Natural movement flow is a key training element missing from most people’s fitness regimens.
Including movement combinations, ground-based exercises and sequences bridge the gap between linear resistance training and natural movement.
Practicing exercises in isolation essential for developing performance.
What is isolation?
Deadlifts, front squats, push-ups and pulling without the addition of any add-on exercises, using a work-then-rest format, is isolation.
You’re isolating an exercise and performing it for a set number of sets, reps and rest.
In a separate blog post, I dove deeper into Ido Portal’s general training template, which included an overview of his methods following this approach:
Isolation 👉 Integration 👉 Improvisation
Walk into any gym, and you’re likely going to see people exercising in isolation.
Perform a set of deadlifts, rest, check Instagram, a sip of water, then back to the next set of deadlifts.
This is the isolation phase of movement training.
If you’re looking to add a fresh challenge to your workouts, combining exercises together to create movement flow sequences is a great way to do that.
Several years ago, I started mixing and matching traditional movement patterns and non-traditional exercises together to create 2 or 3 exercise flow sequences.
Here’s an example:
Gym workouts and real-world movement can be very different experiences.
While I value pursuing a mechanically perfect squat, do I ever stop to align my feet before squatting in a real-world scenario?
The modified squat I’m using in a real-world situation is often combined with 1 or 2 other movements.
Squat down, lunge up, twist and carry.
It’s rarely every just a perfect bodyweight squat in the real-world.
One goal of controlled environment training (aka gym workouts) is maximum transferability.
We lift and conditioning with the idea that it will enhance the physical moments (daily tasks, sports, and recreation, health, etc) help us improve the functionality of our body.
Yet, natural bodyweight movement is completely absent from most workout templates.
Crawling, climbing, rolling, navigating changing levels (laying to standing, fall training, etc), rotation or fusing exercises together in a pre-planned movement sequence or improvised movement work where you don’t know what’s coming next.
Practicing how to transition efficiently and effectively between two different body positions or patterns just makes sense to me.
Benefits of Movement Flow Training
👉 Improve movement IQ (confidence, dissipating fear of unexplored positions and tasks).
👉 Coordination and skill-building.
👉 Improving spatial awareness and how to transition between movements.
👉 Strength at more angles and positions.
👉 Injury mitigation via conditioning tissues to handle stress.
👉 Improve mind-body connection
👉 Control over one’s bodyweight.
👉 Fun, refreshing, never boring.
Movement flow is very challenging for the mind, which to me, is one of the greatest benefits of flow work.
While you’re learning a flow, you really have to think it through to execute it properly and avoid getting twisted up, trips and falls.
“Ok, so my hand goes here, foot over the top, create tension, then relax, drop down, etc…”
The elevated thinking involved with a lot of ground-based movements is a major benefit.
Plus, introducing flow training is refreshing and fun.
Hours in the gym working the same exercises, chasing the numbers (weight increases, more reps, more sets, faster finishing times) can get quite bland.
Remaining excited every to move every single day is best for the long-term.
5 Bodyweight Movement Combinations
#1 Parallette Bar Pass Through to L-Sit
Parallette Bars are inexpensive to buy and easy to build from PVC pipes.
Start in a push-up position, passing the legs through the middle of the parallettes right into an L-Sit.
If an L-Sit is too aggressive, transition into a tuck position instead.
Hold the L-Sit for a 2-3 second count, then reverse the motion back to the start position.
Perform 2-3 sets of 8-10 reps.
Chairs, stools or yoga blocks a good equipment substitutes.
#2 High Bridge Rotation to Lizard Crawl
A reasonable looking back bridge used to be impossible for me. My body was stiff as a board and incapable of arching through the spine. My shoulders lacked mobility, etc.
Using dedicated joint mobility drills really accelerated the process, expanding the positions I was able to get into and out of, but bulletproofing my joints as well.
MyDailyMobility is my recommendation for mobility conditioning.
Today, I practice some variation of back bridging in nearly every workout, either as maintenance or to make progress.
High Bridge Rotations require an adequate amount of spinal extension, shoulder mobility, stability and strength, which is why I recommend adopting a mobility program to accelerate the process.
From an exercise progress perspective, practicing basic back bridges is the starting point.
Adding in the rotation will come after.
Transitioning out of the high bridge rotation can be a dizzying experience. Refocus your vision, lower down and crawl lizard-style.
The lizard crawl is an amazing strength and conditioning exercise.
Here is a variation better suited for beginners:
– Elbow Crawl
#3 Burpee Sprawl – Push Up – Squat – L Sit
Perform a push-up, hop forward into a deep squat position, place the hands on the floor slightly behind the butt cheeks as the legs extend and LIGHTLY tap the floor with the heels.
Reverse the flow.
Keep the sprawl motion soft and graceful.
#4 Lunge to Pistol Squat Flow
Lower body training is essential for health and performance.
Our legs need to be strong and well-conditioned, but also mobile and capable of expressing strength and stability throughout a large range of motion.
Especially the hips. Hip mobility training has been a game-changer for me.
This combination connects two movement patterns: lunges and squats.
During the transition from front to back, do your best to avoid making contact with the floor.
This is one combination probably best executed for reps.
3-5 sets of 6-10 reps per side will work.
#5 Lizard Crawl + Low Scorpion
This lizard crawl + low scorpion combination is a unique, high-value movement combination.
There’s no beginning or end with this sequence, which makes it a great bodyweight-based cardio alternative.
This flow is relatively compact, making it perfect for a small home gym or other imperfect training spaces.
Practice this sequence for repetitions or time.
I like to set a timer and go. Not having to keep track of reps allows me to focus on what my body is doing.
Time-wise, I’ve used this flow for 5+ minutes continuous and it’s a challenge every time.
Fusing movements together to create flows is a great addition to traditional lifting and cardio, and is sure to bring a refreshing challenge into workouts.
If you want to learn more about movement flow training, I highly recommend checking out the MOVEMENT20XX program from Vahva Fitness.
MOVEMENT20XX is one of the best movement-based products I’ve come across.
Eero Westerberg did a brilliant job organizing and communicating the techniques of each exercise, how to create flows and leverage this method of training to build a high functioning body.