulb moment and humbling part for me was realizing that the lowest rung of Ido’s movement classification system is what are commonly viewed as the highest rung of the ladder for most anyone else.  HIGHER STANDARDS! 

There’s a realm of physical training that exists beyond fixating on sets, reps, weight lifted, and racing the clock to set new P.R.’s.  

Handstands, leg-less rope climbing, ground-based movement flow training packed with locomotion patterns and bodyweight movement patterns are here.  Our bodies are designed to move freely.   

 Flow

Ido Portal Method combines the best of many movement disciplines.

Integration

Integration is the point where movement sentences are formed from the words (isolation).  

A squat, is no longer just a squat.  A squat fuses itself into a seamless flow with another movement pattern, no gaps between the two.  Through progression, more and more movement patterns are strung together.  A series of movement patterns formulating a “sentence” of movement.  

  • Sidenote:  Many will notice a heavy Capoeira influence in Ido’s teachings.

Here’s a video example:

The ground conditioning (locomotion patterns, Capoiera, etc) combined with gymnastics/bodyweight/traditional strength training, fused with flexibility and mobility work is NOT NEW, but since it’s being repackaged and people are seeing incredible results, it’s definitely creating a paradigm shift in fitness.  

Baseline movement standards have risen.  “Fitness” less about who can build the best looking body or lift the most weight (both respectable pursuits), it’s about moving and how your body can perform when confronted with the known and unknown.

The shift is on and people are taking notice.

Nike has…

Ido Portal Nike

Instagram is loaded with people who’ve discovered the movement culture.  

Another example of Integration…

Integration builds on the physical preparation from isolation training.  

Pre-planned movement sequences make up part of the Integration phase.  This is similar to a dancer demonstrating a choreographed routine.  Just because the routine has been practiced for months doesn’t make it any easier to execute.  

I’ve watched the “Locomotion Research” video 50+ times.  Watching someone move like water is inspiring.  The movement sequences demonstrated in the video are deceptively difficult.  

Ground-based locomotion is a multi-planar movement requiring a level of body awareness, joint range of motion and on again/off again body tension most people rarely practice.  A lot of it is quadrupedal, performed with hand and feet in contact with the floor. 

Again, I’m talking about scenario where it’s bodyweight versus gravity using various dynamic patterns (crawling, twisting, turning, balancing, etc).  Many of these patterns are animal-like.

On first exposure, people are often quickly humbled by the amount of mobilityvand strength needed for locomotion patterns.  You’ll be sore in the days after.

I’ve found variations of the Lizard Crawl to bridge the gap between “lifting weights” and putting those gains toward challenging movement patterns.

While crawling, there’s a feeling of connectedness, awareness, task oriented challenge.  I don’t get the same feeling from squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, etc.

Improvisation…

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

Dominating isolation exercises makes the transition to integration significantly easier.  

With consistent practice of Isolation and Integration, 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) are rarely expressing improvised movement.  Competition routines are all pre-planned, practiced and choreographed prior.  

Improvisation is the combination of isolation and integration.  You’re essentially making it up as you go, or “flowing”.  Though it will likely take years of dedicated practice, improvised movement flows are achievable.  

This is where progression becomes important.  

Flowing like Ido Portal doesn’t happen overnight.  This isn’t to say significant progress won’t be made, but like anything worthwhile, practice is king.  Gains may come fast, than slow, than fast, than halted, etc.   

I’ll spend less time describing the Improvisation phase of the Ido Portal Method because most folks need to focus on nailing down the elements of Isolation and Integration for a long, long time.  

In interviews, Ido has mentioned several times he thinks there is a dimension to be explored beyond Improvisation.  Where do we go after improvisation?  Ido wasn’t quite sure, but the feeling is that something else exists.

Levitation? 🙂

Isolation and Integration Progress

The Ido Portal Method represents an incredible shift with how we view and define fitness.  

Humans are made 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 in this way.  

It’s important to clarify that traditional physical fitness modalities aren’t obsolete.  Nor should they be.  

A person must spend a great deal of time gaining ground in the Isolation phase,  grooving technique, building strength, improving joint control throughout a range of motion.  

Hammering away on the basics (Isolation exercises, squats, pulling, etc) is fundamental to progress.  Further down in this article I’ve shared two training programs that will bring a person very close the foundational work needed to progress through the Ido Portal Method.  

At the end of the day, a stronger, more stable, more mobile, more resilient body makes for a more useful human.  A life lived through movement can be an exhilarating life.  

Training Programs Similar to Ido Portal Method

Several years ago, I started looking for alternatives to the Ido Portal Method because nothing was being offered through Ido’s web store link.  It seemed like there were plans to create a product, but ultimately it never came to be.  

Here are a few programs I highly recommend:

  • Movement20XX
  • Global Bodyweight Training
  • MyDailyMobility

All of these  program provides different benefits, but when used in combination, they create an extremely potent comprehensive training program. 

Movement 20XX  is the program for learning and practicing ground-based movement, locomotion patterns (lizard crawl, etc), building movement sequences and graduating to improvised flow work.  Movement 20XX is the best option in the ground based conditioning department.

Global Bodyweight Training teaches the potency of bodyweight strength training.  Strength is critical for performance and long-term health.  Pistol squats, one arm push ups, handstands, l-sits, body levers, upper body pulling, etc.  Only the most effective exercises are coached in GBT.  

MyMobilityDaily is a mobility based training system designed expand joint range of motion and create OWNERSHIP (strength, stability and control) over the range of motion.  Building strength at end range is CRITICAL.  The follow along techniques in MDM create full ownership over your joints.  The impact of dedicated active mobility training is the least understood technique in fitness.  It’s a game changer. 

The guys at MDM are teaching techniques from Functional Range Conditioning, which is the single best thing to happen to the fitness industry.  

Starting in on a quality mobility training regimen is life changing. 

I’ll have a full write up on why MDM is a game changer.

Here’s bit more about Movement 20XX and Global Bodyweight Training…

Movement 20XX

Screen Shot 2019-11-15 at 11.12.03 AM

Movement20XX is a ground-based bodyweight training system that teaches many of the locomotion patterns and flow work found in Ido Portal Method.   

Locomotion consists mainly of quadrupedal ground-based exercises like crawling (Lizard Crawl, etc), switches, transitions, etc… and you’ll find a ton of floor work inside of
Movement 20XX.  

Integrating Movement20XX into my own workout regimen has been a game changer.  

Flow training broke the monotony of traditional lifting and brought me back to natural movement, free of equipment, just me, my thoughts, my bodyweight and the floor.  

It restored the creative side of moving and put the spotlight on my lack of body awareness in space, mobility and strength.  

Depending on how I structure elements of Movement 20XX for the day, it’s also been great for strength-endurance work.  

Movement20XX is loaded with unique movement drills and smart exercise progressions.  

Novice or advanced, it doesn’t matter.

Movement20XX delivers training for all levels of movement, all of the way up to movement mastery.    

Movement 20XX introduction to ground based movement begins with pre-planned movement sequences, very similar to Ido Portal Method.

Crawling patterns, switches and transitions are all coached and practiced in isolation first,  then integrated into flow sequences, and later fused into improvised flow workouts.

Similar to Ido Portal Method, Movement20XX fuses ideas from many different movement disciplines to create a hybrid system of movement.  

The tempo of exercises and workouts can be manipulated to elicit a cardio-strength training effect or a dynamic yoga-like experience.

I’ve played around with adjusting the tempo, exercise variations and even brought Movement 20XX based exercises into cardio based work capacity circuits for conditioning.   

My Experience with Movement 20XX

I stumbled onto Movement20XX not long after finding The Ido Portal Method.  

At the time, I wanted to know what was beyond lift weights, adding weight, etc.  

Crawling patterns peaked my interest, but I wasn’t sure where to start or how to implement crawling into my workouts.

Natural, bodyweight-based ground conditioning seemed like a logical approach to filling in the gaps missed from traditional resistance training.  

My search began, and eventually led me to Movement20XX.  

The movement curriculum peaked my interest, so I hand-picked a few key exercises and movement sequences that fit my training.  

I started with the basics, and you should to.

The first few months of ground work left me feeling weak, wobbly, frustrated and sore.  

An athletic guy, I was humbled by simple locomotion patterns, left feeling uncoordinated, lost in space and flustered with the sloppiness of my movement.  

My spine was STIFF and lacked mobility.  Hips and shoulders were stiff, hamstrings tight, etc.

Years of “bracing”, “neutral spine” and stability training had left me SUPER STIFF.  

Yet, the more I attacked the movement curriculum, the more my body opened up and acclimated to the demands.  

My movement quality started to change.  

Flowinng around an open space for 20-30 minutes is liberating and outside of active mobility training, natural movement training has been a game changer.  

👉 Learn more Movement20XX, here’s the official website: Movement20XX

Global Bodyweight Training:  

Screen Shot 2017-12-11 at 6.12.15 AM

Strength is critical for improving human movement and control over bodyweight.

Bodyweight Athlete is a bodyweight based strength program designed to build premiere movement patterns, such as horizontal pushing, horizontal pulling, vertical pushing, single leg squats and progressive core training.

Bodyweight Athlete covers the following:

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

Improving efficiency of the movements listed above will have incredible transfer into ground flow training, locomotion, flow improvised work.  

Building strength with primary movement patterns is going to improve everything else.

Pressing, pulling, squatting, core strength and stability, etc.    

Sadly I used to think bodyweight training was dumb.  If I wasn’t lifting weights, results were compromised.  I’d dabble with push-up and squat variations, but not much else. 

When I finally committed to learning more about effective bodyweight techniques, my strength, control and movement quality improved rapidly.  

Adopting techniques shared in Global Bodyweight Training, I made swift improvements with locomotion patterns and flow sequences, made gains with traditional lifts and noticed my body leaned out even more.   

The workout design, exercise progressions and step-by-step tutorials make Bodyweight Athlete a great bodyweight-based program.    

   

Single arm push-ups are an incredible exercise for building pushing strength and core performance.

Developing single leg strength and efficiency is incredible for daily living and athletics.  A lot of life’s physical endeavors take place one leg at a time.

The human body is adaptation machine. 

With consistent practice and adequate time for recovery and adaptation, higher level feats of strength become a reality.

Positive results began to show up with the lower body and core drills.  

Using the right exercise progression and dosing the stress is POWERFUL.  

Strength (like many athletic qualities) is built with…

  • Smart exercise progression.
  • Progressive overload.
  • Progressive exercise complexity and volume.
  • Rest and Recovery.

Smart progressions are extremely powerful.  

Combining smart exercise progressions with simple accessory work like mobility, stability and flexibility training… strength gains can be made safely and quickly.  

Improving the basics of Isolation is often a missing link to building movement capacity.

Gaining strength is essential to improving movement capacity.  

Global Bodyweight Training’s program,  “Bodyweight Athlete”  will set you back $150.  

I wasted a TON of time trying to thread together my own program for free, collecting info from Ido Portal’s old blog, online forums and YouTube videos.  It was ineffective and a complete waste of time.  I wish I had that time back.  

The $150 investment was worth it for me, and I think it’ll be worth it for you.  

Bottomline…

Find a program and follow the details.  When movements, reps, sets, flows start to feel easy, move on to the next progression.  Celebrate your progress but don’t celebrate for too long.  Set your sights on the next challenge

Don’t be afraid to film yourself.  Take before and after videos to see the progress.  There are few things more motivating than to to see your movement (and your body) change.  It’s a highly personal experience and very rewarding.  You put in the work and you receive the reward.  

Speed bumps and stalls in progress are temporary.  Deliver the training stimulus, recover, adapt, attack the training stimulus once again.   

There will be days and weeks where you feel like you’re not gaining any ground on your goals.  

Strap in and train harder/smarter, increase the focus and intent.  

Above all else, keep challening yourself, stay disciplineed and consistent, and results will come.

Stay Tuned 

If you’ve enjoyed this post, check out:

Cheers to the Basics of The Ido Portal Training Method…

KG

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5 Minute Kettlebell Flow Workout

Motion

Here’s a challenging 5-minute kettlebell flow workout.

I’ve used kettlebell flows off and on for years.

Workouts are generally highly organized, predictable and step by step.

Kettlebell flows are the opposite.

A truly improvised flow session is unpredictable with no real agenda for using any specific exercise, and no designated reps per exercise.

You flow with whatever comes to mind, for whatever amount of time, without stopping to rest or putting the kettlebell down.

Most flow workouts are performed in the same spot, so they are space-efficient.  

Keep the kettlebell moving.

Best Exercises for Kettlebell Flows

Familiarization of the exercises in a flow is essential.

Don’t make the mistake of dabbling with movements you don’t have an intimate familiarity with.  I can’t think of a better way to get hurt.

When I’m setting up for a flow session, I use the following exercises the most:

Swings

Snatches

Cleans

Overhead Pressing

Around the World Slingshot

Lunges

Squats 

Rows

Windmills

Swings have a ton of variations and are a mainstay in any flow session.

Fluid transitions between 2-hand swings, single-arm swings, and hand-to-hand swings keep the kettlebell moving.

All of the ballistic kettlebell exercises (swing, snatch, clean) have a rocking/pendulum-like motion that creates opportunity for quick transitions between exercises.

Ultimately, any exercise is can be used for a flow.  

I just prefer quick transitions and constant movement, versus stop and starts.  

Love the Flow or Hate the Flow

People either love or hate kettlebell flow workouts.

I sit somewhere in the middle and understand the love and the despise of both sides.

The problem most people have with kettlebell flow workouts the “did it for the gram” type portrayal, where the user is twirling paperweight size kettlebells.  

Playing hot potato with a 15lb kettlebell is mostly a waste of time.

People also tend to use kettlebell flows TOO OFTEN.

Kettlebell flows make up about 5% of my training time.

The other 95% of the time, the focus is on building strength and power, active mobility, movement capacity, and cardio.

24/7/365 kettlebell flow training often delivers mediocre results.  

Training with too light of weight for too long creates little to no long-lasting improvements in performance or aesthetics.  

Sure, you’ll break a sweat, but sweating doesn’t mean you’re making gains.  It means you’re sweating.

I have an unbroken sweat streak going while mowing the yard on my riding lawn mower or walking for 30 minutes in 90degree heat.

Sweat is a cooling mechanism for the body.

Now, I’m not here to fully bash kettlebell flows, because the fact is I do play around with flow work throughout a training week.

Benefits of Kettlebell Flow

The benefits of a kettlebell flow training are having to improvise, change shape and adjust posture, coordinate each movement, catch, power up, move beyond accumulating fatigue, stay focused, etc.

Kettlebell flow workouts are challenging, both for the mind and body.

And honestly, flow training is FUN.

The gym is a place where people are rewarded for effort, consistency, and discipline.

But it’s also a place that can become insanely boring and monotonous.  

Flow training breaks up the monotony.

A more sensible approach would be to sprinkle in a flow here and there.

After the warm-up or at the end of workout once the big stuff is completed.

Advice: Use a Heavier Kettlebell

I wrote an article about the benefits of kettlebell swings, where I touched on people making the mistake of “lifting” the kettlebell during the swing.

It’s not 100% always true, but overwhelmingly,  lifting the kettlebell happens because the kettlebell isn’t heavy enough.

You can’t lift a kettlebell that’s heavy enough to train the powerful posterior chain muscles.

Try lifting a 24kg kettlebell completely horizontal up to sternum height with straight arms.

Hip action is everything with ballistic kettlebell exercises.

What does this story have to do with kettlebell flow workouts?

Pick a weight that you cannot lift with ballistic exercises like swings and cleans.

In most flow workouts, the snatch is the weakest exercise with regard to weight.

Most people can swing and clean a lot more weight compared to the snatch.

If snatches will be part of a flow, I select my kettlebell with heaviest weight I can snatch with control.

I use the same approach with kettlebell complexes.

These exercises are valuable only because of the explosive hip action needed to move the kettlebell through space.

Exceptions to Using a Heavier Kettlebell

Kettlebell exercises that cross the midline of the body are the exception to the “use a heavier kettlebell” advice.

“Lighter” kettlebells are best for cross-body movements, especially single arm cross-body variations.  Control is the name of the game here.  

Cast iron colliding with bone doesn’t usually end well.

My advice with cross-body exercises is to practice in isolation.  

Slipping them into a flow tends to diminish the returns of the other exercises.

In general, there’s no greater waste of time than grossly underloading exercises on a regular basis.  

You’ll spin your wheels in a vortex of a maintenance phase, forever. 

Improved Circular Training Options

Clubbells and macebells are amazing for circular strength training.

 

Clubbells and macebells have a longer shaft with the bulk of weight located at the end, which creates a more torque.  

Macebell 360 Swings| Technique, Benefits and Workouts

macebell

The Macebell 360 swing is a high velocity, total body circular strength exercise that makes an “around-the-world” path of motion traveling in front and behind the body.

Macebell 360 swings are a fundamental exercise in the macebell training catalog.

Beginners, novice all the way up to elite macebell trainees use the 360 exercise.

“Wait… What’s a Macebell?”

Macebell (sometimes referred to steel maces) is a dense ball of mass welded onto the end of a long steel handle.   

The Macebell 

The design of the macebell makes it a fantastic tool for circular movements like swings, because of the increased length of the handle (as compared the clubbells), creating a significant amount of torque.

 

Benefits of Macebell 360 Swings

I’m not going to spend a ton of time rattling off benefits, because listing benefits is a tired tactic to keep the reader’s attention on fitness blogs.  

And I get it.  You landed here looking to learn more about Macebell training and you want to know what’s in it for you.  

I read websites on various topics (most recently on how to grow a lush lawn) thinking “What’s in it for me?”. 

Here are a few notable benefits of Macebell 360 swings:

  •  Improved grip strength
  •  Cardio conditioning
  •  Rotational core training 
  •  Builds resilient shoulders
  •  Multi-planar exercises
  •  Pairs extremely well with other modalities 
  •  Valid calorie-burning exercise (contributing to fat loss)
  •  Fresh, challenging, engaging, different fitness training

Holding onto the macebell during swings and other exercises train the grip, pretty aggressively.  Especially as the weight of the macebell increases (grip strength) or the higher rep sets are used (grip endurance). 

Similar to kettlebell swings, macebell 360 swings are great to use for loaded cardio conditioning. 

Core training should expand beyond flexion/extension and static stability exercises.  Training the core for rotational performance using a macebell is FANTASTIC.  Macebell 360 swings can boost rotational power while also training the body to resist rotational forces (anti-rotation).  

The obliques get blasted during 360 swings, mainly due to the cross-body nature of the exercise.  

I talk a little more about using the importance of using dedicated mobility exercises down below, but the macebell does articulate the shoulders through a more robust range of motion than 90% of other exercises in the gym.  

Over time, the muscles and connective tissue surrounding the shoulder will gain strength, flexibility, and mobility.   

Just be careful to avoid overstress these soft tissue structures 😬 (thus the recommendation to build mobility/strength using active mobility training)

Most exercises are performed in the sagittal and frontal planes (very linear), which is fine, but 3-dimensional fitness should include moving in the transverse plane. 

Taking it a step further, workouts should include exercises and sequences that integrate all 3-planes in one shot.  

 

Macebell 360 Swing Technique

  1.  Mace starts in a vertical position in front of the body, hands near the bottom.
  2.  Tip the head of the mace to one side, allow the sphere to begin “falling” through an arc behind the body.
  3.  As the head falls, raise the hands up, over and behind the head (diagonal pullover)
  4.  After the mace passes behind the butt, “pull” it out through the remaining arc, drawing the hands back over the shoulder and in front of the body.
  5.  Reset in step #1 position before starting the next rep.  
  6.  Less reading, more viewing… watch the slow-motion video above.

    Injury

    What’s funny about macebell 360 swings, is that the torque and velocity (two great features of the exercise) are also what scares the living shit out of people when it comes to the risk of injury.

    You smoke yourself with a macebell and you’re going to be gun shy for a little bit.

    And I get it.

    When my 15lb sand 25lb macebells arrived I couldn’t wait to get into the gym and start using them.

    The excitement quickly faded after I skived the head of the macebell off of hip.

    Without question, there are real dangers and consequences of swinging a mace, but a person can mitigate the risk of injury by practicing introductory exercises and acclimating to the demands of the swing gradually.

    Every repetition, your body must produce force to get the macebell moving, but also stabilize and control the mace throughout the path of travel.

    The purpose of this article is to share benefits, technique tips/tricks, and how to use macebell 360 swings in workouts.  

    Macebell exercises are not more “dangerous” as compared to barbell cleans, kettlebell swings, or jumping onto a box.

    Learn the technique, work to improve it, you’ll be good. 

 

Correcting Shoulder Mobility Problems with Macebell Exercises

Macebells are frequently recommended as a mobility training tool for the shoulders and thoracic spine, and this makes me cringe.

I do not endorse trying to use weighted exercises as miracle cures for improving mobility.

My personal opinion… if you don’t own the range of motion (actively) without weight, you shouldn’t use weight to pull you into that range of motion.  

Seems like a recipe for disaster. 

Can 360 swings improve your shoulder mobility and function?  Yeah, they can.

Is it a good idea to bypass mobility drills like CARs, prone swimmers, and other slow and controlled mobility drills in favor of twirling weight around your body?  

In my humble opinion, no.

Take this as a word of caution.

You might be fine… but then again… you might not.

If throughout any part of the range of motion, the stress of the macebell swing (torque, velocity, acceleration and deceleration, shoulder position, etc) exceeds tissue tolerance, the risk of injury is increased.

The most vulnerable position is likely to be just before, during, and after the shoulders are extended (hands behind the neck) while the macebell is moving behind the body, this can be a compromised position.

And to be fair to macebell training, using a piece of weighted equipment in hopes of improving mobility isn’t just a macebell cautionary tale.

I give the same word of caution to every other piece of equipment, exercise, or activity.

Advice:  Work to improve mobility BEFORE swinging the mace, not while swinging the mace.

MyMobilityDaily is my top choice to learn effective mobility solutions that leverage FRC principles (functional range conditioning).  The program is streamed to your home and workouts are constantly being updated. 

 

Selecting a Macebell Weight

Start with a 10lb or 15lb macebell, but over time you will need to increase the weight to continue challenging your body. 

Lighter is better in the beginning.  A lightweight mace will give you more control and create more space for technical errors.  

Size up in weight with time and practice.  

Most macebells, one-piece and adjustable options, get heavier by 2.5 or 5lb increments.  

The human body adapts quickly to repetition and repeated stress.

Light/Midweight Macebells = Higher reps

Heavy Macebells = Low reps

Same as lifting weights. 

Creating Workouts Using Macebell 360 Swings

Here’s a common question I get:

I don’t recommend ONLY using Macebell 360 swings as the entire workout.

You could, but there are so many other great exercises and mobility drills, why isolate yourself to just one?

As part of a workout? Yes.  Just not the whole thing.

Now with that being said, you can test your cardio and strength with longer duration sets.  I’ve performed Macebell 360 swings for 8+ minutes without rest, alternating 10 reps in both directions and switching my grip periodically.  Tough little workout.  

I prefer total body training sessions.  

Throughout any given week, I’ll strength train (2-3 sessions), condition (2-3 sessions) and ALWAYS include mobility work of some kind.  

When I’m working macebell drills, it’s common practice to include bodyweight movements.  Bodyweight training pairs extremely well with just about any gym equipment (smooth transitions, variations, accessibility, etc)

Everywhere you go, bodyweight training is an option. 

👉 Vahva Fitness “Movement20XX” is currently my top program pick for learning how to move your body against gravity. 

Here’s a shortlist of great bodyweight exercises to pair up with the Macebell:  push-ups, hollow body rocks, crawling variations (forward, backward, lateral, lizard, etc) ground-based movement training, dive bombers, chin-ups, pull-ups, rows, squat/lunge/hip hinge variations, etc.

Save your grip.  If you are going to include exercises drain your grip (deadlifts, pull-ups, rows, etc), think it through.

Grip integrity is crucial while swinging the mace.  You let go of that sucker and it’s destroying whatever it hits.

If grip fatigue is a concern, consider skipping pulling exercises like horizontal rows and vertical pull-ups while you’re swinging, or simply shuffle those exercise to the back of the workout once swing practice is finished.

Non-competing exercises.  Unlike some exercises, Macebell 360 swings don’t suck away energy from other activities in a workout.

Sure, every effort in the gym is going to drain the fuel tank a little bit, but swings have more of a flow-like element to them, with less time under tension versus grinding exercises like squats, push-ups, and pulling exercises.

Here are a few 4 exercise circuits …

Circuit #1

Macebell 360 Swings x 10 each side

Single-Leg Squat (Pistol Squat) x 5 each side

Sliding Push-Ups x 5 each side

Hollow Body Rocks x1 0

 

Circuit #2

Macebell 360 Swings x 10 each side

Body Rows x 8

Single-Leg Deadlift x 5 each side

Rotational Side Planks x 8 each side

 

Reps.  I like 8-10 reps per side for beginners and novice.  After the last rep, rest for a little bit before starting the next set.  

Over time, feel free to increase the reps per side (15+) and the reps per set (30, 40, 50+ reps).

I like to accumulate reps in a session.  

Accumulating 100 swing reps per workout is not unreasonable and spread across several workouts per week, this is a great way to improve swing technique through volume, acclimation, and constant technique refinement.

You have to practice, practice, practice to play well.  

Macebell 360 swings are good to go for higher rep work sets.

Set a timer for 10 minutes and work until it sounds, or, aim for 6-8 rounds with limited rest (:30-:45 seconds) between each round.

I’ve worked up to no rest for the entire 10-minute work set, remaining cognizant of my technique and fatigue level throughout. 

*** Setting a timer and getting to work is a favorite exertion strategy of mine.  It allows for all focus to be directed toward technique/mechanics, body position, and timing.  

If at any point swing technique begins to unravel (fatigue kills technique) or grip integrity diminishes and compromises safety… REST!

If you’re looking for cardio combinations, well, you came to the right place.

I LOVE using macebell 360 swings inside of conditioning circuits.

This cardio circuit is a personal favorite:

Macebell 360 Swings x10 each side

200m SkiErg

Hip Thrust x15

If you don’t have access to a SkiErg, substitute wave drills with battling ropes (or next-generation reactive training tool: InertiaWave), towel snaps, or medicine ball slams.

But I’d recommend saving up for a SkiErg, it’s an incredibly unique and versatile piece of cardio equipment with a small footprint for home gyms with limited space.

Public Service Announcement:  Are you hip thrusting yet? (sounds kinda kinky, “that’s what she said”)  If not, add hip thrusts to your workout regimen.  Hip thrusts should be categorized as a primary exercise in my book (similar to deadlifts, squats, pull-ups, etc).  They’re AWESOME for building strong glutes and hamstrings.

 

Advanced Macebell 360 Variations

“Advanced” describes any variation beyond the basic Macebell 360 swing.  

Advanced variations introduce an additional technical element or movement that increases the challenge and training stimulus, making them more difficult.  

Here a few cool variations:

Macebell 360 High/Low Swings

By far, this is my favorite macebell combination.  

The flowing nature, swinging high and low in front of the body and behind, makes this combination challenging and addicting.

Start with lighter weight to feel out the demands and smooth out the technique of the combo.

Over time, you can increase the weight used and get the entire body twisting and turning.  

🦴 Foot Fracture Saving Tip:  Choke up on the macebell or flex at the elbows to keep the head of the mace away from the feet, or you risk DESTROYING your foot bones.

Macebell 360 Swing to Bicep Catch

If you like adding bicep work into your gym sessions, you’ll love this exercise. 

Slowing down a speeding macebell using an eccentric variation of a bicep curl is AGGRESSIVE.

On top of slowing it down, reverse the action and “throw” the macebell back into orbit by curling it back up.

 

Macebell 360 Swings vs Kettlebell Swings

Having read through this article, you’re now familiar with Macebell 360 swings.  In the kettlebell training world, kettlebell swings are a close relative to the macebell 360.

Macebell and kettlebell training are both ballistic drills, which are great for power development and conditioning (among other athletic traits).

During 360 swings, the macebell crosses the midline of the body from left to right and right to left on every rep, where the kettlebell swings pass between the legs from front to back in a pendulum-like fashion.  

Two different paths of travel train different muscles.  

For reference, here are kettlebell swings:

One of the glaringly obvious differences between a macebell and kettlebell is in the design.  

A 40lb macebell and kettlebell weigh exactly the same when placed on a weight scale, however, after lifting a 40 lb macebell, 10 out of 10 people would agree it feels 15-20lbs heavier.  

It’s pretty bizarre. 

The kettlebell?  Pretty balanced piece of equipment.  

Macebells and kettlebells have a different distribution of weight, handles and therefore each piece of equipment creates a unique training experience.

At some point, I’ll write up a “Kettlebell Training vs Macebell Training” article.

Instead of playing favorites, I suggested designating each tool to play to their respective strengths and “best” exercises and uses in the gym.  

Where to find/buy Macebells

I originally purchased my 15lb and 25lb from Amazon after doing extensive research.  

Most macebells are designed exactly the same, so it became a cost situation. 

Eventually, I went with these Apollo Macebells.

Hindsight being 20/20, I should have purchased the adjustable Adex Macebell.  

Similar to lifting weights, Macebell training requires progressive loading across time to make gains and avoid plateauing.

The Adex Macebell is brilliantly constructed and allows for incremental changes in weight from 5lbs to 50lbs.  

If you were to buy individual (one-piece) macebells in all of these sizes, they’d suck up a ton of valuable gym space while spending 4-5x the money in the end.  

Now, if you’re going to be working sledgehammer drills against a tire with the macebell, I recommend using a one-piece macebell for that. 

 

3 Hip Mobility Exercises to Build Hip Strength and Function

Motion

Active mobility training is life-changing.

LIFE CHANGING.

In my experience, most people are going to notice the most significant improvements from dedicated mobility training in the hip and shoulder region.  

Getting the shoulders and hips working nice, pain-free, strong, and supple is a good goal for ANYONE.

And I know saying that sounds really broad, but a body that works nicely without pain during movement is ideal.  

Today’s post shares 3 hip mobility exercises that can wake up your hips and make them feel great.  

I preach to play the long game with fitness.  Whether you’re pursuing a body transformation, performance gains, or general health improvement, it’s going to take time.

Nothing long-lasting happens overnight with fitness and movement.  

It’s a process.

But after “blowing the dust” off of your hip musculature with a few good work sets of active mobility work, your hips will likely feel amazing.

“Amazing” = buttery, mobile, alive, awake, workable, etc.

The basic premise of active mobility training is to increase range of motion (progressively) and establish full CONTROL over that range of motion.

We accomplish this using a variety of isometric holds and dynamic movements. 

Conditioning the hips, a ball-and-socket joint with a really robust potential for movement in many directions, to perform tasks beyond lifts like deadlifts, squats, and lunges is ESSENTIAL.  

Deadlifts, squats, and lunges are all great exercises to include in a workout regimen.  

No question.

My YouTube channel is loaded with variations of each of those movement patterns.

But, from a joint articulation perspective, these exercises only scratch the surface.

Your hips can do more.  Way more.  Mobility training can help retrain your body to access this movement.  

Don’t interpret my message as a call to stop lifting weights.   but rather an encouragement to deliver nourishment to your joints in the form of active mobility training.   

Dedicated mobility training can help mitigate injury while boosting movement performance. 

Building strong hips is can be made simple, and these 3 hip strengthening exercises will help to improve your hip control and strength.

90/90 Knee to Heel

Touch the knee to the heel.  

Position the hands in front and outside the lead leg, using your arms to prevent any contorting of the body.

While moving the leg, hover the knee an inch or two above the floor while the foot lightly glides.  Keep the floor pressure as soft as possible.

After touching the knee to the heel, drive the leg away from the heel as far back as possible.  

Squeeze the glute hard and PUSH!

Keep the torso calm throughout the drill.

Aim for 3-5 sets of 10-15 reps per side.

 

90/90 Heel to Heel

Same idea here, except right before the knee touches the heel, articulate the hip and lift the knee upward.  

Guide the trailing foot heel to contact the down leg heel.

Some people might refer to this as a “heel click”.  

Call it whatever pleases you, just make sure you try it. 

Lightly touch heels without losing body position before reversing the range of motion and reaching back.

On the reach back, SQUEEZE your ass cheek HARD.  REACH!!!

Aim for 3-5 sets of 10-15 reps per side.

90/90 Around the World

I wasn’t sure how to name this movement, “around the world” seemed fitting.

Perform the same knee to the heel, upward lift into the heel to heel, but return to the leg to the start position by extending at the knee and swooping the leg back into extension (with a subtle rotational articulation).

All of the hip mobility shared will burn up the muscles to some degree, but this exercise will really set them ablaze.

Again, do your best to keep the upper body calm.  Avoid excessive leaning or other compensations.

Stay strict, make the hips do the work.

Aim for 3-5 sets of 8-10 reps per side.

How to Make These Hip Mobility Exercises Harder

Slow down and increase the time under tension.

Test your ownership over the movement by moving slower.  Try moving at a 3-count or 5-count pace.  Add pauses when you find weak points and GRIND!

Add ankle weights.  

Wearing 2-5lb ankle weights load will make each of these hip mobility variations significantly more difficult.

Especially on the 90/90 “around the world” variation.  Your face will begin to melt onto your neck.  

A 5lb ankle weight will feel like 25lbs when your leg is at full extension.  🔥 

A simple pair of ankle weights serve a valuable purpose with mobility training, and if you didn’t find the bodyweight variations difficult, take a shot of whiskey because adding weight is going to increase the intensity quickly.  

Consistently practicing active mobility drills helped me make gains with my lifts.   

I fought the idea for years and talk about it frequently on this blog and in the description section of my YouTube videos. 

Deadlifts clean up.  Squats clean up.  Overhead movements clean up.  

I couldn’t touch the dragon squats for months.  It got to a point where I wasn’t even sure my bony structure would allow me to perform a full range dragon squat.  Ha.  Regressions provided limited improvements.  

 

My hips didn’t understand they could move into those “extreme” ranges without compromising safety.  Our bodies are equipped with amazing safety features. 

So I turned my attention to ramping up the mobility work (along with dragon squat regressions), and whammo… depth achieved.  

I prefer these Valeo ankle weights that are adjustable from 5lbs to 20lbs.  

For Best Results

Give every work-set full attention and focus and don’t let your mind wander during the exercise.  

Center yourself, and stay in the moment.  

Expect these drills to be humbling.  Moving the hips like this will light up the muscles different than any traditional exercise. 

You can expect soreness in the days afterward. 

One workout is not enough to make forever change.  Mobility, just like strength, requires ongoing TLC.  

Patience.  

It took a while to arrive at your current state, it’s going to take some time to reverse it. 

Give the body time to adapt to the stress to make room for the next bout of stress.

Related Posts and Resources:

14 Exercise Total Body Warm-Up Routine

Home Gym Workouts! 31 Exercises to Stay Fit and Other Fitness Things

The Weighted Lizard Crawl

MyMobilityDaily (best streaming mobility training program)

Home Gym| 3 Exercises and a Movement Game to Build Useful Muscle and Body Control

Motion

Fewer words, more videos.

From a usefulness perspective, video CRUSHES the written word.  

I could write 800 words about an exercise, or show you a :30 second video and deliver more clarity. 

I hope you view each video below and think, “Shit, that exercise looks fun/effective/challenging/engaging/different or applicable to my situation, I’ll try that next workout”.

Exposure to new ideas can change your attitude and enthusiasm about working out. 

Equipment needed for these exercises:

  •  Yoga blocks (hockey puck, shoe box, etc)
  •  Weight (kettlebell, dumbbell, etc)

I used yoga blocks for the upper body Yoga Block Game in the video below, you don’t have to.  

Use what you’ve got lying around the house (yoga blocks are extremely versatile, inexpensive and have a lot of uses).

Weight.  Any object of weight will work to load these exercises. Common household items can be substituted in place of dumbbell or kettlebell.  Use what you’ve got.  If the weight is challenges the movement pattern without compromising safety, go for it.  

In the meantime, look into getting yourself an adjustable kettlebell or dumbbell (adjustable fitness equipment are economical and space savers)

Quick Advice on Reps/Sets/Weight

Let’s address the two most common questions I get about most of my exercise videos:

“How many reps and sets do you recommend?

“What weight should I use?”

Good questions… but here’s the deal, only you know the answers to those questions.

I can suggest reps all day long.  

But if you’re cheating the exercise on rep 3 of a 10 rep set because your ego wants to practice the exercise variation from my video, but what you really need is a variation 2-3 steps back in difficulty… well…

Same goes for weight selection.  

Avoid the temptation to chase the “burn” during each work set and select a weight you can control every step of the way.

The Goldilock’s Rule for selecting weight:

Not too heavy, not too light… juuuuusssssstt right. 

Take a step back and take an honest assessment of your strength and fitness level, movement quality, and familiarity with the exercise(s).

Ego-Free Guidelines to Apply to any exercise:

  •  Start with lighter weight (move up in weight as needed)
  •  Quality reps only 
  •  Get to know fatigue and what it doesn’t to movement quality
  •  Move slow, move with control
  •  Patience
  •  Be in the moment, feel everything, remain mindful

Enough lead in.  

Here are a 4 (home gym approved) exercises and a movement game worth experimenting with in your next workout.

Split Stance Cross Body RDL

Have you ever had to lift an object from the floor without being able to get into a picture-perfect deadlift stance/position?

Me too.

Stagger your stance and shift weight onto the front leg.

Lower the weight (kettlebell, dumbbell, etc) along the outside of the front shin bone until it touches the floor outside of the foot.  

Pause briefly.  Stand back up.  

You should feel the bulk of the work from the front working leg hamstring up into the glute.

Slipping a little rotation into common movement patterns (hip hinge) is a good thing.  (So is rain to make whiskey).

Aim for 3-5 sets of 6-8 reps per side. 

Single-Leg Deadlift + Row

Coordination, balance, and timing are all put to the test with this exercise.

Grab the weight, hinge forward while balancing on one leg, row.

People get pleasure from bashing combinations like this because neither the deadlift or the row is “optimized”.

Interestingly, the same folks who poo-poo these exercises struggle to balance on one leg, sooooo….?

The purpose of this exercise is to be a movement challenge.  

Balance on one leg, maintain shape and control while rowing an object of weight.  

For perspective, this exercise variation isn’t my top pick to deadlift 500lbs from the floor.  There are better variations.

Also for perspective, performing a row with a challenge amount of weight while holding a single leg hip hinge is a difficult little maneuver.  

And how about the foot conditioning here?

Balancing on one leg is fantastic for strengthening the tiny little muscles underneath and surrounding the foot/ankle.  

If you can, remove your shoes while you workout.  Barefoot training is a really simple way to strengthen the feet.  

Hybrid/non-traditional movements like this one offer up something different for your body unpack and navigate, which IS the benefit in and of itself.

Aim for 3-5 sets of 6-8 reps per side. 

Yoga Block Game (Upper Body)

Objective: Push each yoga block out as far as possible.

I suggest going around the circle a few times because you’ll notice you’re able to push each block a few millimeters further on each attempt.

From my experience, when a normal linear set of an exercise transitions into a task or a challenge, people get competitive and the effort given increases.  

The entire front side of your body is going to be burning like a bonfire on this one.

Arms, chest, core, etc.  All of it… on 🔥 

Aim for 2-3 attempts, either during the warm-up or workout.

Hollow Body Rock + Single Leg Squat

Hollow Body Rocks and Single Leg Squats (aka pistol squats) are two fantastic exercises on their own.  

Here are links to each exercise:

Single leg squats are my go-to squat pattern.  I get a phenomenal training effect without needing a lot of equipment (for added weight) and there are bunch of progressive variations to further challenge mobility (ex:  dragon squats).

Single leg squats transition well into everyday tasks.  So much is done on one leg, it’s beneficial to train for it in the gym.

Hollow Body exercise variations link the upper and lower body together and might look easy from afar, but they‘re actually quite difficult.  

As an introduction to Hollow Body work, try holding a Static Hollow Body position for 30 seconds x 4-5 rounds (1:1 work to rest periods).

Good luck.  👍🏼  

Fusing Hollow Body Rocks and Single Leg Squats creates a whole new movement challenge.

The goal here is to make two exercises look like one exercise by creating smooth transitions.

Aim for 5 sets of 6 reps per leg. 

Isolated Exercises into Movement Combinations

If you’ve checked out my YouTube or Instagram pages, you’ll notice how often I fuse 2, 3 or maybe 4 exercise together to create movement sequences and hybrid movements.  

You can take simplest of exercises and morph them into a difficult movement combinations.

Always start by learning a movement pattern in isolation.  

Give your body a chance to understand the exercise.  

Your body will gradually make gains in strength, control and work capacity.

From there, explore fusing several exercises together, creating combinations, etc.

Down the road, play around with speeding up the tempo, change angles, twist/turn, change levels, use different training surfaces, add weight, etc.

Exercises like this is can provide a simple introduction to movement training and create a renewed interest in gym work.  

Which exercises are you going to try out today?  

Any of them?  All of them?  

Give them a try and leave me a comment down below.  

 

T’is all for today.

Kyle 

Uncommon Macebell Exercises

Motion

Macebell training provides a unique variety of exercise options mainly because the macebell has a weight distribution, shape, and design different than any other piece of fitness equipment.

The exercises a person can integrate into their workout regimen using a macebell are unlike anything else.

Every piece of gym equipment is a tool with different applications and uses.

The macebell, being a non-traditional piece of equipment for the modern gym, creates an opportunity to explore unique movement patterns.

360s and 10-and-2 are fairly recognizable circular/swinging exercises popular on social media, touted improving shoulder mobility and core stability.

I can’t disagree, but macebell training can go a lot deeper than just two exercises.

The macebell can be repurposed and morphed into a tool to challenge very dynamic rotational movements that include footwork.

The landmine-like exercise in the video above was tough, even with a 25lb mace.  Keep the arms extended at the elbows and reach as far out as possible.  Breathe.

Torque and Velocity

Macebells create a fantastic opportunity to train in planes with torque and velocities that other common gym equipment simply cannot.

Each of these movements presents a different challenge.

Enjoy.

Gravediggers

Gravediggers mimick the motion of shoveling and work great as a warm-up drill or for conditioning.

Play around with hand position on the shaft of the macebell.

Moving the hands closer together can make a 15lb macebell feel like 30lbs.

Add a twist at the top of the Gravedigger, rotating from the waist to the shoulders.

Flowing movements like this can be performed for higher repetitions, anywhere from 8-15 reps per side, for multiple sets.

Gravedigger + Push-Up Flow

A gravedigger, except keep moving forward, setting the mace down softly for a push-up.  

Back and forth you go. 

Squat to Press

Squat down while raise the mace up.  

Looks easy, but it’s not easy.  

Stationary High/Low 360s

Alternating high and low 360s is one of my all-time favorite combinations.  

The flow of this combinationon is addicting and the rotational aspect is very unique.

Be very, very, very aware of where the mace is positioned on the low swing.  

If you bounce the head of the mace off of your feet or shins, it’s all over.  

Even with lighter weight, you’re heading to the emergency room.  

To help avoid this catastrophy, choke up higher on the mace, which basically turns the mace into a club (it’s shorter family member).

You’ll be able to relax your mind and find a rhythm.  

Cross-Body Bicep Curls

Bicep curls using a macebell are freaking aggressive.  

First, you’ve got navigate absorbing the force of the macebell traveling with speed through the middle (while switching hand position on the shaft of the mace).

Hit the brakes, slow it down.  

Lower the arm into full extension, “throw” it back through the middle.  

I love this hybrid bicep curl.  

It’s a lot more engaging compared to a boring traditional bicep curl.  

360 + Bicep Curl Combo

Linking the traditional macebell 360 exercise with the previous mentioned cross-body bicep curl creates a very approachable combination.  

Core, shoulder mobility, biceps, force generation and absorption, etc.  

It’s all here. 

Rotational Skaters

Incorporating a little footwork with rotational movement brings us closer to the dynamic demands of sport and daily life.  

This is a tough drill. 

Firmly palm and grip the mass of the macebell while driving the hands inward toward each other to secure the macebell.

“Skate” and rip the macebell through the middle.  

Get aggressive with rotary compoent, but remember you’ve got keep enough control to push and stick the landing.  

Go with lighter weight.  The video shows 15lbs.

Adex Adjustable Clubs and Maces

It’s nice to have a few different macebell weights on hand for different exercises.

For example, the macebell I’m going to condition with using 360s is WAY heavier than what I’m going to drill rotational skaters with.

The problem is buying a bunch of one-piece macebells is it gets expensive and will clutter up a gym space pretty quickly.

Keep the gym space as open as possible is best (in my opinion).

Adex Adjustable Clubs and Maces provide a great compact solution.

With the purchase of an Adex Adjustable Macebell you’ll be able to quickly adjust the weight ranging from 6-30lbs in increments depending on your strength/skill level, along with the exercise.

Remember, some exercises will require lighter (or heavier) weight.

Need to go heavier?

The Rhino add-on kit increases the club weight options to 45lbs and macebells to 50lbs respectively.

Above 50lbs and you’re going to be buying a custom macebell from somewhere.

Prefer a one-piece macebell?  

👉 Here are several great options.

What do you think?  

Ready to dive into macebell training or at least add a mace to your home gym?  

Do it.  

Macebells are a very dynamic piece of gym equipment.  

You won’t be disappointed. 

 

 

One Kettlebell, 3 Fat Loss Workouts

Motion

Only one kettlebell?  NOT A PROBLEM.

There are hundreds of different movement combinations, circuits, and workouts that can be created using a single kettlebell.  

I actually prefer to workout with one kettlebell.  

Single kettlebell training allows for smooth hand-to-hand switches but also employs uni-lateral loading, which challenges the muscles on the non-working side to stabilize the body.  

Pound for pound, the king of all unilaterally loaded exercises is the Turkish Get Up.

The training effect will be profound and significant.  

Each exercise listed has suggested reps for that particular exercise.  

If your kettlebell is on the lighter side, which it might be, simple adjustments can be made to… 

… make lightweight feel heavier…

  •  Reducing or eliminating rest periods
  •  Slowing down the speed/tempo of exercises (check out this super slow push up)
  •  Adding reps to each exercise

In short, you can add reps, reduce, or fully eliminate rest periods or slow down the tempo of exercises to spend more time under tension. 

All of these options will increase the intensity of the work being performed. 

Note:  Some exercises are impossible to slow down.  

Swings, cleans, snatches are ballistic movements that need to be performed with explosiveness.  

Lunges, squats, deadlifts, core work, pressing, etc… can benefit from a slow tempo.

Perfect for the Home Workouts

Kettlebell and bodyweight exercises are PERFECT for home workouts.

Each workout below was created for people who are exercising at home.

I’ve been training exclusively out of my home for over 12 years, and I’ll never go back.  Learning about how to structure workouts at home can take some time, but once you get into a groove it’s really hard to return to the gym.  

Time and money savings are two HUGE reasons to exercise at home.

If you have a gym membership, including a home-based workout 1-2 days per week can save time and help accelerate your pursuit of fitness goals.  

Warming Up

Each workout should include mobility work for joint hygiene and function.  

Improving joint range of motion is a complete game-changer. 

Basic mobility drills are powerful for relieving nagging aches and pains and restoring function.  

A lot of mobility drills are bodyweight-based, so if you’re without much equipment you can still practice these and get all of the benefits.

Pretty cool. 

You came here for workouts, and workouts you’ll get.  

But if you’re in need of improving your useable range of motion (hint:  most people are), check out MyDailyMobility for daily workouts.

Workout #1:

8 Half Get Ups

8 Goblet Squats

8 Kettlebell Diamond Push-Ups

8 Bent Over Rotary Rows

8 Single-Leg Deadlift 

8 Burpees

Workout #2: 

Snatch

Clean-Squat-Press

Reverse Lunge

Split Stance Rows

Optional:  active rest using jumping jacks

 

Workout #3:

Squat to Press

Plank Rows

Hollow Body Rocks

Split Squat Jumps

Swings

 

Bonus Workout Finisher

Anything left in the tank?  

Give this workout finisher a shot… 

10 Push-Ups

10 Right Single Leg Hip Lifts

10 Left Single Leg Hip Lifts

The goal is to complete 100 reps of each exercise, as quickly as possible.

Perform 10 push-ups, then 10 right hip lifts, then 10 left hip lifts, then back to 10 push-ups.  Make sense?  

FULL RANGE OF MOTION REPS ONLY.

Don’t stop until 100 reps are achieved.  

A lot of people could benefit from more glute work, especially hip extension.  All that sitting has deflated our asses and has a looking like 🐢 ‘s.

Fill out those jeans 👖. 

Single leg hip lifts can be performed with back on the floor, or, back elevated on a couch, chair, coffee table or wood plyo box.  

The first few rounds will feel easy, but rounds 7-8-9-10 gets intense. 

Push-ups and hip lifts are non-competing exercises, so ramp up the intensity and do your best to complete 100 reps without stopping.

Anticipate a wildfire 🔥 starting in your ass cheeks, chest, and arms.

Want more home workout options?

✅ Check out these posts:

👉 Learn more about movement flow!

👉 Turkish Get Ups Kick Ass

👉 Home Workout Options

 

Jump Rope, Kettlebell and Bodyweight Workouts

fat loss, Motion, Workouts

A jump rope, kettlebell, the weight of your body, a small space and roughly is all a person needs to create workouts.   

How heavy of a kettlebell?  

Good question.  

I suggest a moderately weighted kettlebell for each of these workouts.  

How heavy is a “moderately” weighted kettlebell?  

Good question.

”Moderate” will mean something different depending on each person’s current fitness level and familiarity with kettlebells in general.

Select a kettlebell weight based on your overhead press, which is often the weakest lift for many people.  

Choose a kettlebell that gives you hell to press overhead for roughly 8-10 repetitions.

A generalized recommendation for weight selection is:

Males:  44lb (20kg) or 53lb (24kg)

Females:  26lb (12kg) or 35lb (16kg)

No kettlebell? Substitute a dumbbell or a sandbag instead of a kettlebell.  

If you don’t have access to a jump rope, you can:

  •  “Air rope” (pretend you are turning a jump rope)
  •  Bounce side-to-side like a boxer  
  •  Perform jumping jacks 

If you’ve got no equipment and the only option is bodyweight, check out some of these bodyweight-based workouts, here, here and here.  

Warm-Up

Before you start in on these workouts, please, warm-up with some mobility and light bodyweight drills

Here’s a 14 exercise total body warm-up:

 

Workout Structure:

  •  Target 18-20 minutes of continuous work, or roughly 8-10 rounds
  •  Take rest as needed, keep it brief.
  •  Add or subtract reps as needed.
  •  Get creative with different jump rope drills.

 

#1 Jump Rope + Clean-Squat-Press

30 second Jump Rope

6 Right/Left Single Arm Clean-Squat-Press 

 

#2 Jump Rope + Lunge + Row + Rocks

60 second Jump Rope 

6 Right/Left Reverse Lunges

8 Bent Over Rows

8 Hollow Body Rocks

 

#3  Jump Rope + Ground Game + Swings

30 second Jump Rope 

10 Kettlebell Swings

10 yard Forward/Backward Crawl

10 yard Sideways (lateral) Crawl

10 yard Crab Walk

10 Kettlebell Swings

30 second Jump Rope

 

#4 Jump Rope + Ground Game Part II

60 second Jump Rope 

6 Scorpions

8 Cossack Squats

 

#5  Jump Rope + Kettlebell (as many rounds as possible)

30 second Jump Rope 

10 Kettlebell Swings

5 Dive Bombers

10 Goblet Squats

 

These are simple, approachable workouts.  

If you’re training at home, each of these should fit your space.  

Stay active, stay healthy.   

 

How to Make a Home Workout Out of Crawling and Kettlebell Swings

Motion

Today’s home workout includes two exercises that are perfect for the home gym: crawling and kettlebell swings.  

The theme is SIMPLICITY.  

Combining two exercises might sound limited, but if you select the right exercises it can be a deadly way to achieve a total-body training effect. 

Workouts don’t need to be complicated to be effective.  There doesn’t need to be a long list of exercises to work through.  

Alternating between two non-competing movements reduces decision fatigue, makes the workout time efficient and keeps things focused.

I could design a 5-day per workout training program with each day focused on two major movement patterns and a sprinkling of cardio conditioning.

It’d look something like this:

Day 1:  Mobility, Crawling, Kettlebell Swings

Day 2:  Mobility, Upper Body Pull, Squat

Day 3:  Mobility, Cardio Circuit

Day 4:  Mobility, Turkish Get-Ups, Flow Sequence

Day 5:  Mobility, Upper Body Push, Deadlift or Hip Thrust

A person could slip a core movement in on Days 1, 2 and 5 to complete the motif. 

👉👉👉 Notice each workout starts with dedicated joint mobility conditioning. 🤔

But in the spirit of keeping the main thing the main thing… today’s blog post is about crawling and kettlebell swings.  

Wait, isn’t crawling just for kids?

Nope.   

Adults can reap the rewards of crawling throughout life, even if just from the perspective of re-learning a movement skill.

This article will cover the benefits of crawling and kettlebell swings, variations of both exercises and how to organize them into nano-circuits sure to test your metal. 

Crawling

Even the worst-of-the-worst home gym spaces and cramped hotels are crawling approved, which is why I love it so much.  

6-8 feet of straightaway space can accommodate a dynamic crawl.  Even if you had to train in place, there are ways to modify the crawl.    

THERE ARE ALWAYS OPTIONS.

If you’re new to crawling start with flat surfaces.  However, as you gain strength and coordination with the patterns, consider increasing the challenge by introducing obstacles, crawling over, under and around different terrain creates a whole new challenge.  

Most people will be humbled by the difficulty of crawling.  It looks easy but it’s not.  

The shoulders, chest, core, and hips tire quickly, which is not necessarily an indicator of an effective workout, but more so a point to make for folks who think crawling looks “too easy”.  

I’ve been crawling consistently in my workouts for about 3 years now.  My first few sessions really sucked.  I lacked coordination, had limited endurance and really had no connection with my limbs.  Hand and foot contacts were loud and sloppy.  

God bless the process of adaptation. 🙌

Let’s close out this section with a few known benefits of crawling:

  •  Spatial awareness
  •  Total body strength and conditioning 
  •  Coordination
  •  Confidence (movement skill education)
  •  Minimalist (can be performed anywhere, anytime)
  •  Scalable for beginners to elite movers
  •  Easily adjusted to elicit different training effects
  •  Pair well with other exercises (lower body, pulling, swings)
  •  Natural movement other than lifting weights and linear cardio

Kettlebell Swings

Kettlebell swings pack a punch considering how minimalist they are.  

If you’ve got 1 kettlebell, you’re GOOD TO GO.  And not just good to engage in swings.  You’ve got access to the entire catalog of kettlebell exercises, combinations, and workouts.

Like crawling, kettlebell swings can be performed in extremely small spaces, outside, hotel rooms, etc.  This makes swings an excellent exercise choice for home gyms.  

Loaded cardio training, which some refer to as metabolic conditioning, is a great fat loss accelerator.  Kettlebell swings, in particular, seem to strip fat but hold on to hard-earned lean muscle.  

There are many case studies of people who have undergone incredible body transformations by leveraging a basic caloric deficit and higher volume kettlebell swings.  

Power training is essential for aging adults.  As we age, we lose power roughly faster than strength.  Kettlebells swings can improve power with a short learning curve. 

Benefits of kettlebell swings:

  • Increased power for the go muscles (posterior chain)
  • Builds a strong back
  • Grip endurance
  • Quick learning curve
  • Minimalist… 1 kettlebell for a great workout
  • Time-efficient total body training
  • Cardio, both aerobic and anaerobic
  • Pair well with other exercises (ex: crawling)

Crawling Variations 

📺 Forward/Backward Crawl

📺 Sideways (Lateral) Crawl

📺 Bear Walk

📺 Lizard Crawl

You can see how the lizard crawl and bear walk differ with regard to hip position.  

Bear walks keep the hips high with the arms straight (soft elbows).  The lizard crawl drops the hips close to the floor and with elbows flexed.   

 

Kettlebell Swing Variations

The video above demonstrates 3 basic kettlebell swing variations:

  • 2-hand kettlebell swing
  • 1-hand kettlebell swing
  • Hand-to-hand swing

There are a lot more variations to explore, but I would consider these to be the fundamentals. 

We will pair these variations up with a crawling pattern for each of the nano-circuits shared below. 

Nano-Circuit Training

[I made up the Nano-Circuit description, so don’t go searching for any white paper support.]

Nano-Circuits are work-sets that include 3 exercises or less.  

Attacking smaller circuits with only 2 exercises being performed in alternating fashion for set reps or time is a great way to focus on the task at hand.  

Reducing the exercises removes the amount of thinking involved, or having to remember what exercise comes next and for how many reps, time under tension, etc.  

All of your energy can be directed at moving well.  

Here are a few ideas for you to try:          

Forward/Backward Crawl + 2-Arm Kettlebell Swings

Accumulate 20 yards of forward and backward crawling.  The target distance for the crawl should not burn you out on the first set.  After finishing the crawl, step up to the kettlebell and perform 10 swings.  

Side-to-Side Crawl + Single Arm Kettlebell Swings

Accumulate 20 yards of side to side crawl.  If 20 yards is too far, shorten the distance.  Upon finishing the crawl, step up to the kettlebell and perform 10 reps of 1-hand swings.  

The Medley:  FW/BW/Side-to-Side + Bear Walk + 2 -Arm Swings

Let’s shake things up a little bit and include forward, backward, side-to-side crawl, bear walk… and then 2-arm swings. Perform each crawl variation for 10 yards before switching to the next variation.  Swing the kettlebell 10 times. 

Lizard Crawl + Hand to Hand Kettlebell Swings

Obliques are going to take a beating with this combo.  The lizard crawl is one of the toughest crawling patterns. Lizard crawling might require shortening the crawl distance because of how aggressive it is.  Play around with it.  Perform 5 reps per arm with the hand to hand swings.  Use a lighter kettlebell if needed. 

I am a HUGE proponent of moving with discipline. 

Not every exercise needs to be picture-perfect from the get-go.

Beginners will feel and look wobbly, which is why selecting an exercise variation of the appropriate difficulty level is so important. 

Even with simple exercises, movement mechanics are rarely sexy in the early days.

No matter which exercise variations you choose, establish the discipline DO IT RIGHT, versus opting to do it fast, intensely or while versus blasting through it chasing burn. 

Generally, moving slow to learn exercises and develop strength, mechanics, and coordination.  

I think people chase fatigue by rushing through exercises far too early in the process.

Learn slow, create a solid foundation, then add in the sexy stuff.

A fun challenge is making a 10-yard crawl last 60 seconds or longer

 

Home Workouts! Bodyweight Flow to Challenge Balance, Mobility and Endurance

Motion

Bodyweight training can (and probably should) be the foundation of any home workout.

No matter where you go, what equipment is or isn’t available, bodyweight based exercise is a card that can be ALWAYS be played.

There many ways to design and organize a bodyweight workout.  

Varying the tempo, joint range of motion, training on one leg, changing levels, balancing, transitions between exercises are all ways to keep bodyweight training fresh and effective.

Today’s workout is non-traditional, imagine that. 

If Yoga, locomotion, and calisthenics got together, partied and made a baby, this flow would be the result.

Flow training is like a more dynamic form of Yoga.  

I find myself sharing a lot of slow-tempo movements and flow sequences on YouTube and Instagram.  

Subconsciously, it might be a knee-jerk reaction to counterbalance all of the high-intensity training videos out there.  

Removing momentum from movements can reveal strengths and weaknesses with regard to what positions and motions you own versus what you don’t.  

Here’s the bodyweight flow:

This flow is designed to be mirrored on the right and left side and can be performed as a warm-up or as the workout itself.  Changing legs on the single-leg squat will keep you alternating sides. 

If you choose to use it as a workout, set a timer and keep working for the duration non-stop.  

Aim for 20 minutes.  If you get 20 minutes, go to 25 minutes, 30 minutes, etc.  

You’ll be exhausted (in a positive way) moving like this for long periods, and it might be an eye-opening shift away from high-intensity training.  

Muscles will fatigue and heart rate will elevate, even though you’re moving slow and steady.  

This flow is low-impact on the joints but does require a decent amount of joint mobility. 

Focus on momentum free movement.  

Especially with the modified hip CARs (controlled articular rotations).  Do your best to ONLY articulate the hip joint without changing posture to do so.  Obviously, in the video, I’m moving elsewhere but the goal is to keep the movement at the hip.

CARs are incredible for joint health, especially the hips which are supposed super mobile, but oftentimes aren’t.

Most people lack mobility at key joints like the hip, which forces other joints to try and pick up the slack, but so commonly ends up creating greater issues (aches, pains, injury).  

MyDailyMobility.com is a really good follow along resource to keep up with daily mobility work.  The guys upload new workouts all the time.  Last time I checked they had 5 months’ worth of workouts for customers.

Similar to resistance training (muscle) and cardio (endurance), mobility must be practiced consistently for maintenance and improvement.

Use it or lose it.

[You can see me lose balance returning to the single-leg stance.  I could have reshot the video and uploaded a perfect rep, but I decided to keep the original because this flow will test your balance.]

After the single-leg deadlift (Warrior 3 to the Yoga peeps) descending to the floor gracefully is the next order of business.  While this flow is controlled, learning how to fall is a skill people could really benefit from, especially older folks.  

Lowering down to the floor stress your pushing muscles and core.  You’re basically hitting the brakes on the way down, and stepping on the gas to stand back up.  

Lastly, expect the final move to make you cramp at the hips.  It’s aggressive.  Squat down, lift the hovering leg as high as possible and REACH.  

Find the floor, transition through the middle and get deep into the Cossack squat.  

Flow completed.  

Stand up and start over.  

Movement sequences like this are perfect for a home workout.  

No equipment is needed, it’s just bodyweight, balance, expressing strength and mobility while flowing into and out of various body positions.  

🤔 Want to make this flow harder?  Add a weight vest,slow down the tempo ever more or speed up the tempo and move quicker.  

👉 Make sure to check out more M(EAUX)TION fitness content on Instagram and YouTube.