Macebell 360 Swings| Technique, Benefits and Workouts

macebell

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

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

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

“Wait… What’s a Macebell?”

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

The Macebell 

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

 

Benefits of Macebell 360 Swings

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

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

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

Here are a few notable benefits of Macebell 360 swings:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Macebell 360 Swing Technique

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

    Injury

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

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

    And I get it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Correcting Shoulder Mobility Problems with Macebell Exercises

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

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

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

Seems like a recipe for disaster. 

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

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

In my humble opinion, no.

Take this as a word of caution.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Selecting a Macebell Weight

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

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

Size up in weight with time and practice.  

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

The human body adapts quickly to repetition and repeated stress.

Light/Midweight Macebells = Higher reps

Heavy Macebells = Low reps

Same as lifting weights. 

Creating Workouts Using Macebell 360 Swings

Here’s a common question I get:

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

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

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

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

I prefer total body training sessions.  

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

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

Everywhere you go, bodyweight training is an option. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are a few 4 exercise circuits …

Circuit #1

Macebell 360 Swings x 10 each side

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

Sliding Push-Ups x 5 each side

Hollow Body Rocks x1 0

 

Circuit #2

Macebell 360 Swings x 10 each side

Body Rows x 8

Single-Leg Deadlift x 5 each side

Rotational Side Planks x 8 each side

 

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

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

I like to accumulate reps in a session.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I LOVE using macebell 360 swings inside of conditioning circuits.

This cardio circuit is a personal favorite:

Macebell 360 Swings x10 each side

200m SkiErg

Hip Thrust x15

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

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

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

 

Advanced Macebell 360 Variations

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

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

Here a few cool variations:

Macebell 360 High/Low Swings

By far, this is my favorite macebell combination.  

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

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

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

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

Macebell 360 Swing to Bicep Catch

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

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

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

 

Macebell 360 Swings vs Kettlebell Swings

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

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

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

Two different paths of travel train different muscles.  

For reference, here are kettlebell swings:

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

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

It’s pretty bizarre. 

The kettlebell?  Pretty balanced piece of equipment.  

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

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

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

Where to find/buy Macebells

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

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

Eventually, I went with these Apollo Macebells.

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

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

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

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

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

 

One Kettlebell, 3 Fat Loss Workouts

Motion

Only one kettlebell?  NOT A PROBLEM.

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

I actually prefer to workout with one kettlebell.  

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

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

The training effect will be profound and significant.  

Each exercise listed has suggested reps for that particular exercise.  

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

… make lightweight feel heavier…

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

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

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

Note:  Some exercises are impossible to slow down.  

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

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

Perfect for the Home Workouts

Kettlebell and bodyweight exercises are PERFECT for home workouts.

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

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

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

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

Warming Up

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

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

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

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

Pretty cool. 

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

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

Workout #1:

8 Half Get Ups

8 Goblet Squats

8 Kettlebell Diamond Push-Ups

8 Bent Over Rotary Rows

8 Single-Leg Deadlift 

8 Burpees

Workout #2: 

Snatch

Clean-Squat-Press

Reverse Lunge

Split Stance Rows

Optional:  active rest using jumping jacks

 

Workout #3:

Squat to Press

Plank Rows

Hollow Body Rocks

Split Squat Jumps

Swings

 

Bonus Workout Finisher

Anything left in the tank?  

Give this workout finisher a shot… 

10 Push-Ups

10 Right Single Leg Hip Lifts

10 Left Single Leg Hip Lifts

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

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

FULL RANGE OF MOTION REPS ONLY.

Don’t stop until 100 reps are achieved.  

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

Fill out those jeans 👖. 

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

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

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

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

Want more home workout options?

✅ Check out these posts:

👉 Learn more about movement flow!

👉 Turkish Get Ups Kick Ass

👉 Home Workout Options

 

Jump Rope, Kettlebell and Bodyweight Workouts

fat loss, Motion, Workouts

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

How heavy of a kettlebell?  

Good question.  

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

How heavy is a “moderately” weighted kettlebell?  

Good question.

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

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

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

A generalized recommendation for weight selection is:

Males:  44lb (20kg) or 53lb (24kg)

Females:  26lb (12kg) or 35lb (16kg)

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

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

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

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

Warm-Up

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

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

 

Workout Structure:

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

 

#1 Jump Rope + Clean-Squat-Press

30 second Jump Rope

6 Right/Left Single Arm Clean-Squat-Press 

 

#2 Jump Rope + Lunge + Row + Rocks

60 second Jump Rope 

6 Right/Left Reverse Lunges

8 Bent Over Rows

8 Hollow Body Rocks

 

#3  Jump Rope + Ground Game + Swings

30 second Jump Rope 

10 Kettlebell Swings

10 yard Forward/Backward Crawl

10 yard Sideways (lateral) Crawl

10 yard Crab Walk

10 Kettlebell Swings

30 second Jump Rope

 

#4 Jump Rope + Ground Game Part II

60 second Jump Rope 

6 Scorpions

8 Cossack Squats

 

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

30 second Jump Rope 

10 Kettlebell Swings

5 Dive Bombers

10 Goblet Squats

 

These are simple, approachable workouts.  

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

Stay active, stay healthy.   

 

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

Motion

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

The theme is SIMPLICITY.  

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

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

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

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

It’d look something like this:

Day 1:  Mobility, Crawling, Kettlebell Swings

Day 2:  Mobility, Upper Body Pull, Squat

Day 3:  Mobility, Cardio Circuit

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

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

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

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

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

Wait, isn’t crawling just for kids?

Nope.   

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

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

Crawling

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

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

THERE ARE ALWAYS OPTIONS.

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

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

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

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

God bless the process of adaptation. 🙌

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

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

Kettlebell Swings

Kettlebell swings pack a punch considering how minimalist they are.  

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

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

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

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

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

Benefits of kettlebell swings:

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

Crawling Variations 

📺 Forward/Backward Crawl

📺 Sideways (Lateral) Crawl

📺 Bear Walk

📺 Lizard Crawl

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

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

 

Kettlebell Swing Variations

The video above demonstrates 3 basic kettlebell swing variations:

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

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

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

Nano-Circuit Training

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

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

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

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

All of your energy can be directed at moving well.  

Here are a few ideas for you to try:          

Forward/Backward Crawl + 2-Arm Kettlebell Swings

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

Side-to-Side Crawl + Single Arm Kettlebell Swings

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

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

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

Lizard Crawl + Hand to Hand Kettlebell Swings

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

I am a HUGE proponent of moving with discipline. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Home Gym Workouts! Total Body Sandbag Circuit for Fat Loss and Muscle

Motion

Today’s workout is a short (but effective) total-body sandbag circuit.

Major movement patterns only:

👉 Push

👉 Pull 

👉 Squat

👉 Modified Hip Hinge

👉 Core 

Before the Workout: MOBILITY

Before the workout, I like to work on mobility.  

Mobility training IS strength training. 

Everyone can reap the benefits from improving joint mobility. 

Here’s a mobility sequence that’ll prime the hips for the workout ahead while humbling your ego. 🔥 

Check out MyDailyMobility for more mobility torture

The Workout

6 bent over rows

6 modified dragon squats

15 loaded hip lifts

8 floor presses

6 curl-ups to eccentric dragon flags

✅  5-6 rounds

✅  Rest periods:  45-90 seconds

⏰ This workout will take 18-22 minutes to complete.  

22 minutes of time invested to train the entire body is not bad. The sheer amount of work and incomplete rest periods will test your cardio as well. 

Workouts DO NOT need to be super long, or packed with the lastest and greatest fancy exercises to be effective. 

Short burst, higher intensity efforts using time tested exercises will deliver a potent training effect.

The intensity of this resistance training workout will put you on track to losing fat and gaining muscle.

Post-workout, the key is to pay attention to nutrition and hydration to leverage the effort of the workout.  

Don’t waste the effort!

Get a good night’s sleep and get ready to attack tomorrow’s session. 

Sandbag Training at Home

Sandbags are perfect for the home gym and have a lot of uses.  

Common exercises such as push-ups, squats, lunges and body rows can be enhanced dramatically via loading up with a sandbag.  

Progressive loading is vital to building strength.

Heavier sandbags can be used as an anchor point for quality core training.  Grip the handles and get to work. 

Click👆 image to see Instagram post 

On that note, I prefer loading push-ups with a sandbag versus weight plates.  Sandbags mold themselves to your back and do not slide off like weight plates.  

Shimmying the sandbag up, over and onto your back requires some effort.  It’s good to be a DIY’er.

Watch this video to see what I mean.

When it comes to loading a push up with barbell weight plates, I wish you the best of luck flipping them onto your back.  One is doable, two is tough.  Balancing a weight stack on your back can be annoying and take away from the exercise. 

Power training with a sandbag.  While awkward at times, power training with a sandbag is pretty realistic if you think about it.  Sandbags move a lot differently than a barbell, and the effort translates really well into the real world.  

Although sandbags generally have several different handle options, the fabric of sandbags is tough to grip.  

Sandbags are odd-shaped to begin with and they tend to change shape during exercise.  You’re constantly adjusting to the shift in shape. 

Pro Tip:  Overstuffing a sandbag diminishes the shape-shifting benefits of sandbag training.  Leave adequate space inside the outer shell for the inner bags to move around.  

Carrying a heavy sandbag with a bear hug grip cannot be performed with iron, nor can shouldering exercises. Both of which are total body efforts and will drain energy from your soul.

Click 👆image above to view Instagram post

I use and value barbell lifts, but I’ve never had to lift any object outside of the controlled gym environment ergonomically shaped with perfect weight distribution  like a barbell.  

It just doesn’t happen.

On the other hand, sandbags are a bear fight every single time.  Each repetition is a wrestling match, similar to the giant cardboard box Fed Ex dropped at my door.  

Drag, flip, toss, throw, slam.  Several fitness companies sell super durable outer sandbag shells that allow for throwing, tossing, slamming, dragging and flipping.  

🖐 Pushing or dragging a sandbag will reduce the lifespan of the bag, especially on rougher surfaces.  Regardless, sandbags can be pushed and dragged.

Save your floors. Sandbags will not destroy surfaces the way iron will when dropped.  Sandbag training is also “neighbor-friendly” from a noise perspective since it’s a “soft” training tool. 

 

More Home Gym Workouts!

👉 10-minute circuits

👉 31 Exercises to Stay Fit

👉 Beginner Lizard Crawl Exercise Variations

 

Home Gym Workouts! 10 Minute Circuit Training

home gym

Today’s home gym workout is all about simplicity. 

Keeping it simple, is keeping it effective. 

Turkish Get-Ups, crawling, traveling squats and lunges, push-ups, rolling are all included in the 10 minute mini-circuits of the session.  

Get ready to dirty your shirt.  

If you’re unfamiliar with any of the exercises mentioned above, please head over to my YouTube channel and perform a search using those terms.  

Always, always, always learn movement mechanics of new exercises while fresh and in an isolated fashion.  

Learning an exercise in isolation means you’re repping out that exercise with the basic work-then-rest approach.  Perform specific reps for a number of sets, rest, then attack the exercise again. 

Fatigue can be managed with this approach, allowing movement precision to become the prime focus. 

No one is above learning movements in isolation.  

The exercise’s degree of difficulty might change from person to person depending on fitness level (beginners versus elite movers), but the approach is the same.  

Learn new movements in isolation, code the movement into your system, do what you want from there. 

Workout Structure

The full workout consists of 3 x 10-minute sections, each with a different movement emphasis.

You can execute all 10-minute sections, or perform 1 or 2 depending on your space, equipment and time.  

Movement Emphasis

    • Workset #1: Turkish Get-Ups
    • Workset #2: Traveling Squats and Lizard Crawl
    • Workset #3: High Plank Step-Squat-Reach-Roll Flow

The goal is to perform the work non-stop 10 minutes with minimal rest.

Of course, movement quality is king, so if rest is needed take it to preserve the quality of each repetition.  

10 minutes is the target exertion time.  If you need to reduce the working time for each section, please do so.  Start with a duration you can tolerate, any amount of time is better than doing nothing.  👊 

After completing a 10-minute section, grab a drink, towel off the sweat and get ready for the next section.  Don’t waste time. 

Equipment List:

OMG!!! I need equipment?!?!

Not all workouts require equipment, but this one does, sorry… 

    •  * Kettlebell, dumbbell, sandbag, etc (weight for Turkish Get-Ups)
    •  Bodyweight
    •  12-15 feet of straight-away space

🤷‍♂️ If you don’t have any weights, find any object of reasonable shape and weight laying around the house that can add weight to the Turkish Get-Ups.  

Get creative, it can be anything.  A loaded backpack, children who are durable, a pet with a calm demeanor.  

At the end of this post, I’ve included equipment shopping options.

 

Set #1: Turkish Get-Ups

No secret sauce here.  

Turkish Get Ups are one of the best exercises on the planet. 

Stand up and lay back down for 10 minutes, alternating sides each rep. 

Turkish Get-Ups are a total body exercise and 10 minutes of continuous Turkish Get Ups is total body cardio conditioning.

Ideally, you’d have access to several different weights to switch it up.  Start by using a lighter weight, bumping up the load every 3 minutes or so.  End this 10-minute section with the heaviest load you have.

If you only have one weight, just use that.  You’ll get a good enough training effect.

I prefer to use kettlebells for Turkish Get-Ups, but I’ve used many other gym tools with success.  Dumbbells or sandbags can be used to add load to the Turkish Get Ups.

 

Set #2: Traveling Squats + Lizard Crawl

I love integrating isolated exercises into circuits.

Once you own a movement pattern, the options for using that movement pattern become limitless.

In the video, I’m traveling back and forth across a 15-foot distance.  

From right to left, I use a descending modified dragon squat, uncrossing the legs and standing up with a Cossack squat to shimmy across the room.  

After reaching the wall, I return to the start position with the king of locomotion patterns, the lizard crawl.  

Turn around, switch sides, repeat.

Dragon Squat.  The dragon squat is going to be a bit too aggressive of an exercise for a lot of people.  

Here are exercises to substitute:

👉  Walking Lunge (forward or backward)

👉  Lateral Lunge

Lizard Crawl.  If you’ve never tried a full lizard crawl, a work capacity circuit isn’t the time or place to dabble.  The lizard crawl is an aggressive pattern best learned fresh. 

I suggest regressing the crawling pattern to one of the following:

👉  Forward/Backward Crawl

👉  Lateral Crawl

👉  Bear Walk

 

Set #3: High Plank Step-Squat-Reach-Roll Flow

This simple ground-based flow includes a few common exercises (push-ups, sit-ups) along with uncommon ground-based flow movements (crab reach, rolling).

For some, this might be the first introduction into integrated movement conditioning.

Moving your body naturally through space.  

This isn’t your basic “jogging in place, knees to elbows, shadow boxing fitness” circuit.  

It’s bodyweight and movement, which will likely be humbling for a lot of people, including those who spend a lot of time resistance training in the gym.  

You’ll feel the difference between natural movement and linear exercise while training like this.  

During this work set, focus on smoothing out the transitions between each exercise.  Make the entire sequence look like it’s fused together into a single unit.  

I’ve got a semi-truck load of flow videos on YouTube.  

 

 🛒 Need Equipment?

5 years ago, I wouldn’t have referred anyone to Amazon for fitness equipment.

Today, Amazon is one of the best options to buy fitness equipment.  Prime Shipping is hard to beat for shipping heavy gym equipment directed to your home fast.  

👉 Kettlebells

👉 Kettle Gryp (converts a dumbbell to a kettlebell)

👉 Powerblock Adjustable Dumbbell (cost and space effective dumbbell)

Give each of these mini-workouts a try, leave a comment, ask questions, keep grinding folks!

A Giant List of Effective Core Exercises| Part III

Motion

Need water?  A cigarette 🚬 ?  Struggling to stay awake 😴 ?

Yeah, me too.  

If you made it this far, you’ve read through 30 different core exercises. 

Congrats, you’re in an elite group, primed with knowledge.

Brace yourself for exercises 31-48.  

Here. We. Go.

31.  Rotational Throws

The human body must be able to produce force and resist forces acting on it.  Rotation is a missing component of a lot of workout programs. 

Our bodies move through a ton of rotational patterns in sport and daily living. 

Don’t necessarily reach for the heaviest weighted ball. 

10lb, 12lb a 15lb medicine ball is plenty heavy. 

I like this style of medicine ball.

3-5 sets of 5-8 throws per side (ideally early in the workout the body is fresh).

32.  Chops and Lifts

Chops and Lifts are two simple (not easy) exercises that most people will find they: 

a) struggle to execute on either side (even with lightweight).

b) can only successfully do on one side, not the other (even with lightweight)

There are many different positions to perform Chops and Lifts in, but the inline position is one of the most humbling. 

Assume a half-kneeling position (one knee down, one knee up). 

Place the down knee directly behind the heel of the up leg.  So, make a straight line with your up and down legs. 

Chopping or Lifting once in this position is dramatically more difficult. 

33.  Anti-Rotation Press Outs

Training rotation is often forgotten yet a HUGE part of everyday movement.  One of the core’s important functions is to brace against forces acting upon it. 

Stretching a resistance band under tension, pressing the hands out away from the body, you’re calibrating the core to resist rotational forces. 

3-5 sets of 8-12 repetitions.  

Hold each rep (elbows extended)  for 2-3 seconds.  Add time as needed. 

34.  Single-Arm Push-Ups

Everyone is fanatical about something, and I am fanatical about the value of single-arm push-ups.

To get started here, allow me to say that single-arm push-ups are not a circus exercise only for the flashy calisthenics athlete.  They are for EVERYONE.  Follow the progressions and you can make great gains with upper body pressing strength, stability, and range of motion. 

Single-arm push-ups are a fully scalable movement for a beginner.  A beginner can make single arm push ups more approachable by executing from a kneeling position, hands elevated on stairs/bench/plyo box or by wrapping a resistance band around the chest to reduce the loading. 

All of these regressions will build strength while moving you closer to a full single arm push up. 

I have found single arm push-ups to be one of the best upper body pressing exercises available.

35.  Atomic Push-Ups

There is a time and place for isolated core work, and at some point, you realize that all exercises are “core work” on some level.  So if you can add a push up to a knee tuck, do it. 

The key to the knee tuck in this exercise is lifting the butt/hips to the ceiling, as high as possible, to make room for the knees tucking in toward the elbows. 

3-5 sets of 6-15 reps

36.  Core Smash

Core smash = intense core flexion contraction. 

Lay face-up on the floor. 

Place hands on the side of the head (fingertips just behind the ears), slowly bring your knees to meet your elbows, pressing elbow into the knees as hard as you can. 

Hold it there, think of something other than the cramp brewing in your mid-section.

The set ends when the elbows lose contact with the knees. 

Aim for brief holds at first, extending the duration as you gain strength. 

37.  Arch Body

The core is not only on the front of the body, easily seen in the mirror.  It wraps around your body like a weight belt.  Hard to see in the mirror, the glutes and spinal erectors are crucial for human performance, body health, and injury mitigation. 

Arch body exercise is the opposite of the Hollow Body exercise.  Chest down on the floor, you’re going to create a pronounced U-Shape by lifting the arms/back/hamstrings and heels. 

Many will feel weak during the arch body, cramping, etc.  It’s ok.  Hold as long as you can, rest and repeat. 

Hammer the front side, hammer the backside. 

38.  Hollow Body High Plank or Push Ups

Assume a high plank position (aka the top of a push up), roll your pelvis under, arch your spine and protect your shoulder blades to make as pronounced of a “U-Shape” as possible. 

Hold there and embrace the suck, because it’s a highly rewarding position but a sucky position at first.  The hollow body position is fundamental for many more difficult gymnastics based movements.    

Beginner level gymnastics posture here.  Very humbling. 

39.  Stability Ball Stir-the-Pot

Stability balls are naturally unstable.  So, putting the elbows on the stability ball to perform a plank creates a wobbly situation.  Now, add a circular motion with the elbows as if you were stirring a giant pot of soup. 

Why do this exercise?  Because adding more time to a marathon length standard plank is not what most people need.  More time doesn’t mean greater gains.  At some point, especially with planks, make them harder. 

One way to make them harder is to add a dynamic movement to a fundamental stability exercise. 

 

40.  Suspension Trainer Pendulums

Slip your feet into the loops of a suspension train or gymnastics rings, turn over and assume a high plank position (top of a push up).  The feet are now suspended while the upper body is supporting. 

Initiate a side to side motion pendulum motion from the waist on down by activating the hands/arms/torso.  Grip the ground hard and swing the legs without breaking at the low back, hips, knees. 

This is a very non-traditional exercise that will blow up your mid-section.  Expect oblique soreness in the days that follow.

3-5 sets of higher repetitions, maybe 10-20 per side.

41.  Core Compression Pulses

Core compression pulses are a beginner level gymnastics exercise, which in itself is humbling to think about. 

To do them, sit on the floor, upper body erect and legs straight out in front of you. 

Place hands on the outsides of the thighs, pressing into the ground for assistance as you lift each leg entirely off of the ground, pulsing up and down. 

Lift the legs as high as possible without rocking, bending the knees or compensating to do so. 

Core compression pulses are a high repetition exercise, but beginners don’t be surprised if you’re only able to get 3, 4 or maybe 5 before form breaks or cramping commences.

I like to work these early in the workout, before any other lifting or cardio because they are so demanding and isolating the motion is important.  3-5 sets of 4-20+ reps. 

42.  Loaded Carrying Variations

Loaded carries are incredible for core development and total body tension. 

For the functional fanatic in all of us who want every minute of strength work and cardio exercise to translate to real-world scenarios, is there any other mode of exercise more functional than carrying objects of varying weights, texture, shapes and sizes (not to mention carrying in various positions) from Point A to Point B?

Personally, I do not think so.

43.  Lizard Crawl + Push or Pull

Perform a lizard crawl while pushing or pulling an object of weight.  Simple as that. 

I hesitated to include this hybrid exercise but ultimately felt that people who can Lizard Crawl proficiently would enjoy adding a brutal push or pull to the exercise.

A sandbag on carpet or a hard floor surface, a kettlebell, dumbbell or weight plate can all be used as the equipment for the push and pull. 

I’ve used all of these tools with success, but I prefer using a sandbag on carpet or hardwood. 

44.  Spinal Waves

It’s been said, “we are as old as our spines”.

The spine is our life force and if we cannot move it when we need to, it is likely to become a problem down the road. 

Exercise tips:  Soft pump the wall for 100-200 reps most days of the week. 

Sounds like too much?  200 reps of spinal wave take less than 5 minutes and your body will thank you for the movement. 

45.  Standing Spine CAR’s

Lock in the hips, hug yourself and articulate in a circular fashion as if you were trying to dodge pushes from a boxer.  Say hello to controlled articulations and their ability to wake up the obliques.  Brace and breathe. 

46.  Hip CAR’s

Assume a quadruped position with hands, knees, and feet in contact with the floor.  Raise your leg out to the side of your body as high as possible, pretend like you’re a dog about to pee on a fire hydrant.  Be mindful to keep your shin bone parallel with the floor, which means your foot doesn’t move higher or lower than your knee.  

[The guys at MyDailyMobility.com teach controlled articulations and a lot of other effective mobility drills in their daily mobility program.  Give it a look.  Your body will thank you]

Draw a large circle with your knee (articulate) as you slowly move the knee behind the body.  This will look like the finishing position of a donkey kick.  Lower the knee back underneath the body, but don’t set it down.  Reverse the pattern. 

Many of the best “core” movements are not isolated movements, and they shouldn’t be because isolating the “core” is not how humans operate. 

47. Movement 20XX Kick Throughs

Side Kick Through’s are a basic movement element in Movement 20XX, resembling a break dancing type move.

Movement 20XX is a bodyweight focused, ground-based movement system packed with performance and restorative movement patterns. 

Begin in a quadruped position, hands and feet supporting the body (knees hover 1-2 inches off the floor). 

Rotate to one side by pivoting on the ball of the foot, opening up your chest to the side you’re turning toward. 

Slide the trailing leg through and “kick” it through until fully extended. 

While the leg kicks through, pull the opposite arm/hand back as if you were drawing back a bow and arrow. 

48.  Movement 20XX Supine Reach

This exercise is LOADED WITH BENEFITS. 

Posterior chain activation, controlled rotation of the torso, elongation of the often shortened muscles of the core.

This benefits of this exercise are plentiful:

  Opens up the torso and chest in a diagonal pattern (far hip to far shoulder)

  Challenges and improves shoulder stability on the loaded working arm

  Opens up the hips anteriorly

  Activates the posterior chain (gluten/hamstrings) moving into extension.

  Uncommon position (head and eyes get a different look at the world)

The End.  

 

 

FLOW| 4 Exercise Bodyweight Flow to Build the Hips, Shoulders and Spine

Motion

Give your hips, shoulders, and spine some love with this bodyweight only combination.

This flow features 4 bodyweight exercises and is for EVERYONE.  

Each of these exercises can help to “unwind” folks who sit for long durations throughout the day. You know, that shoulders and head forward, spine rounded, hamstrings and butt smashed against the chair posture.  

The same posture that sucks the life out of many of us. 

Our bodies adapt to positions we spend time in the most, but I am telling you, spend some time working through basic flows like this one and you will be surprised at the difference it makes over time.

Here’s the flow…

Exercises featured:

  Table Top

  Table Top with Thoracic Rotation

  Crab Reach (from Animal Flow)

  High Bridge Rotation

*** Links to exercise demonstrations.

 

Reps/Sets Suggestions…

Start with 4-5 reps on each side.  Find a way to accumulate 3-5 sets per session, most days of the week.  It might sound like a lot, but we are talking about 5-7 minutes of movement.  

In a perfect world, you’d be able to work through this combination during designated workout time. 

However, despite what social media projects, nobody lives in a perfect world, so get it in when you can.  

This is a bodyweight-only flow combination, not incredibly demanding, but it does require some attention.  Practice quality to get quality.  Take pride in being detailed.  

Constant practice is key to learning new movements and refining the technique of those movements.

Personally, I prefer higher rep ranges. 

Go north of 10 reps on each side.  

I’m not afraid to turn on a good song and work combinations like this for the duration of the song, getting lost in the flow, turning attention inward to my breathing, relaxing the jaw, steadying the hands on the floor and shoulders as well.

Even after this combination becomes “easy”, I recommend revisiting it periodically to check in on each exercise and shape.

 

Exercise tips and commonalities…

  Drive the hips up toward the ceiling, squeezing your butt and rolling your pelvis toward your belly button.

  Maintain weight distribution on the midfoot/heel, pull the heels actively toward the hands, squeeze the thighs together (roughly 6-8 inch gap between)

  Keep the rib cage tucked.  

  Stay active with the shoulders vs. slumping, search for shoulder extension.  

  Allow the head and neck to relax and fall back in line with the spine.

–  Breathe.

  Return to the same starting position (butt swinging between the hands) before re-elevating the hips back into extension to complete the next exercise. 

*** If you’re able to flow through all 4 exercises, change sides after completing the high bridge thoracic rotation.  Or, change sides after the most difficult exercise for your current fitness capacity.  

 

Benefits of this flow… aka: “What’s in it for me?”

  Hip extension reinforces glute engagement. 

  Stretching the hip flexors 

  Shoulder extension and stability

  Pelvic control

  Thoracic extension and rotation (spine mobility)

  Movement transition practice

  A different view of the world in Crab Reach and High Bridge Thoracic Rotation

  Exposure to new body positions and movements

 

Closing… 

“Exposure to new body positions and movements” might be the most important benefit of practicing this simple movement combination.  

Exposure, exploration, and problem solving is the gift of trying anything new.  

I was reminded of this while reading Erwan Le Corre’s new book, “The Practice of Natural Movement”.  Erwan founded MovNat and has been promoting natural movement tactics well before it was popular to do so.  

Children get TONS of exposure to new movements while navigating the playground or in Physical Education class or while learning any new motor skill.  It’s not “working out” to them, it’s fun and playful.  Moving into adulthood, people lose this playfulness and curiosity.

Anyways, the simple message is continually introducing the body to new and challenging positions/movements is fantastic for growing mind-body connection. 

Expanding your range of movement skills is a worthy investment.   

You’re never too sophisticated to move.

It’s not necessary to obsessively think about movement at all times of the day.  Leave this to the gurus.  But, movement of some kind must be a part of your day, most days of the week.  Rack up the mileage walking, lifting, carrying, maneuvering, navigating, crawling, rowing, running, pressing, flowing… whatever.  

I’ve never met a person who adopted a progressive movement regimen who regretted it.

People who stick a movement regimen feel better, move better, have more energy and look better.  No sugar coating here.  

Success leaves clues.

Moving is both the benefit and the medicine.

Wolff’s Law:  Either use it or expect to lose it.  

Let me know what you think in the comments below…

 

 

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 

10 Best Exercises for Burning Stubborn Body Fat

fat loss

In the gym, accelerating the process of fat loss is simple.

But, like anything unfamiliar, how to go about achieving fat loss can be confusing from the outside looking in.  

What exercises should I choose?  How many sets/reps of each?  How much weight should I use?  How many days per week?  How long should the workout last?  

These are all great questions.  If you’re asking them, you’re on the right track.

In the gym, maximum metabolic disruption is the name of the game.  

In 30-45 minutes, you should be able to train nearly every muscle, priming it for fat loss and lean muscle layering.

Do more work in less time to create a global training effect.  

In some cases, you may do more work in the same amount of time, which is still a form of progress.

I tricked you, I’m sorry…

In a way, I tricked you into reading this article by including “best exercises” in the title.  

For that, I sincerely apologize.  But to be honest, saying one exercise is going to magically burn all the fat off your body is a complete lie.  

One exercise won’t do it.  

What we could say is some exercises are a much better choice for fat loss, and even going a bit further we could say the combination of several exercises in a workout session will give your body the best opportunity to eliminate unwanted fat.  

Generally speaking, multi-joint compound exercises get more muscles working together are better than isolated exercises which have only one joint moving and fewer muscles.  

Important thought:  The best fast loss exercises are also the best exercises for almost any fitness goal.  

Just as no single exercise is going to melt fat from your body, no single workout is going to burn all of the fat off your body.  

A series of smart workouts will accelerate the fat loss process.

It’s all about creating a training effect.

How can workouts help with fat loss?  

  • Burn calories at time of workout (thermic effect of exercise)
  • Increased calorie burn after workout (EPOC)
  • Build lean muscle (requires more calories to maintain itself)
  • Increase resting metabolic rate (60-80% of all calories are expended at rest)

How do we create a fat burning state in the gym?  

There are a few time-tested methods to jumpstart the fat burning process:

  •  Higher Intensity Interval Training (cardio conditioning)
  •  Multi-joint Resistance Training (muscle conditioning)
  •  Multi-Planar Ground-Based Movement (muscle and cardio)
  •  Be inefficient.
  •  The combination of all of the above.

High(er) Intensity Interval Training

“High” is going to vary from person to person.  What may be “high” for me might be too high for you, or vice versa.  Instead, I choose to refer to interval training as “high(er)”.  

For the purposes of this article, let’s refer to high intensity interval training as cardio dominant activities where you exert at intensities that causes your body to go into oxygen debt during the intense work sets.  

This type a training has a precise work:rest format that can be monitored by time or a heart rate monitor (beats per minute).   

Rowing, biking, running are amazing activities for interval training which have a higher emphasis on cardio conditioning.

Multi-Joint Resistance Training

Resistance training with BIG movements like squats, swings, pressing and pulling increases the thermic effect of activity (calories burned during exercise) and metabolic rate.  Resistance training also builds lean muscle which requires more energy to maintain and repair post-workout than fat tissue.  

Multi-Planar Ground-Based Movement

At risk of sound cliché, ground-based movement is the new kid on the block.  It’s a brilliant paradigm shift in how practice fitness, building movement capacity and improving strength and cardio.  

Ground-based movement is a very broad description for low position drills like crawling, rolling, bounding, hand balancing, yoga, etc.  Much of the modern ground-based movement training has been led by Ido Portal and Mike Fitch (creator of Animal Flow).

Inefficiency

The more inefficient you are at an exercise or series of exercises, the harder your body has to work to complete those exercises.  Muscles fatigue faster and more energy (calories) is expended doing the work.  

*** If you’re going to leverage inefficient exercise, make sure you have some kind of prior background experience with that exercise.  Don’t jump into a set of kettlebell swings midway through a workout if you’ve never swung a kettlebell.  This poses a high potential risk of injury.  Not worth it.  

Instead, re-visit exercises you haven’t included in your training sessions for a while.  You’ll still know how to execute exercise technique, but your body will have lost it’s efficiency.

Nutrition Scolding…

[No fat loss article would be complete without giving a head nod to importance of nutrition.  Creating a caloric deficit, eating mostly plants with adequate amounts of protein and hydration with low/zero calorie beverages (aka: water) is in fact the magic behind much of losing body fat.  

Keeping calorie expenditure higher than calorie intake, along with choosing nutrient-dense foods and beverages that will sustain your activity level and nourish your body post-exercise is the path to fat loss.]

Progressive Overload and Baseline Fitness Testing…

Progressive Overload is a foundational principle to all movement training.  

To help decide the appropriate amount of progressive overload needed for each exercise (and shape the structure of your workouts) it is important to establish a baseline of your movement capacity.  

A baseline fitness test gives you information (however painful of a reality it might be) on where you are starting from, so a plan can be organized to make future progress.

A baseline fitness test can be very simple:  

  • How many strict bodyweight push-ups, squats, lunges, chin-ups/pull-ups can you do?  
  • How long can you hold a front plank, side plank, dead hang from a bar?
  • How many burpees can you do in 60 seconds?
  • How far can you bear crawl before stopping?

Once you’ve got a baseline, you can pinpoint not only the exercises, but sets and reps, time under tension, rounds, rest periods and duration.  

Here are my picks for 10 best fat loss exercises…

Burpees (total body)


The burpee might be the single most hated exercise on this list, which why it deserves first mention. Burpees are a total body movement that combines a hip-hinge, plank, push-up, squat, and jump, all in one shot.  

Burpees are a logical choice for this list because they are a bodyweight exercise, which means you can do them anywhere and anytime.  

Workout challenge:  How fast can you complete 100 burpees?

Animal Crawling (ground-based total body)

I’d bet a lot of fat loss articles don’t include crawling as a valid form of exercise to burn fat, but it is.

Basic crawling variations like the bear, ape and crab are examples of beginner locomotion drills that will challenge your core and upper body endurance like little else.

Ground-based bodyweight workout programs like Animal Flow are built animal-based exercises, designed to reconnect your body’s natural ability to navigate movement on the floor.  

Even if you’re tight on space, find a way to include crawling in your next workout.  Over time, you’ll notice crawling more consistently will do wonders for increasing shoulder health, upper extremity endurance and integrated core control.  

If you want to dive into the world of ground-based movement, check out Animal Flow.   

Workout challenge:  Bear crawling work capacity (4 rounds)

  • Round 1:  Strict bear crawl as far as possible (measure by distance or time)
  • Round 2:  Rest 30 seconds and repeat for 3/4 distance or time.
  • Round 3:  Rest 30 second and repeat for 3/4 distance or time
  • Round 4:  Rest 30 seconds and repeat for 3/4 distance or time.

Turkish Get-Ups (total body)

Turkish Get-Ups (TGU’s) is a layered approach to moving from lying flat on your back to 

Go from lying on your back to standing as efficiently as possible… with weight in your hand.  In slang terms, this what a turkish get-up accomplishes.  

Inside of a turkish get-up, you’ve got many exercises:  cross-body diagonal abdominal crunches, static overhead weighted holds, lunges, windmills, hip lifts.  

A turkish get up is a movement sequence with many layers, all of which can be practiced on their own to enhance your TGU proficiency.  

Workout Challenge:  Complete 10 minutes of Turkish Get-Ups (continuous)

Kettlebell Snatches (ballistic total body)


Kettlebell snatch workouts are legendary for boosting conditioning and burning fat.  The ballistic nature of the snatches coupled with the large amount of muscles used makes the training effect incredible.

Even 1-2 minutes of aggressive snatches will leave you gasping.  The design of the kettlebell and the exercise technique of the snatch allows for a natural flow from rep to rep.  

Personally, I’ve rarely seen my heart rate climb as high as it does when snatching a kettlebell.  

This means a large amount of work can be done in a short amount of time.  

Workout Challenge:  Secret Service Snatch Test (SSST) 

Thrusters (total body)

Squat and press, squat and press, squat and press.  

“Thrusters” are the combination of a squat and an overhead press.  Fusing squats and presses together creates a massive training stimulus.  Thrusters are pure work, which no real-time to rest between each repetition.  

Thrusters can be performed using a variety of training tools:  kettlebells, barbells, sandbags or dumbbells.  All provide a slightly different look at the same exercise.

Workout Challenge:  Every minute on the minute for 10 minutes, complete 10 thrusters.

Kettlebell Swings (ballistic lower body pull)


Kettlebells by design, are naturally a great tool to burn fat.  

Similar to kettlebell snatches, there is a tremendous amount of muscle tension throughout the entire arc range of motion in a kettlebell swing.  Speed of repetition and muscles engagement create a training effect unlike any other fitness tool.  When the hips get involved in an exercise, it usually means a global training effect.  

Workout Challenge:  Complete 15 sec swings, 15 sec rest for 24 rounds (12 minutes)

Sandbag Squats (lower body push)

The sandbag is one of the most underrated training tools out there.  Unlike a barbell which has rigid structure, sandbags are constantly shifting and changing shape.  This requires your body to make constant adjustments to these shifts and shape in real-time.  Whether you’ve got 100lbs in a sandbag or 100lbs on a barbell, weight is weight.  But, I guarantee you a 100lb sandbag is going to feel a lot heavier than a 100lb barbell.  

Mix up how you hold the sandbag when squatting.  Bear hug, front rack, underarm hook and shouldering will challenge your body in very different ways.  

Workout Challenge:  Descending Sandbag Squats

  • Set #1:  Complete as many reps of sandbag squats as possible without rest.  
  • Set #2:  Rest 45 seconds, now complete half the reps of Set #1.
  • Set #3:  Rest 30 seconds, now complete half the reps of Set #2.
  • Set #4: Rest 15 seconds, now complete half the reps of Set #3.

Chin-Ups/Pull-Ups (upper body pull)


No fat loss article would be complete without mentioning vertical pulling exercises like chin-ups and pull-ups.  For many, these will be the most frustrating exercises on the list because they are frequently the weakest lifts on the list.

Exercise regression is the path to your first chin-up/pull-ups and exercise progression is the path to building on that achievement.  If you can’t yet execute a full range of motion chin-up/pull-ups, you’ve got a couple effective options:  decrease the weight being pulled or practice one phase of the exercise.  

Stretch band-assisted chin-ups/pull-ups will decrease the amount of weight you’re required to pull on each repetition, making the exercise more manageable.  Wrap the band around the bar overhead, then down around the shin of a flexed knee or way down around your foot.  

If don’t have a stretch band, you can still make gains by practicing one phase of the exercise, the eccentric or lowering phase.  Start at the top of the chin-up/pull-up and lower yourself to the bottom as slowly as possible.  Eccentrics are well-known for producing muscle soreness, you’ve been warned.  

Workout Challenge:  Perform a 1-Minute Chin-Up

Push-Up Variations (upper body push)

Push-ups are my choice for best upper body pushing exercise.  Pressing exercises can be split up into two categories:  vertical and horizontal.  Vertical pushing extends the arms overhead and horizontal pushing extends the arms out in front of the body.  

Push-ups can be done anywhere, anytime with no equipment.  The variations are seemingly limitless.  The basic traditional push-up is a fantastic choice for metabolic workouts, as it requires little thought and set-up, yet worthy training stimulus to the core and pushing muscles of the upper body. 

Workout Challenge:  Perform 15 push-ups every minute on the minute for 10 minutes (150 total reps)

Lunge Variations (lower body pull)


Lunges are lower body exercise to train primarily the hips, hamstrings and adductors.  

Lunging is unique because it has many variations.  You could lunge front to back, side to side, rotationally, explosively, moving across a distance, on an incline or decline, or stationary if space is limited.    

Adding external weight to a lunge will challenge the core and grip muscles.  External weight could be placed in several positions:  arms hanging at the sides, chest height in a racked position, arms extended overhead, resting on the shoulders or varied (one arm hanging down, the other supporting weight overhead)  

If you want to go hands-free and make lunging more natural, a weight vest is a great option.  

Being able to lunge successfully becomes more important as we age, to preserve and extend quality of life.  Most times we get up off the floor into a standing position, we are essentially performing a variation of a lunge.  

Splitting your stance (not to be mis-read as “splitting your pants”) reduces the width of your base of support which increases the instability.  L

Generally speaking, if you want to make a lower body exercise more challenging without adding weight, here is how you do it:

Option 1:  Narrow the distance of base of support (squats)

Option 2:  Stagger the base of support (lunge)

Option 3:  Stagger AND narrow the base of support (inline lunge)

Option 4:  Partial support (rear foot elevated split squats)

Option 5:  Unsupported Single leg base of support (single leg deadliest or pistol squat)

I know option 4 and 5 are not technically a lunges, but the point was to lay out a nice progression to follow.

Workout Challenge:  How far/long can you lunge walk with 15 lbs (females) or 30lb (males) in each hand?

High Plank Rows (upper body pull)

Rowing while supporting yourself in a high plank position is a humbling experience, particularly for your core muscles.  Dragon flags and toe-to-bar are hyped as being incredible core strength builders, but high plank rows may make you rethink core training altogether.  

Alternate each arm while rowing.  For added challenge, pause the motion when the hand reaches your side, lower slowly.  The body tension needed to perform this drill is incredible.  You’ve got to be rigid from head to heel, front side and back side.  

Workout Challenge:  Perform 20 repetitions of high plank rows on each arm.

Try the workout challenges!  

Most of the challenges require less than 15 minutes of your time, and will be a good eye opener to the possibilities.  The workout challenges can also serve as baseline numbers to assess progress down the road.

The training options are only limited by your creativity.  

Now you can mix and match these 10 exercise to create effective workouts.

How to create a fat loss workout?  

Choose one exercise from each of the following movement patterns:  

  1.  Upper body pull
  2.  Upper body push
  3.  Lower body pull 
  4.  Lower body push
  5.  Total Body or Core Exercise 

Hybrid movements like burpees or thrusters combine several movement patterns into one exercise, compounding the amount of work being performed.  Most people will find hybrid exercises like thrusters to exhaust the body much quicker than if you performed a set of squats and overhead presses on their own.

How many reps per exercise?

Play around with reps.  Vary them high, very them low.  Generally, anywhere from 8-15 reps will provide a good training effect.  

Personally, I prefer keeping the reps on the lower side so I can increase the amount of weight for each exercise.  I have found the training effect to be profound with lower reps and higher loads.

How many rounds?  

Rounds are the cycles through each exercise and reps per exercise.  

Generally speaking, a great workout at the right intensity should go anywhere from 4-8 rounds, rarely more.  

If you’re able to push passed 8 rounds with ease, it’s probably time to increase the weight used or the complexity of the movement.  

How much rest between rounds?

Again, this will vary depending on fitness level.  However, 30-75 seconds is a good target amount of rest between working sets.  As your body adapts to the stress, you’ll find it’s necessary to decrease the rest in order to keep progressing.  

In tough workouts it might not feel like it, but the human body is brilliantly designed to adapt to physical stresses.  

You train and break down, you recover, regenerate and grow.  

Here’s another idea for resting between each round, descending rest periods.  

For example:

Round 1:  Rest 25 seconds

Round 2:  Rest 35 seconds

Round 3:   Rest 45 seconds

Round 4:  Rest 55 seconds

Round 5:  Rest 65 seconds

Round 6:  Rest 75 seconds

Using this rest period structure, you’re challenging yourself harder on the front end of the workout since rest is far shorter but the work remains the same.  As you progress through the rounds, your rest periods lengthen to accommodate the accumulating fatigue.  

Start right now!

Don’t read this and forget about it.  Read it, write it down and do it today or tonight.  

You have everything you need to organize several of these exercises into a workout conducive for burning fat.

Don’t over think it.  Choose exercises for each of exercises, 1-5 above and you’ve just designed a workout to torch fat.

 

Cheers to your workout…

Kyle