Ido Portal Training Book (alternatives)

Ido Portal

Look, I know there are a lot of people out there that want Ido to publish a book, manual, or even compile notes from one of his MovementX seminars.  I’ve been checking the Ido Portal website for over 2 years waiting for the “store” link to produce some content.  I am a fan of his work, I’ll admit it.  A book, poster, manual… something… anything Ido.

We will buy.

But, the reality is that there hasn’t been any buyable content generated from Ido Portal, and quite honestly, I am not sure that there ever will be since Ido is an ever evolving teacher.

Putting words on a page that will stay there forever doesn’t seem like his style.

So, instead of combing through Ido’s old blog in desperate search of a place to start (which I have done out of curiosity), it is important to explore other resources that are well known for being superior in their respective niche’s.

Here are a few to get you started…

Gymnastics/Ground Based Movement

There aren’t many training tactics that will get you more functionally strong than gymnastics-based drills, particularly ring-based gymnastics work.  If you enjoy a systematic approach to training, and want to establish bodyweight self-dominance, these resources is must have for your library.

Barbell Training (all by Mark Rippletoe)

All of the books listed above were written by Mark Rippletoe, a few of the early editions even date back to 2005, 2007 and 2009 which in the fitness realm might seem ancient.  However, don’t be fooled by the bland cover art and no nonsense titles because I will tell you without hesitation that all of these books hold up to this day.

Barbell training is barbell training, not much as changed, and Rippletoe has been doing it long enough to give a world-class perspective on technique and progressions.

Whether you’re a beginner in search of a logical starting point or an expert lifter with years of training under your belt, it never hurts to go back to the basics.  Don’t confuse “basic” training with “ineffective” training.

Strength is one of the foundational pillars for physical development and always will be.  Ido talks often about the importance of building strength to support more technical forms of movement.  It’s essential.  You’ll find many references to Ido training heavy deadlifts and back squats.

Remember, single arm chin-ups and handstands are impressive feats of strength and athleticism, but they are also upper body exclusive feats.

Deadlifts and squats are important elements to a great training program.

Kettlebell Training

Pavel Psatsouline deserves credit for igniting interest in kettlebells in the Western hemisphere.  And while kettlebells have put a bad taste in some people’s mouths in recent years (anything that becomes too mainstream gets negative press), it is important to understand that kettlebells remain a brutally effective training tool.

Any fitness tool or tactic that catches fire in the mainstream is going to inevitably breed some really bad products and programs.

Pavel continues to publish fantastic content to this day, under the StrongFirst brand.

Sport Performance

Mark Verstegen and Mike Boyle are juggernauts in the sports performance arena.  Core Performance and Functional Training for Sports are two of the first performance enhancement books I ever read.  Both books completely shifted what I thought I knew about my time in the weight room.  My only regret is that I found them when I was finished with my collegiate athletic career.

Anything written by Verstegen or Boyle is going to be quality, they are both highly recognized and respected brands within the performance enhancement community.

Eric Cressey is the new-school of sports performance.  His brick and mortar training centers, Cressey Performance, and consistently packed with professional athletes from all sports.  He is a highly sought after strength and conditioning coach, fantastic book here.

Body Care/Maintenance

Becoming a Supple Leopard is a practical guide to fixing yourself.  Sounds funny to say, but that is exactly what Kelly is going to help you do.  Not every piece of advice in Becoming a Supple Leopard is going to apply to your situation, but you’ll find a goldmine of tips and pearls throughout the pages.

The Roll Model is a guide to self-massage, re-establishing mobility, tension relief and eliminating unwanted aches and pains.  Jill teamed up with Kelly Starrett for this book.  If you constantly feel like you need a massage, it’s time to learn how to treat yourself, at home, whenever you want.  Your bank account will thank you.

Gray Cook is a legend in the movement world.  Gray was one of the first to apply a scoring system to movement quality and use that scoring system to quantify an action plan for body imbalances/weak spots.  This book was published in 2003, but if you’ve never used any of Gray’s drills, particularly the “chop” and “lift” drill progressions, you’re in a for a treat.

Establishing symmetry in the body is a noble pursuit that will keep you healthy and performing at a high level for a long time.

 

There you have it, alternatives to keep you busy until Ido decides to publish his training philosophies.  But don’t hold your breath on an Ido Portal book anytime soon…

 

 

Kyle

3 Jump Rope and Kettlebell Workouts To Try

Workouts

Depending on your training level, pairing kettlebell drills like swings and jumping rope can provide an incredible training stimulus.

All three of the workouts below will require a kettlebell and a jump rope.

The effectiveness of the workouts will depend on you, your effort, training familiarity with the exercises, kettlebells and jump rope.  Jumping rope can be a limiting factor for a lot of people, but with practice you’ll quickly improve.

Step #1: Choose a kettlebell weight that is challenging to swing for 15 repetitions (we’ll be swinging it for 10 repetitions in the workouts).

Step #2: Select a jump rope that turns effortlessly and has a length appropriately to your height.  Generally speaking, when you place one foot on the rope you should be able to pull the handles to your armpit region.

Selecting only two pieces of equipment minimizes decision fatigue.  Less can be more.

Baseline workout:

10 Kettlebell Swings

1 minute Jump Rope

  • 10 continuous rounds without rest between swinging and jumping.
  • Two movements done savagely well.

 

Intermediate workout:

10 Kettlebell Swings

10 Kettlebell Goblet Squats

1 minute Jump Rope

  • 10 continuous rounds without rest between swinging, squatting and jumping.
  • Addition of the squat pattern element to the baseline workout above.

 

Advanced workout:

10 Kettlebell Swings

10 Kettlebell Goblet Squats

5 Right/Left Arm Kettlebell Overhead Press

1 Minute Jump Rope

  • 10 continuous rounds without rest between swinging, squatting, pressing and jumping.
  • Now it’s a party.  A full body training session of hip hinging (swings), squatting (goblet squats), vertical pressing (overhead press) with jumping rope serving as the active rest between these loaded movements.

 

One easy way to make any of these workouts more challenging is to try and complete more rounds in the given timeframe.  Another words, work faster.  Be mindful of exercise technique of course.

Less is more.  The impact from a simple workout like this is tremendous, and I often recommend breaking the monotony of traditional cardio training with sessions like this.

Incorporating big bang major movement patterns like kettlebell swings will serve you amazingly well.

Enjoy these workouts and feel free to progress them beyond what I’ve suggested to further challenge/customize to suit your needs.

 

Kyle

 

Similar posts:

 

Nano-Cardio: Hybrid Row Workouts

Quick Tips

“Nano-cardio workouts” are a multi-dimensional approach to traditional conditioning methods.

In other words, instead of only rowing or running or biking as your cardio vehicle,  I’ve assembled several exercises together to create a more manageable compact conditioning circuit.

Traditional cardio bores me.  I used to think it was a lack of discipline making me feel this way , now I realize it’s just preference.  Leave me the choice of running for 20 minutes, or working through one of the workouts below, and I am taking the hybrid cardio session every single time.

Mixing and matching several different exercise patterns together keeps workouts interesting and more productive.

So where do these workouts fit in the grand scheme of things?  I suppose the appropriate answer to this question is dependent on your current fitness level, but my advice would be to slip them in before or after strength-centric focused days.

Nano-style cardio circuits frequently leverage sub-maximal movements.

Ballistic drills like kettlebell swings are purposely kept to low rep ranges and more traditional resistance exercises are typically left to bodyweight load or band-assisted if need be.

I want you to feel better, improved when you’re finished, not feeling burn out, drained and moody.  There is a time and place for burn-out style training sessions and it’s not every single day.  It’s possible to feel tired yet better.  Extreme fatigue is not the goal.

Why is extreme fatigue not the goal? I want you to build your conditioning gradually, intelligently.  Smarter, manageable training spread across the long-term.  It is, in fact, a marathon not a sprint.

Give high a energy effort while you’re knee deep in these sessions.

Train hard, recover harder and set yourself up to build and progress from the today’s effort.

Now, please enjoy these three options.

Nano-Cardio #1

15 Kettlebell Swings

250 Meter Row

  • 8-10 rounds
  • 45-60 seconds rest in between rounds (or use heart rate monitor and recover to 60% of max heart rate before starting next round)
  • Rower damper setting to 5-6

 

Nano-Cardio #2

10 Squat-to-Press

5 Chin-Ups

250 Meter Row

  • 8 rounds
  • 45 seconds rest for rounds 1-4, 60 seconds rest for rounds 5-8
  • Rower damper setting to 5-6
  • Squat-to-Press:  Use barbell, kettlebells, dumbells, sandbag or whatever you have.

 

Nano-Cardio #3

10 Kettlebell Swings

5 Right/Left Landmine Rotation Grapplers

250 Meter Row

  • 8 rounds
  • 45 seconds rest for rounds 1-4, 60 seconds rest for rounds 5-8
  • Rower damper setting to 5-6
  • Manageable weight on the landmine grapplers, progress up in weight as needed.

 

Notes:

Notice that all of these compact conditioning workouts include a 250 meter distance rowing interval.  The 500 meter may be a gold-standard distance, but I have found that rowing a 500 meter hard for nano-workouts like these is too aggressive for maintaining output across 8 rounds.  Especially after working through two exercises prior to rowing.

Remember, the workout is scheduled for 8 rounds, don’t make the mistake of measuring effectiveness of the workout based on you feel after the first couple of rounds.  You will be tired eventually.  If you’re fresh as a daisy after battling through 8 rounds, add more, but don’t overdo it.

A 250 meter row delivers a great cardiovascular stimulus without making you feel like you’re spending the entire workout on the rower.

By keeping the rowing distance shorter, you’ll give yourself a chance to increase your power per stroke across that 250 meters.  Shorter distance, less accumulated fatigue, more effort per stroke, more focus on technique per stroke.  This is valuable for all fitness levels.

Fatigue is a technique killer, no matter how you are exercising.

Concept 2 Rowers come equipped with a read-out monitor that gives amazingly detailed feedback on your watts (power output), distance, time and back log for previous workouts.  It’s an amazingly effective piece of fitness equipment.

Increase the distance if you feel that my suggested distance of 250 meters isn’t challenging enough, or you’ve adapted quickly and need to progress.

But again, don’t make that decision until you’ve hit rounds 7 or 8.

I’d guess that the average time it will take to row 250 meters will be between 38-50 seconds.  It’s likely that you will see that time drop off as fatigue sets in during later rounds.

Damper setting: I rarely adjust the damper setting outside of the 5-7 setting.  Adjusting the damper too low doesn’t seem to provide enough resistance early in strokes, yet adjusting it too high turns seems to si training event and makes each stroke feel as if you’re rowing through a mud.  Play around with the damper setting, see what you prefer.

Keep the rest periods strict.  I can’t stress this enough.  Make an effort to pay greater attention to the details.

Too often people aren’t as detailed with their rest periods as they should be.  If you’re scheduled to rest for 45 seconds, that means  you’re resting for 45 seconds. Not 45 seconds plus the 10-15 seconds it takes to set up for the next round.  Your first rep of kettlebell swings should begin when the clock hits 45 seconds (or whatever length rest period you’ve chosen).

Physiology-based rest periods is the next progression beyond the basic pre-set, fixed rest period approach.  If you own a heart rate monitor, I highly recommend leveraging some simple technology for a more customized work:rest experience.

The concept is simple: you’ll start the next round when your heart rate lowers to a targeted beats per minute.  My personal target heart rate is commonly 60%-70% of my maximum heart rate.

Of course, in order to figure out your target heart rate, you’ll need to first estimate (the keyword here is “estimate”) what your maximum heart rate is, so here are some links to formulas…

Estimating heart rate with the infamous 220-age equation is by far fastest, yet probably the most inaccurate.  This formula can leave you with a standard deviation of + or – 12 beats per minute.  For me at 31 years of age, that means that my maximum heart rate could be anywhere from 177bpm-201bpm.  That’s a wide range.

Using a heart rate monitor does provide a more customized workout experience, along with some adding a motivation element.  If you’re like me, it’s interesting to track your heart rate patterns during exertion/rest, time to recover back to target heart rate, and the general adaptations that occur over the long-term.

It’s amazing how the body responds to different training stimuli based on intensity, efficiencies and inefficiencies and duration.

But, keep in mind that recovery from intense bouts of work can vary greatly from person to person and is often highly individualized.

Screen Shot 2015-12-08 at 6.38.28 AM.png

Polar FT7 Heart Rate Monitor

(credit: Amazon.com)

A heart rate monitor with basic functions and read out such as the Polar FT1 Heart Rate Monitor or the Polar FT7 Heart Rate Monitor from Amazon will work fantastic.  Here’s the link to the entire Polar product catalog on Amazon.

If you’re interested in a fitness tracker that provides information well beyond a basic heart rate function, there are plenty of more technologically advanced options.

Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 8.14.10 AM

(photo: Fitbit Surge Fitness Superwatch)

I would recommend the following (in no particular order):

 

Give these a workouts a go, check out the heart rate approach to work:rest,  and if you would, leave some feedback in the comments section about your experience.

 

Cheers,

 

Kyle

 

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3 Simple Ido Portal Beginner Exercises To Practice

Ido Portal

Ido Portal movement training is quickly becoming the standard for building physical fitness.

Improving the control you have over your bodyweight is a noble pursuit.

Before you view the videos below, remember that advanced variations of movement/exercise, while being incredibly entertaining watch, are within everyone’s capacity to achieve.

The movement achievement recipe is simple:

Find an effective/potent training system/philosophy and practice it relentlessly.

Practice until you are sick of practicing.  Then practice some more.

The more you practice, the better you become at what you are practicing, which then grants you access to more challenging progressions and higher level practice.

Practice boosts understanding, awareness and insight, motor control, strength/stability/endurance/power/mobility.

The elite become elite because they are understand the value of practice, and how to leverage practice to rise above.

Now, while doing something is generally better than doing nothing, it is possible to practice incorrectly, which is why receiving feedback from a mentor or a teacher so valuable.  The teacher is an advanced at practicing, at a level that you are trying to get to.  The teacher, through experience has acquired understanding, knowledge to share with students.

The best teachers maintain the humble student mentality despite being considered experts.

With movement, more specifically body position, it is very easy and quite common to think that you are practicing technique correctly when you are not.

Improper body alignment or stopping short of full range of motion are two extremely predictable situations that a teacher has the eye and understanding to verbally cue or re-position to ensure that your time spent practicing is technique appropriate.

Below are a several examples of the Ido Portal ground based movement philosophy, performed by Ido himself.

QDR:  Beginner Rotational Push-Ups

NDA Beginner Lateral Push Ups

Harop Curl Beginner

The knock that I currently have on Ido’s portfolio of work is that there isn’t a clear and defined starting point for his movement systems.  Combing through his old blog provides some insight, but making sense of his system still remains a mystery for most.  I completely understand him wanting to keep the integrity of his movement system intact and avoid distortion (which often happens as the word spreads).

However there are some exceptional gymnastics-centric training systems available that can fill the voids that currently exist while serving as a great stepping stone as you transition into Ido’s movement philosophy.

Here are some those essential bodyweight training resources, which can found and purchased easiest on Amazon…

Whether you’re a novice or advanced trainee, a simple equipment set up can make a dramatic difference in your progress and overall enjoyment.

Gymnastics rings and parallettes are the best starting point and will provide big bang for your buck, and seemingly endless exercise progressions and variation.

L-Sit progressions, tuck and push-up variations, vertical and horizontal pulling exercises, hanging challenges are all best executed using gymnastic rings and parallettes.

The Nagoya Gymnastics Rings (Amazon, $30) currently have a 5-star rating and over 1,007 customer reviews.  You’re welcome to shop around, but for the price and quality, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better deal for similar quality.

Best-selling author and movement enthusiast Tim Ferriss has raved about these gymnastics rings after testing them himself in past newsletters and blog posts.  Gymnastics rings are an essential component for true bodyweight training, and an unbeatable buy in my opinion.

Personally, I built my parallettes from PVC pipe using these exact instructions.  It was inexpensive, simple and fast to assemble.  They work fantastic.

If you aren’t in the mood to DIY, I recommend these parallettes.

 

Cheers to you.

Kyle

 
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Does Being Fit Make You Harder to Kill?

Quick Tips

 

At first I was going to say yes, without a doubt building fitness makes a person harder to kill.

I’m not sure about you, but personally every barbell squat, kettlebell swing, turkish get-up, 500m row and jump rope interval makes me that much harder to put 6 feet deep.

[Improving fitness cannot just be centered around improving exertion.  Exertion is just one piece of the puzzle, a fragment of a much larger picture.  We must consider the role of achieving better body position or movement pattern quality, tissue health and integrity, recovery and nutrition to be highly influential topics that enhance our ability to perform.]

It’s empowering to know that my stopping power increases with each and every repetition, distance covered and position held.

In fact, I was walking through the grocery store yesterday sizing up other customers wondering who might challenge me to a scrap.

As fate would have it, I navigated my way through the treacherous isles of the store without a single encounter,  purchasing my groceries unscathed.

Leaving the store, my thoughts quickly shifted to a classic movie scene from Indiana Jone’s.  Many of you will remember this particular clip quite well…

 

 

But if you do manage to trick me with ninja smoke and slip in a finishing move, please, do me the service of burying me ass up so you’ll have a place to park your bike.

Harder to kill?  Sweet slogan but hardly relevant for most of us. 🙂

Whatever gets you going though, right?

 

 

 

Kyle

Metabolic Conditioning: The Bear Barbell Complex Workout

20 minute Workouts, Quick Tips

“The Bear” Barbell Complex is as close to flowing barbell training with a barbell that you’ll ever get, or at least I have ever gotten.

I’ll assume that “The Bear” is referred to as “The Bear” because of how difficult the workout is.

This complex workout leverages barbells.  Barbells are mostly thought to develop pure strength and power.

The barbell was manufactured to work well for moving heavy weight.  Moving heavy weight creates the ideal training stimulus for building strength.  If a person moves the barbell fast enough across a set distance (Point A to Point B), the barbell becomes a tool that enhances an individuals power.  Think cleans, snatches, jerks, etc.

  • Slower moving + heavy weight = Strength Development
  • Fast moving + medium/heavy weight = Force Production = Power Development

Although barbell training might not be an appetizing fitness solution for a lot of people, taking some time to learn and practice the basics of barbell training can pay a person back ten-fold over time.

My guess is a lot of people avoid barbell training because of the intimidation and unfamiliarity factor, or for some, the uncomfortable sensation of iron grinding against the skin.  Barbell work will develop tough hands over time.

The callouses I cannot help you with… but if you want to know more about barbell training, buy Starting Strength by Mark Rippletoe.  Read a few pages, practice, read a few more pages and practice some more.  There is a wealth of knowledge in Starting Strength that can help you establish the emotional confidence and the technique to play around with the barbell a bit more.

It’s important not to be afraid or intimidated by the barbell.  When people think of barbell training they usually picture a 300lb tank-of-a-man squatting 500lbs, yelling like a maniac during every rep while his friends stand around yelling like maniacs during every rep.

You’re partially right if this is your initial mental picture.  But barbells, and how we use them to develop physical qualities has evolved a lot over the years.

Like any other fitness tool, barbells can be leveraged for other purposes also.

In particular, I enjoy using the barbell during work capacity directed training sessions (aka: metabolic conditioning) or at the end of a workout for a short burst finisher.  Think high reps with lower loads, or a highly concentrated amount of work done in a short time frame, or unique mixture of both.

When I re-stumbled onto the The Bear Barbell Complex a few weeks ago, I reintroduced myself to a style of barbell training that I used to use quite a bit, especially when available workout time was limited.

“What is The Bear Complex?, you ask.

Come a bit closer and let’s take a look…

Barrier to Entry

Tools: Barbell and plates (bumper or standard metal work fine), clock timer such as the GymBoss.
Skill:  Working knowledge of the barbell based exercises listed below.

The Exercises

#1: Power Clean

#2: Front Squat

#3:  Push Press

#4: Back Squat

#5:  Behind-the-neck Push Press

Workout Structure

–  Each movement is performed for 1 repetition before immediately moving into the next exercise.

–  1 Cycle =  1 repetition from #1-#5 in alternating/descending order.  After exercise #5’s rep, return back to exercise #1.

–  1 Round = 7 Cycles

–  Perform 5 Rounds

–  Rest 90 seconds after finishing each round.

–  Barbell weight is dependent on:

  • Weakest lift (the weakest lift determines the appropriate load, which should be sub-maximal)
  • Exercise technique and know-how.
  • Reaction to fatigue (which correlates closely with the deterioration of exercise technique)
  • Advanced Women – 95lbs
  • Advanced Men – 135lbs

The Extended Break-Down…

There are 35 reps of every movement being performed throughout all 5 rounds.  Just 35 reps.  If you consider the volume of a more traditional work-rest training session, where a squat is performed for 8 reps x 3-4sets, the volume is not much higher.

The weight used is also much lighter than a more traditional work-rest set and should be determined by your weakest lift in the complex.  For a lot of people that is going to be the push press, possibly the power clean (grip). I’m asking you to perform 5 reps for each round.  The barbell load should be a sub-maximal, which means that you should be able to push press that barbell for 8-10 reps comfortably.

My suggestions on weight for men and women are not the law.  Adjust the weight to what is appropriate for your current fitness level and know-how.

Every exercise is performed for a single rep before moving into the next exercise.  From rep to rep, you’re alternating between different movement pattern throughout each cycle.  It’s important to understand this aspect of The Bear Complex, because it’s one of it’s features that makes it so physically taxing.

Elevation Change

The barbell begins on the floor and travels to chest height after the clean and during the front squat.  After the front squat the barbell moves overhead after the push press.  The barbell then transitions from the front of the body to the back of the body on the descent down from the push press.

At this point, the barbell rests on the shoulders while you perform a back squat.  At the top of the back squat, the barbell is forcefully pressed overhead once more, and caught back into the front rack position at chest height.  The barbell is guided back to waist height and eventually back down to the floor to prepare for the next cycle, starting with a power clean.

The training stimulus elicited by moving the barbell up and down, front to back, movement to movement creates a large metabolic training effect.

Performing single rep of a movement pattern, followed by single rep of a completely different movement pattern, while bundling a bunch of different movement patterns together in a row (creating a “cycle”) is extremely fatiguing.  It’s provides a unique training stimulus for the body to cope with and also laser-like focus for the mind to keep up with since every rep involves a different movement pattern.

‘Single-rep-alternating-movement-pattern-workouts’ have proven to be an effective variation of traditional complex training, where exercises are performed for multiple repetitions before moving on to the next movement pattern.

If you’re accustomed to sectioning off your complexes, doing 6 reps of one exercise here and 6 reps of another there before moving on, alternating movement patterns with every rep will be a shock to your system.

It’s reiterating once again that alternating the movement pattern on every rep requires great skill.  The barbell is constantly changes levels, stopping and starting in different positions.  The transitions can be brutal.  There’s a high level of focus needed here.

The Fatigue is Coming…

During The Bear Complex, the first few reps/cycles usually don’t feel too rough, but the wave of fatigue that bites you in the ass somewhere around cycle 5, 6 or 7 can be overwhelming.  Possibly so much so that executing all 7 cycles for any 1 round is just plain unreasonable if you’re new it.  Don’t be afraid to remove your hands from the barbell to take a break and to gather yourself.

Loaded conditioning is a fantastic method to burn fat and develop high level work capacity which has great transfer into sport and becoming more resilient toward real life labor, but fatigue can break down your exercise technique.  Don’t be a hero here, be smart.  If 5 rounds is too much, do 4 rounds.  Be reasonable.

Movement technique first and foremost, forever and always.

Pay Attention to your grip integrity

Alternating movement patterns and transitioning the bar to different resting positions can fry your grip.  Consider that the bar is moving from the floor, to chest to over head, to shoulders, back to overhead and finally back down to the floor position.  That’s a lot of bar movement.  Don’t be afraid to walk away from the barbell if your grip starts to slip.  A quality grip is needed for the cleans.  Attempting to pull a barbell with a poor grip can be dangerous, and the fatigue that’s been created with slow your reaction/recovery time.  Again, rest for a few seconds, gather yourself, then complete the work with a solid grip.

If you’re a tenacious sweater like I am, also be aware of any sweat rolling down your forearm and into the hand/barbell interface.  Don’t push through this situation either.  Dry all surfaces with a towel and continue on.  Maybe consider using a no mess chalk solution such as HumanX Chalk Balls to help maintain grip.  Chalking your hands has come a long way.
.

This workout is advanced 

Complex training in general is an advanced form of training.

Any exercise scheduled in a complex must be an exercise that you have a familiarity with BEFORE you enter the workout.  You must have experience and proficiency in executing each of the included exercises on an individual level before you attempt a workout like The Bear Complex.  If you don’t know how to perform any one of the exercises, The Bear Complex is not the place to learn.

Explore…

If you’re looking to add in some variety to your training, give The Bear Complex a legitimate shot.  Be honest with your rest periods, your exercise technique and the structure of the reps, cycles, rounds.  Also be honest with weight that you choose to use.  There’s no shame in lessening the load if you need to.

Cheers to The Bear…

Kyle

(Video Coming Soon)

The Benefits of Jumping Rope (Part I)

Quick Tips

Over a year ago I whipped up an article that cautioned jump rope training, and it’s been one of my most popular posts on this blog.  You can find it here.

The issue with that post, is that I painted a picture that jumping rope is a harmful activity.

It’s not, but the title and tone of the post was deceptive.  In the end, I wanted it to be a cautionary tale.

It’s worth considering that jumping rope might not be the best option for you, depending on past injuries and other contraindications (which I cannot predict because I don’t know you).

The fact is that I really love jump rope training and I think that you should also.

Personally I jump rope almost daily, either as part of a warm-up or as part of the workout.

The jump rope is an incredible piece of equipment to leverage during the warm up.  5-10 minutes of jumping rope prior to a hard training session is ideal.

For the space restricted or climate restricted person (Winter in the North), I feel that jumping rope is an incredible solution to get you upright and moving.  We’ve beaten the “sit to much” campaign into the ground, but getting back on your feet while training a great goal.

Once beyond the initial learning curve, jumping rope transitions from a self-regulating/self torture activity into a highly engaging activity, that can be quite fun.

Here are a few of those undeniable benefits…

Functional Cardio

Does all cardiovascular conditioning need to take place on your feet?  Absolutely not.  However, it’s undeniable that life happens standing.  It’s also undeniable that we sit too much throughout the day.  Jumping rope puts you on your feet in an upright position where you are charged with the simple task of dodging the ropes as it turns.  It sounds easy and it might be for the first few turns, but jumping rope is a skill that elicits a cardio training effect similar to running.

In order to turn the rope faster, you’ll have to pay closer attention to your technique and posture, which needs to be on point as the jumps per minute increase.

Vertical conditioning tactics has great transfer into everyday life.  Improving your ability to deal with fatigue in a functional manner will serve you very well.

***  I’m aware of the studies saying that jumping rope for 10 minutes is like running for 30 minutes.  Studies like this are great for exercise physiologists and for selling fitness magazines, but in my opinion, they encourage people to do less.  Don’t cut corners on your workouts, do the work.  I’ve jumped rope for 10 minutes straight plenty of times and I can tell you that it gets boring and repetitive real quick.  I’ve also tracked my heart rate pretty aggressively during these jump sessions and I’ve never seen my heart reach a BPM as high as when I’m running.  Maybe it’s a personal problem.

Small Space Cardio Solution

If you live in a location where Winter cages you like an animal during 4-5 months per year, you can appreciate the fact that jumping rope can keep you fit without having to be outside or needing open space to move around.  If your ceilings are high enough and the floor you’re jumping on can tolerate it, jumping rope is a cash money conditioning activity.

The Winter’s in Wisconsin are relentless, so it’s nice to be able to mix in a potent conditioning session without having to stomp around outside in the slush.  Treadmills, stationary bikes and other new age cardio equipment are decent alternatives for elevating heart rate in a pinch, but there is nothing like moving your body as it was meant to on real ground.

Variations 

If you’ve only jumped rope using the standard two-foot jump, you’re missing out.  Go back and mix in some variations.  Standard two-foot jumping has it’s place, but even a full minute of two foot jumping is boring.  Switch it up.  Try going single leg for a few rotations, running with low knees, running with high knees, side to side, front to back, 180 degree rotations, double-unders, boxer hops, etc.

Jumping rope becomes interesting and quite taxing when you start to mix in improvised variations.

It takes skill to jump rope, and any time you can expose your body to a new skill, you’re better for it.

Low Cost Cardio Alternative

A speedy trip to your local sporting good store and $5-$10 buys you a pass into the jump rope game.

If you’re tight on cash, jump ropes are fantastic alternative.  If you’re thinking about buying a treadmill or an elliptical, buy a jump rope instead and roll that money into more versatile gym equipment instead.

Just be aware that there are major differences in jump rope design and the material their constructed from.  As with anything, you’ll get what you pay for.  I’m not saying it’s mandatory to drop $40 on a piece of rope with handles, but having a jump rope that spins freely at the handle-rope junction is nice, and I’d suggest purchasing cable rope to increase it’s lifespan.

I’ve broken a bunch of shitty quality ropes jumping and it’s frustrating when it happens and potentially harmful to your body, pets or personal belongings.

Rogue Fitness has great ropes for cheap, check out their selection.

It’s brilliant that “high end” jump ropes are selling for $40+, considering they are probably manufactured somewhere in China for less than $5. Not a bad profit there. Alibaba, here I come.

Active Rest

Jumping rope as a filler exercise in the middle of a workout is fantastic.

Here is how you would position jumping rope as a “filler exercise” :

Squat x10

Jump Rope x50 rotations

Push-Up x10

Jump Rope x50 rotations

Chin-Up x10

Jump Rope x50 rotations

Lunges x10 Right/Left

Jump Rope x50 rotations

… rinse and repeat for rounds and/or time.

Look at that!  Equipment needed?… your body and a jump rope.  Simplicity.

A workout like the one above is resourceful, barebones fitness at it’s best.  50 rotations of the jump rope might not seem like a lot at first, but remember that the fatigue is accumulating as you complete the work.  The bodyweight exercises provide a sub-maximal muscular challenge while jumping rope serves as a temporary break from that muscular effort.

Jumping rope as active rest in between resistance based exercises really highlights the self-limiting idea.  As technique and posture wear down with fatigue, your jump cadence will also slow or force a rest altogether.  The rope gives you instant feedback on your technique and fatigue.

It takes tremendous discipline to tame your thoughts, breath and posture when your heart rate is raging at 85%-90% of max BPM.  You’ll know what I’m talking once you’re in the storm.

The wrap up…

Jumping rope is a bad ass training method.  I support it 100%.  Boxers, martial artists and athletes have jumped rope for ages to develop high level conditioning that transfers.

Just remember that a jump rope is a tool.  It’s a small piece of a much larger puzzle.  It’s provides an inexpensive, yet effective vehicle for cardiovascular conditioning that is uniquely different than other traditional cardio activities like running or biking.  Not better, not worse, just different.

Also consider that there are rarely dangerous training methods.  I think my days of prefacing all of my writing with words of caution are behind me.  Fitness protocols and tactics become dangerous when they fall into the wrong hands or they are abused with negligence.  Take an honest assessment if there is anything out of whack with your body that should be considered before you start jumping.

Exercise common sense and you all of the positive effects of jumping rope…

Cheers to jumping rope…

Kyle

Basics of The Ido Portal Training Method

Quick Tips

Ido Portal

{Photo Credit:  www.idoportal.com}

Ido Portal is everywhere on the internet these days.  There is no shortage of Ido Portal movement videos on YouTube and commentary from bloggers and podcasters regarding his views on the health and wellness industry.

[I do not speak for Ido Portal in any way.  Ido’s his own man with his own ideas.  Anything that I write or discuss on this blog is my interpretation his published information on his social media page, his old blog and other information that continues to surface and circulate around the internet.]

I have a deep strength and conditioning background.  It’s traditional in every sense of the word.  Probably too traditional in fact.  It’s taken years to learn how to open up my mind to other training philosophies.  Old habits die hard.  When I first started reading about Ido’s movement philosophies, it clicked with me immediately.

Since my initial exposure to Ido’s work, I’ve begun integrating many of his beginner movement drills into my own workouts (I cannot promote anything that I haven’t experienced first hand).

It’s been humbling, frustrating and exciting to explore new realms of movement.

Here’s my interpretation of the “movement culture”.

Ido Portal Training Methodology…

If you’re looking to get the summarized view (movement is a hard topic to summarize) of what drives  Ido Portal’s movement methodology, it’s generally accepted that it looks something like this:

Isolation—>  Integration—> Improvisation

It’s challenging to find any sort of clarity on Ido’s teachings from afar.  I live in Wisconsin, he’s from Israel.  But he is a man that is constantly on the move, traveling from country to country quite quickly as his services are in high demand right now.

However, of what is currently understood about Ido’s training philosophies, the transition from isolation to integration to improvisation serves as the fundamental backbone from which all of his coaching progresses.

It’s a logical progression in my mind.

Isolation

Isolation based movement for Ido begins at a progression above what is generally accepted by most personal trainers and strength coaches.

Bicep curls, tricep push downs and crunches won’t be found anywhere in the Ido Portal Method rolodex.

But, I see no reason why these isolated exercises can’t be used as supplements to enhance the execution of Ido’s version of isolated movement.

For Ido, the translation of isolation is simple:  Isolation = movement patterns

Movement patterns = squats, lunges, planking, vertical pulling (chin ups, pull ups), crawling, hip hinging and power training with barbells, kettlebells, etc.

The lowest rung of Ido’s movement classification system represents what’s commonly viewed as the highest rung of the ladder for anyone else.  This is a positive shift for the health industry.

Mediocre training tactics shouldn’t be applauded when we know that more effective, higher level movement systems exist, and are achievable through proper progression.  It is our duty to challenge ourselves physically.

Ido has uncovered this idea and deserves credit for spearheading the movement.

Integration

Integrating the foundation built with isolation based movement.  A squat is no longer just a squat.  The squat becomes an initial movement pattern spread into a series of other movement patterns.

Here is a great video example of what I’m referring to:

It’s a revolutionary perspective on modern day fitness, and something that I believe the world will slowly beginning warm up to.

Nike has…

Ido Portal Nike

Ido often refers to himself as a “mover”, thus the name of his ever popular training camps, “MovementX”.

I would love to attend one day, I can only imagine the wealth of information and coaching that takes place at these movement camps.

If a picture is worth a 1,000 words, than this video is worth a million.  This is another example of integration…

Again, integration leverages the physical qualities developed from isolation training, and progresses them a step further into something called movement sequencing.  I’ve watched the famous “Locomotion Research” video 50+ times I bet, it never gets old watching someone move like that.  All of the movement sequences shown in the video are difficult, especially if you think you’re just going to throw on your running shoes, drop down and enter into a flow.

You’ll be humbled by the amount of integrated mobility, stability and strength needed to complete the moves.

Improvisation…

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

Dominating isolation gives way to integration which then gives way to the final progression of his movement philosophy… improvisation.

If you think about it, world class gymnasts don’t even express improvised movement during their competition routines.  It’s all been practiced and choreographed prior to the showcase.  I’m not trying to take anything away from gymnasts (because they represent the top 1% of great movers on the planet), I am just bringing to light the fact that they are executing routines that have been practiced hundreds, if not thousands of times before they are presented before judges and an audience.

The interesting thing about improvisational movement, is that Ido still thinks that there is something to be investigated beyond it.  His recent interview on the London Real podcast provided some insight into this thought.

Where do we go after improvisation?  Ido wasn’t quite sure, but the feeling is that something else exists…

I feel that Ido Portal represents an incredible shift in how we currently view fitness.  Humans are engineered to move (climb, run, jump, roll, carry, etc) and I think that there is an emerging sector of people that want to experience the thrill of moving once again.

More traditional forms of building physical fitness certainly aren’t going anywhere soon, nor should they.  If isolation represents the foundation from which higher levels of movement are built, we still need to be encouraging the execution the basics of isolation using technique driven power, strength, stability and mobility based exercises/drills.

A stronger, more stabile, more mobile, more resilient human is an improved human.  One that is able to contribute and operate on a higher level.

Since this initial evaluation on Ido Portal’s training methodology, the fans are still waiting for published work from Ido.  Unfortunately, nothing yet.  But, there are other avenues and world-class programs to follow.

Here are a few highly effective resources I recommend based on my experience and author credibility…

Animal Flow is going to bring you the closest to Ido’s locomotion drills.  It’s a brilliantly designed program full of ground based movements, unlike anything I’ve seen before.

While I think the name is weird, Barstarzz YouTube videos are amazing and their strength and bodyweight control are nearly second to none.  Barstarzz have recently released the BTX (Body Transformation Extreme) training program and it looks awesome!  Without question, following a well designed program will get you results 10x faster than half-ass dabbling with cool exercises you watched on YouTube.  Check out the BTX program if you’re serious about true bodyweight dominance.

Ido has very outspoken about not falling into the trap of chasing aesthetic appeal over movement integrity, but I think the reality is most of us enjoy seeing the aesthetic shift in our appearance that comes from adding muscle and ditching fat.  If that sounds like something you are interested in, C-Mass is best for you.  This is a done-for-you training guide with an emphasis on building muscle.

Tacfit is another challenging bodyweight training system I accidentally bumped into a few years ago (which I ignored for some time, mistake) that has really impressed a lot of people, and rightfully so.  screen-shot-2016-09-10-at-7-14-47-am

Tacit is an extremely well thought out and covers all angles of building physical fitness, with beginner exercises transitioning into more advanced movement techniques.  If you’ve read this blog long enough, you know that I preach exercise progression, so naturally I love this.

 

Cheers to the basics of Ido Portal’s training methods…

Kyle

 

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Make Your Bed and You’ll Succeed In Your Fitness Endeavors

Quick Tips

I’m an inspirational video junkie.

If I can find a great TED Talk or a video from a individual who has accomplished some amazing feats and has something to share about it, I am going to watch it.

Extracting value from anything and everything-video or the written word- has been a hobby of mine for a quite some time now, and this morning’s extraction was especially enlightening and thought provoking, definitely worth the 19 minutes of time to take it all in.

The video I watched was from this year’s University of Texas graduation commencement speech, where alumnus William H. McRaven was the guest speaker to nearly 8,000 graduating seniors.

McRaven is a big deal in the military, as he is the acting commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command. He helped organize the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Not bad for the resumé.

There were a great number of points in McRaven’s speech that are worth discussing, but one in particular seemed to resonate with me.

It had to do with the SEAL training instructors entering the barracks every morning and conducting a stringent inspection of each SEAL candidates bed.

What were they observing? How well they made their made their bed.

Sheets needed to be square and crisp around each corner, covers pulled tight, extra blanket folded and placed gently at the foot of the “rack”, pillow placed carefully in at the head of the bed, perfectly centered.

The bed needed to be made to perfection, each and every day, no exceptions whatsoever. McRaven went on to comment, “It was a simple task- mundane at best.”

But the point of the task was in the wisdom behind it’s execution.

“If you make your bed everyday you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another.

By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.”

Here comes the magic statement (the wisdom if you will)…

“If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right”.

Although this sounds like something that many of you have probably heard over and over again, it deserves to be revisited the brilliance is in it’s simplicity.

Especially if you’re chasing fitness or any health related goal.

You need not worry about supplementation, fancy magazine exercises or any other minutiae if you are not already executing the basics of drinking water, eating whole foods, sleeping, and moving around more frequently and with purpose.

Doing so is putting the cart ahead of the horse, and will leave you filled with anxiety, broke and disappointed. I speak from experience first and foremost.

The magic solution to fitness (and health for that matter) is consistently (and frequently) executing the basics of human movement, nutrition and sleep despite all of the urges to not do so.

Stopping to make your bed in the morning gives you momentum throughout the rest of the day.

It really doesn’t matter what style of nutrition you choose (Paleo, Intermittment Fasting, more frequent feedings, square meals, etc) or how you choose to train (long slow cardio, powerlifiting, movement based, gymnastics, metabolic resistance, etc), if you can’t make you bed… you’re not doing the basics.

You’ve left a gap in the process. Your tactics are lacking the fundamental elements from which all other higher level tactics must rest upon.

If you want to draw some parallels to exercise and making your bed, I would say that the entire concept of exercise progression starts with making your bed.

If you want to move like Ido Portal or an elite gymnast, you better understand that it takes years of movement practice to achieve that level of movement. Practicing handstands once a week when it is convenient for you won’t cut it.

If you want to deadlift 600lbs, you better start with successfully pulling 135lbs with flawless form first. Heck, can you hinge your hips correctly without any weight? Start there.

You don’t have to like the timeless principles of overload and exercise progression, but you should probably learn to respect them.

Those who are consistent in their approach to overload and detailed with their attention to moving through exercise progressions often make the fastest advances and the greatest gains, all without sacrificing the integrity of your bones and joints. You can go hard, but go hard with “smart” always in the back of your mind.

And on and on…

Here are a few other make your bed scenarios…

“Can you teach me how to single arm swing a kettlebell and transition into a bottoms up squat to press”?

– “Have you made your bed?”

“Can you share with me why I should be eating more coconut oil and why MCT’s are good for the body?”

– “Have you made your bed?”

“What’s the difference between whey protein isolate and casein protein and how often should I be consuming each?

– “Have you made your bed?”

What’s the main idea here?

If a Navy SEAL, who is a professional warrior in essence, has to learn how to perfect the habit of making his bed prior to moving on to anything else in their training curriculum, why would it be any different for the average human?

Get your “make your bed” activity done right away in the morning. In other words, do something- and this can be anything really- that gives you momentum that can be leveraged for the remainder of the day.

This day to day execution will accumulate to weekly execution, which will spill over to monthly execution, which will spill over to yearly execution, which will culminate into your lifelong habits.

All of the small puzzle pieces, when put in their proper places, will eventually create a masterpiece.

Imagine, all you did was dedicate yourself to making your bed savagely well.

The magic is in the details, as basic as they may be.

 

 

Cheers to making your bed…

Kyle

(Check out the full video of this AMAZING speech on my Facebook Page)