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, 


Perfecting the 20 Minute Workout: Kettlebell Complex and Stationary Bike Sprints for Aggressive Fat Loss

Quick Tips

After a short breather from the blog, I’m back!  Ha, it feels good to be pecking at the keyboard again.

Hockey season has officially arrived, and my evenings are now that much busier.

The reception to my continuous posting of sample workouts has been awesome.  The feedback from readers has been amazing, so thank you for that.  I appreciate the personal emails and words of encouragement!

If you haven’t already, check out my Pinterest page, where I have begun compiling my visual versions of each of the workouts. I make them with PowerPoint, which can be time consuming and lacks visual creativity, but it can be incredibly helpful to not only read what I am talking about, but SEE it also.  You’re bound to find something on the Pinterest page that fits  you situation.  Find it and scale it to your abilities and you’ll be just fine.

As of late, I have been interested in progressing my staple kettlebell complex.

It’s the same kettlebell complex that I used for 90 days (yes, 90 days) successfully.  Of course I tweaked a few variables along the way (rest periods, reps, sets, etc), but for the most part, the complex was fairly unaltered from it’s original form.  Click the link above to find out more about that little self-experiment.

Since progression is the king of building human performance and has a great byproduct that rides along with it called FAT LOSS, I decided that I would make some simple adjustments to my staple complex-style workout.

The original complex looked like this:

Original Kettlebell Complex

My goal was to keep the workout under 20 minutes while increasing the physical demands of the work being done in that time frame.  Anything beyond 20 minutes, and I have noticed a couple of things personally…

1)  I end up going through the motions to fill the work time.


2)  I have over-worked myself and have nothing left to give for the coming day’s workouts.

You’ll know when you’re suffering from #1.  You’ll hit 30 minutes of training time and you’ll feel like you need another 30 minutes of work just to get something out of the workout, or you’ll dog your rep cadence or technique just to fill time.  The work performed loses its quality and therefore loses its effectiveness.

Most of the time, the remedy to #1 is to shorten rest periods (or incorporating no rest periods) or progressing the exercises you’re using via weight.  Simply adding weight (in small and manageable doses) to incorporate some added stress to your training session will make a 30 minute training session seem unachievable.  But this is a good thing because keeping the work highly concentrated and strict to a 20-25 minute timeframe will pay off.

Higher quality work in shorter time.

#2 on the other hand, is a serious problem more so because it affects the future.  Since losing weight in the form of fat, replacing it with useful muscle and boosting performance is all about analyzing the past, digging in during the present while looking ahead to the future… draining your battery so much that you cannot manage a workout for 2-3 days can actually work against you.

Remember, any body endeavor that you embark on takes time.  Why?  Because it’s a process.  Once you come to grips with the fact that nothing is going to change overnight, or with just one workout, you can rest your mind and keep your training sustainable.

You’ve got to be able to train, rest/recover, train over and over again.

Nobody gets rich overnight, it takes time and diligence to build wealth.  The body follows similar rules.  The accumulating results of smaller focused training efforts will deliver.  Be patient and stay the course.  You’ll be fine.

The workout…

20 Minute Kettlebell Complex

Biking.  First and foremost, notice the addition of the Schwinn Airdyne sprint at the end of the round.  Maybe I should refer to it as an “effort” versus a “sprint”, since it’s a sub-maximal 1 minute ride.  I consider myself to be a conditioned individual, so my aim was keep my pace above 80rpm.  In the first few rounds, this was easy, but I knew it wouldn’t remain that way.  By the 4th and 5th round, it’s a bitch to maintain this pace.

I chose the stationary bike as the finisher at the end of each of the rounds for a reason.

Biking is a low impact activity and requires ZERO thought.  Just push the pedals at the pace that I’ve recommended and you’re golden.  The last thing anyone needs to be doing late in a circuit, complex or work-set (when you’re sucking wind) is skill work of any kind.  Injuries lurk in this realm.

Biking is the perfect blend of low impact, low skill, high metabolic demand.  Especially considering the total system weight of the complex up to that point.

Fatigue.  Secondly, I discovered that the ascending rest period tactic was perfect.  Right from my initial testing with this kind of rest period strategy, it was perfect.  Rarely does that happen when you draw up a workout.  Something usually misses or doesn’t flow once you’re in the belly of the beast, but having the rest periods increase in length as the rounds passed was right on the money.

Ascending Rest Periods

As the fatigue escalates, so does the amount of rest.  I found that the extra 5 seconds added to each round helped tremendously with my fatigue management during each round.

You’ll find that 75 seconds seems long in the beginning, yet by the 3rd and 4th round, 85 seconds and 90 seconds passes ridiculously fast.  During your rest period, focus energy on breathing.  Inhale aggressively through your nostrils, pushing the oxygen deep into the floor of your stomach, holding for a fraction of a second, then exhaling through your mouth.  Breathe deep into your belly, not your chest and neck.  

Nasal breathing for recovery is getting some headlines as of late, but this is an advanced tactic that takes courage (to be honest).  That’s not to say it cannot be practiced and successfully integrated into your training, just simply that’s its advanced and probably unnecessary for most people if you like to prioritize.

It sounds funny to say that breathing takes courage, but until you attempt to breathe with your mouth locked shut at 80-85% of your max heart rate, you may not understand.  It’s not a comforting sensation feeling like the air isn’t coming, which is similar to what a person experiences during an asthma attack.

Metabolic style training of any kind is designed to stress the muscles and cardiovascular system in a balanced fashion, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of exercise technique.  Just to be clear and piss pound that dead horse once more… poor exercise technique while under load is the world’s greatest recipe for INJURY during a workout.

The additional seconds of rest made a world of difference.

As I always recommend, scale the workout for yourself.  Start with longer rest in the earlier rounds, use less weight or bike for 30-45 seconds at a lower RPM instead of 1 min at >80 rpm.

Explore and tweak it as you go.  You can expect each “round + rest” to last 4+ minutes, with the later rounds lasting longer because of the increased rest.

You could say that I over-analyzed this workout, but my theory is that if you know what to expect during a tough training session, almost like you’ve been there before, you’ll be prepared to handle the stress.  A lot of people fear the unknown and higher ranges of physical work, so removing that fear may provide some encouragement to attack the workout with a newfound confidence.

Don’t be afraid to take breaks if you need them intra-round…

… and lastly…

… kick some ass.

Cheers to adjusting the simple variables to increase the impact of a workout!


(PS:  Nutrition is the ultimate accelerator of fat loss and fuel to improve performance… read this article and check out Precision Nutrition’s awesome products)