Animal Flow| Scorpion

Animal Flow

Enjoy Yoga?  I think you’ll like Animal Flow.

Don’t like Yoga?  That’s ok, I still think you’ll like Animal Flow.  

Animal Flow is a ground based, bodyweight movement program.

It bridges the gap between stationary Yoga and free flowing bodyweight based movement.  If you’d like some background info about Animal Flow, check out this article.

Yoga is an incredible physical practice.  Slowing down to focus on centering oneself, breath, calming down the busyness of the day, simplicity over complexity, and the poses provide tremendous physical and mental benefits.  

That being said, there are instances when I crave movement beyond the yoga mat. 

I’m not alone here.  Approachable movement based training is a mode of fitness a lot more people are looking for.  Many of Animal Flow’s exercises, combinations and workouts are quite popular with my YouTube subscribers.

Beginner or a elite movers, at home, the gym or traveling, it doesn’t matter much when the movements are scalable, bodyweight based and require little space to do.

In this article we will shine the spotlight on Animal Flow’s Scorpion exercise.  

Scorpion is one of many primary movements in Animal Flow.  

Here’s what Scorpion looks like…

The Benefits of the Scorpion exercise include:

  Lengthening of the hamstrings and lats

  Opening up and activating the hips

  Thoracic spine extension and rotation

  Shoulder performance

  Rotation core training

  Uniquely challenging multi-planar movement

  Ground based, bodyweight based, equipment free, minimal space requirements

Scorpion Movement Technique

The end goal of any movement training is generally seamless, flowing movement with beautiful transitions.  Strength, stability, range of motion and conditioning all fuse together to create movement skill. Words will never do expert level demonstrations of movement justice, but we know it when we see it.  It’s fluid, seemingly free of flaws and confident.  

Then, the reality of the situation.  Most people who are new to ground based movement are going to trip over their limbs for a while before getting it down.  I call it “eating dirt” (aka: sucking).  The more you practice, the less dirt you’ll eat. 

So, lets dive into Scorpion exercise technique to provide a solid base of what the exercise should look and feel like.

Bottom Position

The bottom position of Scorpion involves trunk flexion and a bit of rotation.    

Cues:

  Eyes toward the hands

  Shoulders over the hands

  Round the back slightly to make room for the knee coming across

Slide the knee across the midline of the body to the opposite side elbow.  “Kiss” the knee cap to the elbow. followed by a reversal of the motion to initiate the upward phase of Scorpion.

* Tip:  Remove momentum from the cross-body knee touch.  Move slow and with control.  If you cannot touch the knee to the opposite side elbow without compensating, that’s fine!  Work the range of motion that you’re able to control.  

 **Warning: core cramping possible… crossing knee through the midline to the opposite side elbow is a tough little move and requires a decent amount of core strength and control. 

Top Position

At the top of the Scorpion, the body moves into trunk extension and rotation. 

Cues:

–   Head between the arms

–   Keep anchored leg as straight as possible

–   “Reach” with the elevated foot, squeeze this glute

–   Relax the jaw and neck (breathe)

After touching the knee to the opposite side elbow, reverse the motion back through and up, leading with the foot.  Move into a modified Downward Dog as the free leg adducts and opens at the hip.

Say what?   

Here’s what I’m talking about…

Scorpion feels…

Moving is a multi-sensory experience.  You hear, see and feel with every movement.  

Learning new movements can be less confusing if you can anticipate what to feel while performing the exercise. 

At the bottom position of Scorpion, most people are going to feel an intense core contraction.  The “burn” if you will.  Scooting the knee across the midline of the body to the far side elbow is a tough maneuver.  Locking the trunk into place isolates this move even more.

At the top position of Scorpion, you may feel a little burn in the elevated glute, stretch of the hip flexors of that same leg, along with a nice stretch running down the anchored leg from glute to the heel.  The rotation in the up position is great for a side body stretch, with focus on the lats leading up into the armpit.  

Personally, my lats (hips to arm pits) get a big stretch during Scorpion. 

How to Incorporate Scorpion into Workouts

As part of a Warm Up

Animal Flow and other ground based movement training are PERFECT for warming up before resistance training or cardio conditioning work.  

In this situation, you could organize the workout like this:

1.  Foam Roll + Active mobility training (Kinstretch, etc)

2.  Ground Based Conditioning (Animal Flow)

3.  Resistance Training

4.  Cardio

5.  Cool-down

This is a very simple workout template, but simple can be brutally effective.  

Spend 15-20 minutes working through the foam roll, mobility and Animal Flow movements.  Keep it brief and focused.  

As part of a Lift or Cardio Circuit

Scorpion works well as a filler exercise when paired more traditional lifts (chin ups, squats, deadlifts, lunges, pressing, etc).     The nice part about filler exercises is they should compliment your traditional lift performance.  If they are sucking away too much energy from these lifts, you’re using the wrong filler exercises.  

Here’s an example of a strength focused tri-set with the Scorpion as a filler exercise:

A1)  Chin Up

A2)  Front Squat

A3)  Alternating Scorpion

The tri-set above is loaded with benefits.  3 exercises.  Chin ups and front squats are strength based, while the Scorpion is simple ground based natural movement.   

If you’re looking for a cardio circuit, see how this grabs you:

3-5 rounds of:

10 Kettlebell Swings

10 Push Ups

10 Alternating Jumping Split Squats

10 Rows

3-5 Scorpions

—> Rinse and repeat.

In this workout, the Scorpions will be performed under fatigue.  If you’re not ready for Scorpions under fatigue just yet, opt for practicing while fresh.  

As part of a Movement Flow

Set a timer for 5, 10, 15, 20+ minutes and flow around a room using nothing but bodyweight movements you’re familiar with.  

Simple crawling exercises integrated with periodic switches and transitions is a great place to start.  


Add in some push ups, planks, squats, lunges, bending, reaching, twisting.  

Do it all.  Flow around and explore the space.  

Flow work can be organized or improvised.  Beginners might want to organize several exercises in a row for memory purposes, and eventually make the jump to improvised movement.  Either way, a simple movement flow session can be a welcomed departure from weightlifting.  It’s freeing, challenging and nourishing experience for the mind and body.  

Break the idea that every workout needs to be a redline work efforts separated by rest.    

Move around just for the sake of moving around.  Explore.  Transition into and out many different positions (reaching, twisting, crawling, bending, jumping, holding, etc)

A little nourishing total body movement training on an off-day can leave you feeling refreshed and better prepared for the next intense training session. 

 Unique, Multi-Planar Movement Kicks Ass

The majority of Animal Flow exercises are multi-joint and multi-planar (which is awesome), but don’t expect to nail down the technique on the first attempt, second or even the tenth.  These ground based movements aren’t as simple as curling or pressing weight up and down for reps, until the “burn” is felt.  

There’s most certainly a period of acclimation.  Practice will improve body awareness in space, strength, joint mobility and efficiency.  

Body awareness in space is a big benefit to ground based movement training.  Expanding and refining your body’s movement skillset is a fantastic pursuit.  

A person’s ability to confidently interact with the ground (ever-changing terrain, body positions, etc) throughout life is a valuable skill to have.  We take it for granted when we are younger, but as we age, it could be the difference between an injury and a safe fall. 


So, each time you practice, the movements will improve as your body begins to familiarize itself with the mechanics, point of view, joint performance requirements.  

It’s academics, for the body, best learned through repetition.    

Don’t be hard on yourself or judge technique off of early attempts.  

A lot of common gym exercises lack rotation.  I’m by no means a rotational training junky, but it is part of human movement and adding in a little rotation training can provide tremendous improvements in movement IQ.  

Lunges, squats, kettlebell swings, over head pressing, push ups and vertical pulling exercises such as pull ups and chin ups are all great exercises, but they lack rotation. 

Exercises like the Scorpion move the entire body through a unique range of motion, challenging the core, hips and shoulders.

Clearly, I am a fan.

If you have any interest in exploring ground based movement, I highly suggest investing a few dollars into Animal Flow.  Animal Flow is the best ground based movement system offered on the internet. 

 

 

Cheers to you, 

Kyle 

The Benefits of Animal Flow’s Crab Reach Exercise

Motion

Animal Flow’s Crab Reach is ground based exercise loaded with benefits ranging from being a potent movement to activate the posterior chain, stretching/lengthening of the anterior body , thoracic rotation, shoulder stability and general body awareness in space using an uncommon body position.  

Benefits of the Animal Flow Crab Reach

The benefits of the Crab Reach are many, but here are some notables…

  • Posterior chain activation and hip extension
  • Active Thoracic Mobility
  • Anterior body stretch (hip flexors, quads, torso)
  • Shoulder stability/endurance emphasis in loaded shoulder
  • Trunk rotation
  • Right and Left Side 
  • Low-impact

A Tool to Off-Set Sitting Posture 

The Crab Reach is a great exercise to battle/off-set the negative effect long duration sitting.  It’s not the only tool or the “best” tool, but a good one to implement on a regular basis.   

Reversing aches and pains caused by primarily long duration sitting requires dedication, discipline and volume.  There is no quick fix.  

A quick hip flexor stretch, thoracic mobilization and glute bridge is not going to cancel out 8+ hours of sitting in the same turtle-like, wound up position.  

Body restoration takes time, effort, consistency and volume.  Lots of repetitions, likely lots of time and an aggressive mindset.  Assuming you’re doing everything right, expect improvements to occur steadily, but slowly.  

  Sitting for long durations often evolves into a slumped forward posture.  Despite how inactive sitting might seem, maintaining posture in a chair across 8 hours is not realistic.  

At some point, the head starts to migrate forward,  shoulders turn in and slump forward, the back rounds, the pelvis gets stuck in anterior tilt, the low back extends to make up for it, the powerful glute and hamstring muscles lay dormant as they are smashed into the chair, the anterior body often shortens (abdominals, hip flexors, quads, etc).  

Sounds depressing and it is.  Sitting when you’re body is tired of standing/walking and ready to rest in a seated position is normal.  Sitting because you’re job forces you to is another thing.  

Ok, so why is the Crab Reach a good exercise for helping with the negative effects of sitting?

Quite simply, the Crab Reach is the reverse position as slumped over sitting posture.  

Nearly every shitty side effect brought about by sitting is worked in opposition during the Crab Reach exercise.

The Crab Reach recruits the posterior chain to drive the hips up into extension, tilting the pelvis to a neutral or maybe a posterior position, the hip flexors open up, the back arches and extends through the thoracic region, torso rotates actively, the shoulders open up (weight supported shoulder stabilizes while free shoulder reaches diagonally), head posture is back and rotated, the hip flexors/quads fall into stretch while the torso elongates and rotates.  

Reading the above paragraph is a lot to take in, but in slang summary, the Crab Reach is the opposite position of sitting and a damn good tool to use every single day.  

The end range motion (the high position with arm reaching over the top) of the Crab Reach is an active position.  You have to be active to get to that high position and remain in that high position.  

  Making range of motion progress requires active involvement of the muscles.  Many popular mobility and flexibility drills are passive.  Static stretching is passive flexibility.  The muscle is elongated and maybe range of motion is increase, but very little of the gain is useable.  The downside to passive mobility and flexibility drills the range of motion gained isn’t necessarily useable, since the body wasn’t actively pursuing and “coding” in that range of motion, acknowledging the motion as “Yes, ok, I actively went here and I know I can go here safely again”.   

The Crab Reach is active the entire of the way.  

Uncommon Movement

The Crab Reach is an uncommon exercise.  

Including an exercise into your program simply because it’s “uncommon”  may not seem like a strong enough reason to practice a new exercise pattern, but ongoing exposure to progressive movement patterns and positions is an effective strategy for training the Central Nervous System, improving movement IQ, capacity and confidence.  

The concept here is simple: if we do what we always did, we will get what we always got.  

To make yourself a better mover means exploring movement.  So, when you’re body is craving an unrestricted, multi-planar approach to your next workout, feed it with some ground based conditioning.  

Practicing postures and movement patterns that are less common to daily life improves physical and mental confidence.  Improving strength, mobility and stability in uncommon movements makes everyday exercises feel easy.  Performing basic tasks around the house or at work becomes more of a game.  

Training Rotation

When we look at the average person’s “workout of the day”, it’s generally packed with linear resistance training and cardio. 

The objective for those who find themselves stuck in a linear dominant training program, should consider adding some multi-planar movement into the mix.  

The Crab Reach is a multi-planar exercise.

Each rep moves the body through the Sagittal, Frontal and Transverse Planes all in one shot.  

Most (not all) workouts are lacking rotation.  Lots of squats, upper body pressing, jumping, pulling, deadlifting… but very little deviation from linear exercise.  

Take quick audit of your training regimen.  Are you twisting, turning, rotating on a regular basis?  If not, integrating simple movements like the Crab Reach will fulfill the rotation element, effectively opening new doors to your movement training.  

Including an exercise into your program simply because it’s “uncommon”  may not seem like a strong enough reason to practice a new exercise pattern, but ongoing exposure to progressive movement patterns and positions is an effective strategy for training the Central Nervous System, improving movement IQ, capacity and confidence.  

Over time, if you’re like me, you’ll likely find yourself executing basic tasks with some creative flare, versus bending, squatting, reaching, twisting movements like it’s a pain in the ass. 

I don’t have all day to workout.  So, with the time I do have to train, I prefer leverage exercises that kill many birds with one stone.  Being a multi-planar exercise, the Crab Reach is an ideal pattern.  Every repetition activates the posterior chain and stretches the anterior body while reinforcing thoracic rotation, shoulder stability and breath.  

How to Incorporate the Crab Reach

Ground based bodyweight movement is extremely versatile, so don’t assume how I suggest using the Crab Reach is how you have to use the Crab Reach.  Use this article for ideas, or, maybe as the blueprint for your next workout.     

In the spirit of keeping it simple, there are several primary ways to start practicing the Crab Reach:  in the warm up, as part of a lifting session or as part of a flow sequence (organized or improvised).  

Of these three ways (warm up, workout or flow), the Crab Reach can be practiced in isolation or as a combination.  I always recommend practicing new movements in isolation to increase focus on technique while getting in tune with your senses while moving.  I believe isolating an exercise to better understand the mechanics and demands is best.  It allows you an opportunity to “feel all of the feels”, pay attention to breathing, tightness, etc.  

Isolated Crab Reach

For the intermediate or advanced, combining the Crab Reach with other Animal Flow exercises keeps training challenging and fresh.  

Here are a few worthwhile combinations:

Side Kick Through + UnderSwitch + Crab Reach

Crab Reach + Spider Man Stretch (aka:  Elbow to Instep)

Slow and Controlled Improvised Animal Flow Workout

Warming Up with the Crab Reach

Animal Flow exercises are perfect for pre-workout warm ups.  The movements are dynamic, full range of motion and take the body through just about every position.  Increasing the tempo raises core temperature and increasing respiration.  All great things.  

As part of a warm up the Crab Reach is an effective, low impact and full range of motion exercise.  Driving the hips hard recruits the posterior chain, diagonal reaching reinforces thoracic rotation while unwinding the spine into extension, the spinal erectors flip on to further arch the back, the loaded shoulder stabilizes the weight of the upper body all while the anterior body (quads, hip flexors, torso) gets a nice stretch.

Crab Reaches serve as a valuable closed chain movement drill prior to deadlifting, kettlebell swings or any other hip dominant exercises where expressing hip/thoracic extension and mobility is important to technique, strength and power.   

Crab Reach as Part of the Workout

Positioning the Crab Reach as part of a Tri-Set is a great way to isolate and practice the exercise while staying active/productive during a strength training session.  

Here’s an example a simple Tri-Set:

Exercise A)  Front Squats 

Exercise B)  Chin-Ups

Exercise C)  Crab Reach

The Crab Reach fits nicely in this Tri-Set and doesn’t take away from the Front Squat or the Chin Ups because, again, it’s low load complimentary to those exercises without sucking away valuable energy.  

Crab Reach Reps/Sets/Time and Practice Recommendations 

Starting out, I worked 6-8 reps per side and I tend to recommend keeping the reps lower in the beginning while focusing a slow and controlled tempo through the range of motion.  

After you are feeling good about the technique, increase the volume.  

Don’t be shy about bumping up the reps to 15-20 reps per side, or even setting the timer for 2-5 minutes and alternating the right and left side continuously until the timer sounds.  

The Crab Reach is a low-impact exercise with a very low risk of injury.  Adding more repetitions (volume) is a nice way to hone in on movement efficiency.  

Example… 

A small open space on the floor can provide hundreds of different options to organize a bodyweight based training session, even with no equipment available.  But I’ve found that acclimation to the mechanics of bodyweight patterns pre-workout warm ups or in combination with traditional lifts works best.  

Over time, I began practicing longer duration improvised flows using nothing but bodyweight movements, transitions, flows, locomotion, etc.   

Example… 

Flow Training with Crab Reach

Create a simple bodyweight flow circuit, emphasizing the Crab Reach periodically throughout the flow.  

Structure several exercises in a row.  Start with two main exercises separated by a switch to keep it simple.  The video above, “Side Kick Through + Underswitch + Crab Reach” is an example of a simple movement sequence.

For an added challenge, increase the number of exercises to 4, 5 or maybe 6.  Of course, doing this will make it more of a challenge to remember the sequence, but it will also challenge the body move through many different patterns.  Adding more exercises to create longer flows is great for the mind-body connection.  

The tempo of your thinking must match the tempo of your body’s movements.  

Whether you pre-program the sequence or improvise the flow, will likely depend on your movement IQ and knowledge of  basic options (exercises, transitions between patterns, etc).  

The ultimate goal of movement training is improvisation.  This idea was plucked right out of the Ido Portal Method.  Ido Portal Method teaches movement using the following hierarchy:  

Isolation —> Integration —>  Improvisation

Following this operating system will give your workouts a new purpose.  

Improvised Movement

Improvised, seamless movement, is the ultimate goal of physical activity.  

Moving however you want, whenever you want without thought is an amazing destination of ground based movement flows.  

Bodyweight flow workouts only need a plan if you want one.  

Otherwise, make it up as you go.  Be creative.  Explore the possibilities.  Move all around the room, explore positions.  

Do it all.  

Syncing thought processing speed with movement tempo is an integrated approach to building the human body.  You’re not just reading a book trying to absorb knowledge or pedaling a stationary bike for hours without thought, you’re bringing together the cognitive with the physical.   

Warning:  Expect to suck during the first couple of attempts at improvised movement flow.  It’s likely to feel and look sloppy and segmented, nothing like you pictured it.  Practice makes progress, volume makes progress.

Here’s another cool, unscientific benefit of practicing progressive improvised movement flows… 

… daily exertion starts to feel like a movement game.  

I’ve had this feeling playfulness toward physical exertion of any kind since limiting linear resistance training in favor of movement based training, and I know others have had similar an experience.  

The idea of moving sucks when you aren’t moving.  If you’re a couch potato, your body adapts to the lack of exertion and falls into the pattern of wanting to remain in that state.  But when you’re proactively practicing movement, making progress and seeing/feeling improvement, you begin to crave it outside of the workout as well.  

What’s happening during improvised movement progress?

I’m starting to get off topic, but real quick, here’s my take… 

Reaction time to various physical stimuli decreases and uncommon patterns and ranges start to become second nature.  It’s a pretty neat feeling to own more and more patterns, angles and positions without taking time to think if you’re able.  This constantly expanding approach to movement creates limitless possibilities.  

What do you need to do this?  If you have some open floor space or a yard, get creative and perform a variety of crawls, transitions, switches in any order for as long as your fitness can handle it.  Transition quickly and as seamlessly as you can.  

Inside of a flow workout like this, consider isolating the Crab Reach from time to time.  Hold the high position, dig in for more hip extension, more diagonal reach, relaxing the breath and the neck.   

I mentioned getting off topic a bit, I apologize for that.  The main message is that exercises like the Crab Reach are cash money when practiced in isolation, but they are also small (but valuable) puzzle pieces in a much larger movement picture.  

Programs like Animal Flow emphasize the value of each individual movement pattern, but clearly recognize the bigger picture.  The result is a human being that is more physically prepared.  

I hope I’m making some sort of sense here.

In Summary…

  • Bodyweight ground based movements are effective for building strength, mobility, endurance and movement IQ
  • Animal Flow’s Crab Reach a versatile exercise that can be performed anywhere and anytime.  
  • Benefits of the Crab Reach include posterior chain activation, anterior body lengthening, thoracic mobility, body awareness in space.
  • The Crab Reach is great include in warm ups, during the workout or as flow training.  
  • The Crab Reach is an effective exercise to help mitigate aches/pains from sitting, restore function.
  • Improvised movement flow is the end destination of all movement. 

Animal Flow

Naturally, Animal Flow is referenced throughout this article because the Crab Reach is an exercise within the Animal Flow program.  Animal Flow exercises are progressive, unique, and scalable for the beginner all the way up to folks who are seeking movement mastery.   I’ve written a few other Animal Flow related articles covering basic principles, exercises (and progressions) and flow combinations.  

Animal Flow is one of a only a few premiere fitness programs I’d ever suggest to anyone and I highly recommend seeing if it fits your fitness goals.  My YouTube channel is loaded with Animal Flow demonstrations.  

If you’re interested in bodyweight strength training, “Bodyweight Athlete” is worth your time. It’s another Mike Fitch creation (the creator of Animal Flow) and offered under the parent company Global Bodyweight Training.  “Bodyweight Athlete” goes in-depth on effective bodyweight strength training, which compliments Animal Flow’s ground based movement perfectly.  Read more about it here.  

A Giant List of Effective Core Exercises| Part 1

Core Training

Direct core training is an essential part of any workout program. 

The fitness industry gets into highschool level fights over whether direct core training necessary, but since I believe in training the entire body…

…. core training is a must.  

Boom. 

In a way, if your core sucks, you suck.

A strong core protects the spine and serves as a conduit for force transmission between the upper and lower body.  

Ground reaction forces travel from the feet, up through the mid-section and out through body tips of the fingers.

Highly controversial fitness trainer Uncle David Weck taught me that.  

If the muscles that wrap around the torso are weak or under-performing, energy leaks and both performance and function can suffer.  

A strong bodies has a strong core.

A balanced, comprehensive approach to core focused training will calbrate the body to properly absorb force and produce force in all planes of movement.

This is a giant list, so let’s not waste any more time.  

Here are 15 different core based exercises worth slipping into your next workout…  

1.  Anti-Extension Roll Outs (Ab Wheel Roll Outs) 

For $15 on Amazon, you can purchase an Ab Wheel Roller.  Ab Wheel Roll Outs are anti-extension core exercise, great for building not only core strength but core endurance.  

In a tall kneeling position, slowly roll out way from the knees. 

During this rollout motion, cue your hips to fall outward at the same pace as the upper body. 

Roll as far out as you can control.  If the lower back caves, you’ve gone to far.  

Pull yourself back in using your mid-section, lats and pec muscles (gripping the handles hard). 

During the most difficult portion of the roll-out,  “hollow” out the mid-section. 

The hollow body position tucks the ribs down while the navel curls toward the ribs.  The result is a curved body shape or the “hollow” body.  

 

2.  Turkish Get-Ups 

As far as productivity and global training effect, Turkish Get Ups (TGUs) are hard to beat. 

Turkish Get Ups are a total body exercise. 

The goal of the Turkish Get Up is to transition from a lying position (supine) to a standing position, reverse the order and return back to the original lying position.

Controlling the weight during the up-down sequence is fatiguing not only for the core but for the loaded shoulder as well. 

Turkish Get Ups are best performed with kettlebells or dumbbells, though nearly any object of weight can be substituted.  I’ve used sandbags, liquid filled milk cartons, barbells, weight vests, shoes, and weight plates to name a few.  

Turkish Get Ups are best learned by isolating and practicing each segment.  

Stabilizing the weight overhead is can be draining for the stabilizing muscles of the shoulder.  However, the time spent in this over-chest/over-head position is fantastic for building shoulder stability, which can help with injury mitigation and performance.  

Standing up and laying back down equals one rep.

Sidenote:  I’ve used Turkish Get Ups as my “workout of the day” for years.  I set a timer (10, 15, 20 minutes) and alternate sides until the timer sounds. 

I use a variety of weights during this time, work several repetitions in a row without putting the weight down or mix up the way I stand up and lay back down for variation (squat, lunge, etc).  I’ve added a simple press at each of the 7 steps, performed kettlebell swings cleans and snatches at the halfway point (standing position).

3.  Dragon Flags

Iconic martial artist and movie star Bruce Lee made Dragon Flags famous.

 

Dragon Flags (and variations) are one of my favorite core exercises. 

Why?  Because they’re hard as hell!  

Dragon Flags require a tremendous amount of effort and total body tension.  

Ly on your back, grab onto a bench, squat rack, heavy sandbag or any other immovable object with the hands positioned above the head. 

Raise the feet up to the ceiling.  Making the body as straight as possible from ankles to shoulders, begin lowering to the floor.

SLOW IT DOWN, resist gravity’s pull.

Working the descent of the dragon flag is known as the “eccentric”.  For beginners, only focusing on quality eccentrics is just fine.  

If you’re feeling strong, Advanced Trainees can reverse the eccentric and ascend back to the top. 

Do not lose the straight line from head to toe.

After listening to Gymnastics Bodies founder Coach Christopher Sommer’s podcasts with Tim Ferriss, I dropped Dragon Flags into my workouts as a mainstay core conditioning exercise.  

You can find smart dragon flag exercise regressions and progressions from Global Bodyweight Training.  

4.  Dynamic Plank Variations 

Planks are a fundamental static core drill and a position worth exploring. 

The video demonstrates rotational side planks.  

I use these (and many other plank variations) frequently. 

Reps, sets and time to hold each plank exercise is a highly debated topic. 

If you can comfortably hold a plank for 90-120 seconds without strain, you’re likely wasting your time and the return on effort has diminished. 

Move on to more challenging core work. 

4. Crawling

Crawling is a critical component for early childhood physical development, but also effective for building strength and conditioning in the gym.   

The more “adult” we become, the more we move away from activities we engaged in as kids.  

This is de-evolution.  It’s not good.  

You either use it, or you lose it.  

And as adults, we tend to move less and less with age, and if we do move, it’s generally isolated to linear walking or machine-based cardio.   

Adults need to revisit moving like they did when they were kids.  

Get on the floor and crawl.  

5.  Lizard Crawl 

The Lizard Crawl is an advanced crawling pattern and probably the king of all ground-based crawling variations.  

Ground-based conditioning is bodyweight training with no equipment needed.  

6.  Offset/Asymmetric Pressing and Holds 

Grab a dowel, barbell or a stronger broomstick. 

Dangle an object (with a handle) like a kettlebell or wrap a resistance band on one end. 

Now, press or hold that dowel without changing body position or allow the object to slip off.  Confused?  Me too.  Watch the video above and it will all make more sense.

Objects we encounter in life are rarely perfectly balanced. 

Weight is often distributed unevenly, which means we have to adapt to awkward loads, recalibrate on the fly and push on.  

7.  One Arm Push Ups 

A lesson in indirect core training, one arm push-ups will challenge the muscles of the midsection better than 95% of core based exercises. 

One-arm push-ups train single arm pressing strength like few other exercises.  

Global Bodyweight Training does a great job laying out exercise progressions leading to the one arm push up.

8.  L-Sits (all variations)

L-Sits are a beginner exercise in the gymnastics training realm. 

Very humbling to think about it with that perspective, since L-Sits are a tough ass exercise.  

Creating an “L” between your upper body and lower body (at the hips) extremely taxing for the hip flexors and lower abdominal muscles.  

Starting out, you’ll have to dial back the duration of your L-Sit efforts to 5-10 seconds of work, with plenty of rest between each effort.   

In time, the duration of the hold will increase as your body adapts to the demands.

Of all of the basic gymnastics postures, I have found L-Sits to be an absolute game-changer for building core strength. 

Including L-Sits in my workouts, 2-3 times per week has increased my hold duration time from a few mediocre sets of 10-15 seconds to 30+ seconds with legs moving above parallel.  

9.  Arch Body Holds 

Lay on the floor face down, arms and legs stretched out straight above/below. 

Lift the upper body and lower body at the same time, arching your back toward your butt.

Hold this Superman-like position for 5-10 seconds and release back to the floor. 

Repeat for repetitions.  

Progress Arch Body Holds by increasing the time of the hold.  

10.  Hollow Body Variations (rocking and static holds) 

Hollow body holds (progressing into rocking) conditioning the entire front side of the body, from fingertips to toe tips.

The quads, diaphragm, abdominals, hip flexors all get some love during hollow body training.

11.  Toes to Bar

Toes to Bar improves core strength, midline endurance while improving grip, shoulder health and back performance. 

Prolonged hanging from a bar, branch or anything overhead is therapeutic for the upper body.  

There are few different variations of the Toes to Bar exercise, kipping (ballistic) or strict.  

12.  Bridging 

Bridging is can help offset the modern-day desk warrior posture.  

Following the lead-up bridge positions and working shoulder and mid-back mobility, hip flexor flexibility and glute strength can inch you closer to a full bridge.

I’d also suggest training active mobility.  

MyDailyMobility is a follow-along mobility program with updated workouts every week.  Taking the time to train mobility will bulletproof joints against injury and increase performance. 

Once you’re able to hold a static high bridge for 45-60 seconds, start exploring adding the rotational piece into the bridge movement.  

13.  Dynamic High Plank Exercises (pull-throughs, push-pull) 

14.  Landmine Grapplers

The landmine trainer provides the opportunity to train many angled exercises and rotational exercises not possible without the pivoting sleeve.  

If you’ve got access to a barbell and a few weight plates, you can start training landmine exercises right away.  

Wrapping an old towel around one end of the barbell can protect your walls from damage.  Or, several fitness companies have manufactured inexpensive landmine trainers well worth the money in my opinion.

👇 How to perform a landmine grappler 👇

Arc (ascend) the barbell up and through the midline of the body.  

Once the barbell passes through the midline, it will begin to arc (descend) down to the same start position on the opposite side of the body.  

The challenge at this point in the movement is decelerating the barbell quickly.  

Landmine grapplers are fantastic for training rotational force production and absorption.  

During a work set, you quickly toggling the switch between creating force and absorbing it.  

Landmine grapplers have great carryover to athletics and daily living.  

Plus most workout programs are deficient when it comes to rotational training.

Landmine grapplers check ✔️  the box. 

Use moderate weight to start.

The weight of the barbell may be enough to elicit a training effect to start.  Add weight slowly as you gain efficiency and strength.

Sets and reps will vary, but 3-5 sets of 6-10 reps per side is a good start.  

It really depends on the weight you’re using.  

Lighter weight = explosive movement and more reps.

Heavier weight = grinding movement and fewer reps.

15.  Slosh Pipe Exercises

The water inside of the pipe is unpredictable and free moving. 

Tilt the slosh pipe an inch below level, the water begins to run, the balance of the pipe changes and your body must react to this change. 

There’s very little relaxation time during a set of slosh pipe exercises since the water is never completely balanced inside the pipe. 

The big issue with slosh pipe training is the size of the slosh pipe.  It needs to be quite long, which isn’t always feasible while training indoors.  

For the home gym, a water-filled slosh training bag is a great alternative.

Whewwwww!

Want to see more core exercises?  

Check out Part II and Part III of this series:

Build a Home Gym? Yes, You Should.

home gym, Motion

Before you read this, please know I am a HUGE advocate for moving workouts into the home setting.  

Cutting the cord on a big box gym membership is a little like cutting the cord on cable television.  I’ve done both so I’ve got some experience here.  Change is hard.  Sounds dumb but when I cut cable television for good, I had a few weeks of not knowing what the hell to do with myself at night.  

It was purely conditioning and habit driving these feelings.  

But eventually, I adapted and transitioned my time to more productive activities.  Of course economical streaming subscriptions also helped fill the void (Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video, etc). 

Anyways, there’s some initial hesitation, weighing, back and forth, and although it sounds kind of funny… anxiety involved with cancelling a gym membership (or cable television).

“What will I do without my gym membership?”

Step one is to ask yourself if you’re actually using your gym membership.  If you are, how many days a week are you going?  Are you getting results from that money and time investment?  

These are simple questions.  Are you going to the gym enough to make the cost of keeping the membership worth while?

A lot of people go to the gym with intentions of losing weight, building strength, getting healthy, yet have very little if anything to show for it.  

No offense to these folks, but there’s a lot of people that fall into this category.  Gyms love them because not achieving results (aka:  spinning tires in the mud) is great for ensuring a steady revenue stream.  The anxiety is too high to cancel the membership.  So, you pay every month.  

If you do go to the gym and you enjoy it, KEEP YOUR MEMBERSHIP.

The goal of this article isn’t to project a rigid stance on big box gyms and paint them as being a bad place.  

My goal is to shed light on the effectiveness of working out at home and let you know it’s more than doable, it’s becoming the new standard.  Lots of people aren’t aware of this.  #themoreyouknow

A lot of folks use gyms as a social hang out just as people get memberships at the local country club to hang out with their buddies.  

Well built gyms often offer amenities to families (pools, child care, classes, etc).  So for these folks, spending the money might be well worth it.  

Mom and Dad can get some exercise in while the kids play in the pool with licensed gym staff.  

But…

… cancelling your gym membership will free up funds, time and hopefully bring some excitement back to your workouts.  

The biggest benefit (in my opinion) of moving workouts to a home gym set up is the freeing up of TIME.  

When I was younger I had a much harder time understanding the value of my time on this earth.  My perception was that I had all the time in the world.  Wrong.  

Fast forward several birthdays later, I feel much differently.  I have a desire to own as much of my time as possible.  Life’s too short.

Google “Memento Mori Chart” and fill one of those out if you really want the realities on the shortness of life.  

Balancing family, career and finding time for recreation can eat up most of the time in a day.  

Working out at a membership based brick and mortar gym certainly has it’s advantages, but it also has limitations which often go overlooked.

 

#1  Paying for something you don’t use.

A gym membership going unused or not being used on a regular basis is a waste of money.  

#2  Time.  

How much is your time worth?  

Time is our most precious commodity, and we can never get time back.  Drive time to and from, changing clothes time, waiting for equipment time, workout time, shower time, etc.  Big box gyms are a TIME SUCK. 

#3  Safe equipment.  

Most gyms still refuse to offer fitness equipment considered to be “taboo” or “dangerous” because it’s a liability for injury.  

So, the average big box gym is littered with fixed range of motion (aka:  artificial and unnatural range of motion cardio and resistance machines)

There’s a reason most people despise exercise…  because spending hours on these machines is uneventful and completely against human nature.  We were force fed the concept of exercising on fixed machines back in the 1960’s and 1970’s and somehow the concept survived to 2018.  

Those feelings of boredom while “ellipticalling” are real… and more importantly they are NOT WRONG.  Your body craves robust movement, exploration, change of direction, challenge.  

It took 8+ years for most gyms to offer kettlebells to clients for fear of throwing them through mirrors, dropping them on toes, or blowing out backs from poor technique.  All reasonable concerns.

To be blunt, if your gym isn’t offering and promoting alternative modalities of building fitness such as kettlebells, you’re missing out.

#4  Personal training is expensive

God bless personal trainers and their ongoing commitment to educating the public on the benefits of exercise.  

But personal training is expensive.

Personal training is expensive regardless if you’re training 1-on-1, semi private or in a group setting.  At $5, $10 or in some areas $70-$80 per session you could pivot and transition those dollars into one of many online training programs (probably starting with bodyweight based training like yoga or calisthenics) and gradually purchase some home equipment.

Start with a simple pair of dumbbells or kettlebells, maybe a suspension trainer.  These are three of the most versatile pieces of gym equipment on the market.  

Yes, I know barbell training is amazing.  But even in the year 2018, barbells freak a lot of people out.  I don’t know if their is data on this, but it’s anecdotal fact for me in conversations with people.  

So, do your homework on dumbbells, kettlebells or a suspension trainer.  

For the cost of one month of gym membership, you can buy one or possibly two pieces of equipment.  A kettlebell is a one-time purchase.  That kettlebell will outlast your life. 

The gym membership model succeeds and relies on signing up customers who don’t set foot in the door.  

I didn’t make this up.  

Listen, if I owned a gym I wouldn’t want all of my members to workout daily and tear up my expensive equipment.  

It would be a hassle and lost dollars for me to constantly fix broken down cardio machines, reface beat up barbells and weight plates, patch holes in benches, etc.  

No, no… if I owned a gym, give me your money and stay at home.  

Here are some great articles regarding gym memberships:

A snippet from the last NPR article:

“Joining a gym is an interesting form of what behavioral economists call pre-commitment,” says Kevin Volpp, director of the Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics at the Wharton School. Volpp says we actually like the idea of being locked into a gym contract … at first, anyway. “They’re picturing the ‘new me’ who’s actually going to go to the gym three times a week and become a physical fitness machine.” We convince ourselves that since we have committed to putting down money for a year, we will make ourselves go to the gym. And then, of course, we don’t.

Working out at home is not for everyone. 

“Wait, I thought you just told me that…”

I did.

Before you cancel your gym membership, it’s important to understand your habits and personality.  

Cancelling a gym membership with intentions of working out at home, but never actually getting the home workout habit to stick is not good.  It’s a step in the wrong direction.

If you were exercising twice a week at a gym, but now exercising ZERO times per week after making the transition, this is not a good scenario.

While taking workouts into the home setting is loaded with advantages, a lot of people may find it difficult to stick to a workout regimen at home.

I’ve found that inability to make the home workout habit stick are pretty similar to the reasons a lot of people shouldn’t have a home-based career.  

The comfortable environment of the home setting can kill off motivation for physical exertion and breed complacency.  

The temptation to do anything but be productive and get work done is too great.

Before cancelling a gym membership, test the waters by bringing 1 or 2 workouts into the home.  Keep it simple.  Work some bodyweight sessions, play around with the space you’ve got and get acclimated.   

No equipment means no workout!

Survey says:  Wrong.  

A common perception is that quality exercise cannot happen without the presence of fancy fitness machines.  

Heavenly Father… what are you supposed to do without any fitness equipment?!

I can see how a person would have this opinion, I really can. But the reality is you DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW.  

If you have these feelings, you’ve got to explore your options.   

Here are some ideas for you… 

Yoga, Animal Flow, KinStretch, gymnastics and calisthenics and resistance training are all INCREDIBLE forms of movement that can provide far more benefit for your body (looks, feel and performance) than any machine ever will.  

Listen, exercise machines have their place, but moving your body in a natural environment should be a primary goal.  Your body and the ground.  Start there.

What about walking?  

Walking, time and time again has proven to be potent form of daily activity.  Start with 10 minutes per day, every single day.  See what happens.  

The Economics of Building a Home Gym

Before buying home gym equipment there are two important points to consider:

  1. Quality gym equipment often isn’t cheap at time of purchase.  The upfront cost of purchasing the equipment will likely exceed what you were paying per month at your gym.  However, shift your attention to the long-term value instead of the short-term.  Most quality gym equipment should last you lifetime versus paying for monthly gym memberships.
  2. What’s the cost of not exercising across the long-term?  This question can be hard to wrap one’s head around, but seriously, in 10, 20, 30 years, what will be the cost you pay for not taking care of yourself physically when you had the chance.  

A badass home gym could be built by shifting spending habits for 6-8 months.  

Many people won’t buy gym equipment for the home because they don’t know how to use it.  In 1996, this was a valid concern, but not in 2017.  This little thing called the internet has created massive opportunities to learn basic technique of physical conditioning, all the way to movement mastery.  

Fitness is now digital.  The information is distributed through video, audio and the written word, there is education that appeals to all forms of learning.  A lot of it is given away for free.

Everything a person could want to know about fitness is on the internet.  

If you’re one of those anti-internet people… please stop.  Yes, the internet has some crap floating around but so does society.  

Take ownership, research, experiment, explore, refine, get curious, learn.  

I want this article to open your eyes to a different perspective on working out, where you do it, how you do it and a alternative view to transitioning your health regimen back to home base.  

Even if you don’t make the switch, it’s important to have the information.

Please let me comments or questions.

Check out some of these other topics of I’ve explored on the blog…  

All center around workout programs, workouts, exercises or equipment fully compatible with the home gym setting.

 

For now… cheers to you and building a home gym.

 

Kyle 

 

Workout Finisher: Kettlebell Swings and Burpees

Motion

Workout finishers (also known as metabolic finishers or conditioning finishers) are a short burst series of exercises at the end of a workout designed to complement strength based training.  

A workout finisher can be a single exercise, like a burpee, or a series of exercises strung together (squat, push up, pull up, etc).  Finishers typically take 1-10 minutes to complete, and can be organized into intervals or metabolic resistance training (think thrusters).  

A tough finisher will burn extra calories, boost cardio and work capacity while increasing the fat burning potential of the days workout.  

These days, I mainly string together several different exercises, using a variety of movement patterns and equipment.  From time to time, I’ll schedule a single exercise finisher, but it’s rare.  Burpees are a great exercise to use if you’re only going to do choose one.

Mixing Kettlebell Swings and Burpees

This post is all about one of the toughest workout finishers…

The word “burpee” makes me cringe. Burpees are a brutally effective exercise and I rarely program burpees into my own training simply because they are hard.

I shouldn’t admit that.

Burpees jack up your heart rate fast.  Few other bodyweight exercises compare to burpees for total body conditioning.  Burpees, though simplistic, are extremely functional.  Transitioning up from a low ground position to a standing position happens in sports all of time.  Maybe not for high reps like we program in a workout, but it happens.  

How do you make the burpee experience harder? Add in some kettlebell swings. 

This kettlebell swing and burpee workout finisher is brutal.  Back when my equipment arsenal consisted of 3 kettlebells, I gave the kettlebell swing/burpee finisher a go.

The combination fit the equipment and space I had available perfectly.   

I stopped twice on my first attempt. Not for extended periods, but long enough to consider throwing in the towel.  It’s hard to remember my finishing time, but I think it was less than 8 minutes.

I do remember the fatigue however, it was hard to gather myself.  I ate a pile of food that night and the following morning and the afterburn effect was potent.  

So I share this workout finisher with you. Keep it in your back pocket on the days where you’ve completed your skill work and strength training and still high on motivation.

Equipment needed… 

You’ll need one kettlebell and some space to for burpees. Ideally the burpees will include a squat jump each time (aka: full burpees), so take into account overhead clearance. Choose a kettlebell you can swing for 15-20 repetitions comfortably. It will be sub-maximal weight for the swings.

I recommend most males to swing a 24kg or a 28kg kettlebell and females to swing a 20kg or a 24 kg kettlebell.

Of course, you can swing whatever size kettlebell you want, the recommendations are just generalized suggestions.  A heavier or lighter kettlebell may be chosen based on your fitness level and experience with swings under extreme fatigue.

By design, this workout finisher has 100 kettlebell swings and 55 burpees.

Structure:

10 KB Swings + 1 Burpee
10 KB Swings + 2 Burpees
10 KB Swings + 3 Burpees
10 KB Swings + 4 Burpees
10 KB Swings + 5 Burpees
10 KB Swings + 6 Burpees
10 KB Swings + 7 Burpees
10 KB Swings + 8 Burpees
10 KB Swings + 9 Burpees
10 KB Swings + 10 Burpees

The kettlebell swing reps remain fixed at 10, while the burpees increase by 1 rep each round. When you finish the 10th burpee on the last round, you’re done.

When you’re doing this workout finisher, it’s easy to lose track of what round you’re on.  I’ve performed several rounds twice by mistake.

Modification and Variations

Decrease Difficulty

There are a ton of options to reduce the stress of this workout finisher, here some examples:

Decrease kettlebell swings to 5 reps each round
Swing lighter kettlebell (keep reps at 10)
Burpee with no jump (removing the jump makes burpees easier)
Burpee with no push up and no jump (again, much easier)

Don’t forget… take rest if you need it.  Resting is a simple way to decrease the difficulty of this workout finisher.  The goal should be to push through each round without rest, but if you need it and technique depends on it, take it.

Increase Difficulty

Careful here.  Having completed this workout finisher periodically over the years, I know how brutal it can be.

Before trying to make this harder, set a target finish time finish of 6 minutes or less. Anything over 6 minutes and there is no reason to make it harder.  You’ve got progress to make before increasing the difficulty.

If you finish in less than 6 minutes, consider sizing up the weight of the kettlebell or adding an extra round where you’ll complete 11 burpees in the final effort.

I don’t foresee a lot of people needing more intensity, but there are always options to do so.

Variations to the original…

Smaller Cycles w/ rest periods

Keep kettlebell swings at 10 reps but stop at 5 reps of burpees.

Round 1:  10 Kettlebell Swings + 1 Burpee

Round 2:  10 Kettlebell Swings + 2 Burpees

Round 3:  10 Kettlebell Swings + 3 Burpees

Round 4:  10 Kettlebell Swings + 4 Burpees

Round 5:  10 Kettlebell Swings + 5 Burpees

Above is an example of one round.  

Rest for 90sec-120sec after this round before starting the next round.  Complete anywhere from 2-5 rounds total.  This decrease the working time in half and give you a chance to rest before going again.  

Break up the Burpees into separate movements

Instead of performing a full burpee with a push up and squat jump, break it up.  Now you’ll be performing like so:

Round 1:  10 Kettlebell Swings + 1 Push Ups + 1 Squats
Round 2:  10 Kettlebell Swings + 2 Push Ups + 2 Squats
Round 3:  10 Kettlebell Swings + 3 Push Ups + 3 Squats

And so on…

Flip-Flop Swing and Burpee Reps

Switch around the kettlebell swing and burpee reps.  

Round 1:  1 Kettlebell Swing + 10 Burpees
Round 2:  2 Kettlebell Swings + 10 Burpees
Round 3:  3 Kettlebell Swings + 10 Burpees

And so on…

 

The afterburn effect of this workout finisher is HUGE.  If you’re pushing your boundaries, you’ll feel it for hours post-workout.  Personally, I like to position something like this after a strength training session where I know the next day is a rest day.  

Workout finishers are great for adding in a little work capacity and increasing the fat loss potential of a workout.  

Give this a try and let me know how you did. 

 

Cheers, 

Kyle 

The Many Ways to Use Animal Flow in Workouts

Animal Flow, bodyweight training, Motion

Scorpion

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The purpose of this article is two-fold:

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

2) Expand the application of Animal Flow exercises.

In we go…

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

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

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

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

Animal Flow is a perfect place to start and explore.

Using Animal Flow exercises for Pre-Workout Warm-Up

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

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

Yes, I still foam roll.  

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

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

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

Beast

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

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

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

Start Workout.

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

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

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

Forward Beast + Under-Switch + Reverse Crab

Forward Crab + Under-Switch + Reverse Beast

Start Workout.

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

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

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

Start Workout.

… And so on.

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

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

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

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

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

Start Workout.

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

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

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

A Tool for Recovery…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

… Followed by…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Animal Flow and Kettlebells for Cardio

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Or…

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

Or…

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

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

Improvised Workouts Ground Based Conditioning Plus Animal Flow…

This is my favorite part of this article.

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

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

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

Very poetic.

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

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

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

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

Closing Personal Commentary…

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

I’m not anti-machine.

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

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

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

—>  More details about Animal Flow 2.0

 

 

Cheers, 

Kyle

Benefits of Movement 20XX| Ground-Based Locomotion Training

Animal Flow, Motion

Screen Shot 2017-11-13 at 8.30.36 AM

Movement 20XX is an innovative, gap bridging movement system built around fundamental bodyweight exercise, organized in a readymade package.  

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

Movement 20XX exercises and workouts are designed to help people improve strength, flexibility, body control and coordination.

The most impressive aspect of Movement 20XX is how well the movements and transitions fit together to create an artistic, fluid practice. 

Ground-based conditioning is a missing element in a lot of workout regimens and can help reboot the body’s natural ability to move well.

It’s just you and some empty space on the floor, which is both daunting and liberating.  

The brilliance of Movement 20XX is it’s a collection of many different movement disciplines.  

Instead of being pigeon-holed to training with one movement methodology, Movement 20XX  teaches key elements from yoga, martial arts, parkour, break dancing and gymnastics to name a few.

The emphasis on teaching locomotion patterns like the lizard crawl is awesome.

Expanding movement capacity and improving movement I.Q. through natural ground-based movements is as functional as it gets. 

Locomotion patterns make up 1 of 6 components in the Animal Flow training system. 

What is Locomotion?

Locomotion exercises often mimic the movements of animals. Basic crawling variations are an example.  Crawling is a full-body conditioning pattern. 

Each moving form has an emphasis on contralateral movement, which means the movement occurs across the body’s midline.

The opposite hand and foot are going to move together. Contralateral movements are great for building body awareness and coordination.

Locomotion, in laymen’s terms, means moving from one place to another. Walking, skipping, running, pushing a heavy sled, farmer walks are all variations of locomotion.

A large majority of locomotion patterns are performed in a quadrupedal position, with hands pressed against the floor supporting body weight under the shoulder, knees flexed near 90 degrees and only the balls of the feet supporting the lower body. 

Benefits of Movement 20XX locomotion exercises?

Humans are bipedal creatures.

We move most efficiently in an upright position using our legs to propel us through space.

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

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

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

However, there are many moments in life where we must be able to move into (and out of) positions outside of normal vertical standing

Supplementing a training regimen with ground-based conditioning trains a person to be more capable of handling known and unknown tasks.  

It’s hard to predict when you’ll need to be strong in a quadruped position, right?

When you need it, you need it.

A great goal of any fitness program should be to create a higher level of movement efficiency across a broader range of positions.  

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Locomotion movements provide a gentle loading for the upper extremities and demand the core musculature sort out new stimuli (cross-crawling).  

Yes, locomotion work is going to light up your core.

Other benefits of locomotion training:

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

Ground flow drills are not boring, which is a really unscientific yet powerful reason to start exploring the practice.

If your current workout regimen has you bored out of your mind, you better switch it up quickly.  People who get bored often stop exercising all together.  It’s very predictable.   

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

Side-to-Side Locomotion

Side-to-side (lateral) locomotion is a challenge technique-wise.


Timing, force absorption, core compression, and flexibility are all equally important 

This same pattern can be executed forward and backward.

Quadrupedal Crawling

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Crawling is a fantastic activity for the pre-workout warm-up, or as a main component of the workout.

This dynamic quadrupedal activity reinforces and builds reflexive strength along with connecting the left side of the brain with the right side.

Small space? No worries.

Crawling is an adaptable exercise that can fit whatever size space you are training in.

In my old basement gym, I had less than 10 feet in any one direction.  Adapt to small spaces by making more trips down and back.  For folks who are stuck in hotel rooms while traveling, crawling is PERFECT.

8-10 feet of space is all you need to crawl.

Crawling can be modified to suit a wide variety of training stimuli and goals. Ramp up the tempo to elicit a cardio training effect or slow it down for movement control.

Beginners should practice crawling slow and controlled to establish a familiarization with technique. 

Crawling can be performed in high and low positions, forward and backward, side to side.

Supine Crab Crawl

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Supine crawling, sometimes referred to as the “Crab Crawl” positions the front of the body toward the ceiling with arms supporting behind the back and inches in front of the glutes.

This crawling variation engages the backside muscles of the legs to a higher degree while challenging shoulder extension.

The Crab Crawl is a unique exercise because of the way it engages the lats, traps and external shoulder rotators, opens up the anterior chain while simultaneously activating.  

How to Add Locomotion Drills to Your Workout

Locomotion exercises can be used as warm-up drills, recovery from the previous day’s training stress, included in a circuit or practiced as part of a long duration flow.

Natural bodyweight movement can be practiced anytime, in virtually any environment. 

Personally, I prefer a “less but better” training philosophy.

Starting out, I practiced basic locomotion patterns for 10-15 minutes before any resistance training or cardio work, using brutally slow tempos to gain an understanding of mechanics and build motor control and timing.

 

Slow movement training reveals movement deficits.

As mentioned earlier in this post, crawling can be used for cardio conditioning.  Increase the tempo and intensity.  Move faster.  Or, crawl for a longer duration.  Maintain quality of movement, however.  

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

Movement 20XX

Movement 20XX

Movement 20XX is the program I recommend for those who want to begin exploring ground-based training.

Eero Westerberg has done a fantastic job creating a comprehensive movement platform that really delivers significant benefits to customers.

Movement 20XX is packed with basic (similar to what I shared today) and advanced exercises and technique tutorials for those exercises, leading to flow training.

Flow training is highly challenging and fun.

Subscribe

Make sure to subscribe to this blog to receive updates on future posts.  I will never spam you, it’s not my style.

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YouTube and Instagram are also great resources for constantly updated exercise progressions and variations, flow training and how I’m integrating techniques to create hybrid workouts.  

 

Cheers, 

Kyle 

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

Motion, Workouts

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

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

Simple… and brutal.  

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

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

Here’s the workout…

Workout Structure

Exercise:  Full Burpees

Repetitions:  200 

Time:  20-minute time limit

Discussion…

Exercise

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

What classifies as a full burpee?  

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

Simple enough, right?

Full burpees.

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

There are plenty of burpee variations for EVERYONE.

Repetitions

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

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

… get them done.  

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

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

Keep in mind, reps can be adjusted easily.  

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

Here are some options:

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

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

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

Broken down further:

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

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

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

Time

Challenge yourself to finish as fast as possible.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mentally, reject limiting thoughts.  

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

Don’t.  Attack the workout.

That’s all folks…

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

 

 

Cheers, 

Kyle 

Interval Workout| Lizard Crawl + 500m Row

20 minute Workouts, Ido Portal, Workouts

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

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

  • The Lizard Crawl
  • Rowing

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Here’s an example:


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s how the workout was structured…

Lizard Crawl for 20 yards

+

500 meter Row

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thoughts and Suggestions…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Cheers to you, 

Kyle 

5 Bodyweight Push-Up Variations

Animal Flow, Bodyweight Workouts, Ido Portal

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

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

Push-ups are a premiere bodyweight-based upper body exercise capable of building useable strength, endurance and sculpting a lean physique. 

It’s easy to get stuck doing the same variation of push-ups, which can make training dull and potentially lead to skipping workouts.  There’s a whole world of push-up progressions and variations worth exploring.  

The draw to bodyweight based training makes sense.  First and foremost, bodyweight training is FREE.  

Second, bodyweight training is natural movement.  How?  Why?  It’s just you managing your own weight against gravity, which makes this form of exercise pretty damn realistic for everyday life.  

Seems logical to improve one’s ability to handle their bodyweight in various positions and patterns.  The ability to press oneself up from the floor (to do other things like crawl or walk, etc) helps us stay mobile and live life.  

Bodyweight training can be as advanced as a person wants, or going the other direction, scaled for any beginner. 

Push-ups, squats, lunges, crawling and vertical pulling exercises pull-ups/chin-ups are the foundation of before external weight ever enters the equation.

Traditional Push-Ups…

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

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

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

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

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

The Often Forgotten “Secret”… 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But what about pushing up in odd body positions?

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

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

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

Explore what YOU can do.  

#1 Resistance Band Assisted One Arm Push-Ups

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

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

#2 Lateral Push-Ups

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

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

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

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

#3 Stationary Low Lateral Shifts 

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

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

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

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

#4 Dynamic Low Lateral Shifts

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

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

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

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

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

#5 Beginner Lizard Crawl Push-Ups

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

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

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

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

No equipment required…

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

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

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

Don’t procrastinate, get after it.  

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

 

For now… cheers, 

Kyle