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 

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Pistol Squat Progressions For Beginners

Motion

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Pew, pew, pew… pistol squats.

There are few exercises that accomplish more for functional lower body performance than single leg squats, aka “pistol squats’.  They’ve been referred to as the “king of lower body strength training”, and I cannot disagree.  

Here are some key benefits of pistol squat training:

  • Improve single leg performance (strength, balance, stability, etc)
  • Challenge movement complexity beyond regular squats
  • Training body control and coordination
  • Low reps, high reward
  • Mind/body focus
  • Assessment for movement deficits (strength, balance, flexibility, etc)
  • Portable strength (you can do them anywhere)

I’ll expand on each of these benefits in a separate article.  For now, the takeaway is pistol squats are a potent lower body performance enhancer, connect the mind and body to a greater degree, progress body control and coordination, and you can practice them anywhere.  

Symmetry

Building symmetrical strength, balance, and coordination between the right and left sides of the body provides immediate and noticeable benefits to performance in daily life and sport.  Bilateral squats are not bad, but they can mask deficits and encourage compensations.  Your body is extremely good at finding a way to complete exercises by any means necessary, even if the movement is full of compensations. 

For a lot of people, one of the great payoffs in practicing physical fitness is that one moment when you realize a physical task was executed that wasn’t previously possible.  Surprisingly yourself physically is rewarding.

“Oh, I can do that now”.

Unknowingly, many daily tasks are performed on one leg.  Improving one’s ability to perform on one leg makes doing anything on two legs that much more efficient.

Personally, increasing my focus on improving pistol squat performance has saved my lower-back, and served as a door opener to more advanced movement flows.  

More so, single leg training brought to light my own right/left performance deficits.  I won’t say I became a better person once I cleaned up my asymmetries, but my performance saw improvement and nagging irritations went away.  

If you find yourself unable to mirror a range of motion, or lift a similar amount of weight on one side of the body but not the other, it’s worth investigating why these differences exist.  

It could be because of favoritism.  Right/left side favoritism is common.  I have it, you have it, we all have it. Repetitively completing tasks using the same arm or leg can slowly create imbalances, which may or may not manifest into acute or chronic issues down the road.

Examples:  Stepping up or down a ladder with the same leg, using the same arm for heavy lifting or carrying, slinging the work bag over the same shoulder, driving with the same hand on the steering wheel tilted to the same side.

I’m not saying audit your entire life and become a hypochondriac with these things, just be aware favoritism exists.

Though it is important to practice traditional bilateral squats (2-legs), single leg training, even if only using one’s body weight, addresses gaps left unfilled by regular squats.  

Balancing on one leg requires hip stabilizers to wake up and participate.  This is a positive for those who sit for long periods throughout the day. 

Leverage Exercise Progression

For a beginner, a full round of pistol squats may seem unachievable, and only for the “fit”.  This is bullshit.  

The “fit” didn’t enter this world sporting six-packs while ripping out pistol squats, just as the wealthy (typically) haven’t always been wealthy.  The simple truth is your body isn’t acclimated to the mechanics of the pistol squats yet.  Leveraging proper exercise progression and dedicated practice, a full pistol squat is a lot closer than you’d think.

If you’re unable to execute a pistol squat, the simple truth is that your body isn’t acclimated to do so.  It’s a sign you may be lacking strength, flexibility or coordination, all of which can be improved quickly through proper exercise progression and practice.

You’re a lot closer to doing pistol squats than you think.

With proper progression and some tenacity for achievement, the human body adapts to be strength and new patterns quickly.  

The power of progression is why I continue to demonstrate progression roadmaps leading to these “big bang for your buck” exercises.

All 3 of the following exercise progressions can be used regardless if you’ve been squatting with two-legs or using supported single leg squat variations.  Though these exercises are a nice stepping stone, they are not necessary if the exercise is regressed back far enough to be manageable.

Variation #1:  Suspension Trainer Assisted Pistol Squats

Use the suspension trainer to guide your body into and out of the squat.  Grip the handles with intent and use the arms to lessen the intensity as needed.  Slowly ask your legs to do more work as you gain strength.  

3-5 sets of 5-8 reps per leg

Variation #2:  Pinch Grip Assisted Pistol Squats

This pistol squat progression is demonstrated using a squat rack, but a door frame will work just as well.  Grip the rack or doorframe with your fingertips, lower into the squat and back up, assisting as needed.  Slowly soften the grip as you become more efficient.  Move to a 2 or 3 finger pinch grip to increase the challenge.  

3-5 sets of 5-8 reps per leg

Variation #3: Dowel Assisted Pistol Squats

The dowel acts as unstable assistance in this progression.  This unstable assistance provides an introduction to a training effect similar to an unassisted pistol squat.  Maintaining balance throughout the range of motion will have the hip, knee, and core stabilizers working overtime.  

Expect to feel soreness in the days from maintaining balance throughout the work set. 

3 sets of 4-6 reps per leg

All three of these exercises should be used as progressions to a fully unsupported single leg pistol squat.   Keep in mind that each exercise demonstrates a full range of motion.  

Select a progression according to your current fitness level.  Aim to graduate to the next most difficult progression as you gain strength and efficiency. 

If this article was helpful, leave me a comment, or check out others like it.

Next steps?  Get after it.  

Cheers, 

Kyle 

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Animal Flow: Movement Training for Fans of Ido Portal Method

Animal Flow

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“Animal Flow is an innovative fitness program that combines quadrupedal and ground-based movement with element from various bodyweight-training disciplines to create a fun, challenging workout emphasizing multi-planar, fluid movement.”  

If you’ve been hunting for a movement system to deepen your understanding of Ido Portal’s locomotion exercises, Animal Flow is the system to follow.  

Animal Flow’s training methodology embodies the evolution my own fitness practice has experienced over the last several years.  

The “your body is a barbell” is cliché statement, but a true statement about bodyweight training.  Everywhere you go, no matter what the circumstance, bodyweight training is a tool to be leveraged.  

Don’t stop at isolation…

A lot of people stop the bus at basic bodyweight training:  push-ups, pull-ups, squats, lunges, etc.  I have nothing against basic bodyweight training because it’s brutally effective for improving performance, it’s free and it’s arguably the most functional form of resistance training.  

You can live a great life by hammering away on basic bodyweight movements.

However, as I mentioned in my post “Basics of the Ido Portal Method”, a lot of people have an innate desire to explore what’s beyond isolation movements.  

After a while, it’s common to feel like your workouts are being reduced down to numbers (quantified progress):  more reps, more sets, more time, etc. 

There’s nothing wrong with quantified progress.  Quantifying your workouts practice is a great way to measure improvement or stagnation.  Scanning your numbers can help you evaluate if your current training plan working the way it should.  

It’s not much different than following a recipe in the kitchen.

But there is another realm, one where you’re moving without being restricted to reps and sets and time.  

This realm explores your body’s movement capacity through space.  

Twisting, turning, reaching, pulling, pushing, shifting, transitioning, flowing.

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Some of these body positions are common and familiar, some are not.  Training uncomfortable positions is important to prepare the body for unpredictable scenarios.

Movement capacity development.  

 

Ground-based movement training benefits ANYONE and EVERYONE.  Why?  Because it is life played out through the movement lens.  Everywhere you go, your body is right there with you.  

Enter: Animal Flow…

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  • Anything in BLACK is information from the Animal Flow website.  
  • Comments in RED are my interpretation and elaboration on those points.  

What comprises the Animal Flow program?

“Animal Flow includes a wide range of exercises and movement combinations that are grouped into six components, each designed to elicit specific results. The six components can be mixed and matched in many ways, and you can incorporate one, some, or all of them in your workouts! The six components include:

Wrist Mobilizations

Wrist Mobilizations include a range of simple exercises designed to increase the flexibility and strength of your wrists, which is particularly important for any practice where you are spending a lot of time on your hands.”

– Although most of human life is spent either sitting or standing, training the hands/wrists/arms to tolerate a more robust range of motion and loading stress in various positions is important.  

Our wrists and arms aren’t designed to hang at our sides or flexed up on a keyboard for all day every day.  Hanging, brachiation, crawling, climbing are all activities humans should be able to do.  

More specific to the Animal Flow program, wrist preparation ensures your body is prepared to handle the load stress.

Activations

Activations are static holds we perform to connect the body before we start our practice. Examples include Static Beast Hold, Static Crab Hold, and Limb Lifts.”

– Activating dormant muscles is helps protect our bodies against acute injury and chronic aches and pains.  It boosts our ability to accomplish common daily tasks efficiently.

This is sometimes referred to as “pre-hab”.  Again, cliché, but important.

It’s not necessary to suffer an injury to begin paying attention to muscle activation.  Basic maintenance can keep a person functioning on a high level without pain or risk of injury. 

Imagine how much better a squat would be if your glute muscles knew they were supposed to participate in the exercise.

Isolated activation exercises remind these muscles they’ve got an active role in the exercise to come.

Form Specific Stretches

Form Specific Stretches are full body stretches that start in an animal form and then move through a wide range of motion. This increases your mobility and flexibility throughout the entire body. Examples include the Ape Reach, Beast Reach, Crab Reach and Scorpion Reach.”

Stretching is not dead, so don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Mis-directed, poorly performed stretches are dead.  Stretching areas that don’t need to be stretched is dead.  

Smart, intelligent stretching in combination with passive and active mobilization techniques are a smarter way to achieve a more functional range of motion.  Hello, KinStretch.

Traveling Forms

Traveling Forms are exercises that mimic the movements of animals. You’ll start with the “ABCs” – Ape, Beast, and Crab – to get you going on these full body conditioning moves. The traveling forms are essentially how we move like animals to improve the function of the human animal.”

 

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The human body is designed to navigate many different forms movement.

The ability to handle your body while performing uncommon movement tasks (example: crawling) beyond standing and walking will serve you well across life.  It gives quality to your years.    

Crawling (and the many variations of crawling) is a major component of Traveling Forms.  Yes, this is a similar crawling we do as infants.  Funny how we regress back to our earliest forms of movement as a reset later in life.

Crawling is an under-estimated, challenging form of movement that trains the body to handle unique body positions, transitions, upper extremity loading and core activation.  

The other, a less scientific reason to crawl, is it’s fun.  Plain and simple.  Crawling is an uncommon activity that is fun.  Life’s too short to not have fun.  

Fact:  a person is more apt to stick to training if there is fun involved.  Prove me wrong.

Switches and Transitions

Switches and Transitions are dynamic movements that we perform one after the other, creating the “flow” of Animal Flow. You can transfer from one form to another, or repeat the same one as a drill. Examples include the many variations for Underswitches, Side Kickthroughs, Front Kickthroughs, and Scorpions.”

– Combining 2-3 exercises is a great way to create a training effect beyond what’s possible by practicing only one drill in isolation.

Transitioning from crawling, to kick throughs into hollow-body rocks will challenge your body to adapt to several different patterns and planes of movement and muscular stress.

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Here’s an example:  Animal Flow Workout – Long Cycle Ground Based Movement 

These sequences can be practiced for extended periods of time to increase the demand on endurance and cardio.

A workout becomes an experience at this stage.  Switches and transitions is where people begin noticing they’re having fun. 

Flow

Flow: Your Flow is where the real magic happens. You’ll combine the Animal Flow moves by linking them together in a fluid sequence, seamlessly transferring energy from one move to the next. Flows may be a choreographed sequence practiced over multiple sessions, or may be created freestyle!”

No secrets here, it will take dedicated practice and patience to arrive at the “flow” stage.  Those who stick to the plan will make the gains needed to begin moving freely, improvising each movement as you go.  

Like words making a sentence, exercises stitch themselves together, “flowing”. 

In sync, the mind and body connection is extremely powerful.  Flow a physical demonstration of a mind that is free.

Bringing it home…

A balanced approach of traditional resistance training, gymnastics, and ground-based exercises can make a person dangerous.  Each philosophy improves the others.

If you’re a fan of Ido Portal’s methodology, Animal Flow is a logical training system to look into.  

Ido hasn’t produced a product for the masses yet, and I suspect he will never release a product.  

The current options to train under the Ido Portal Method are private online training or attendance of a seminar.  Not ideal and both cost a small fortune. Ido is in high demand right now.  

You could always cherry-pick drills from YouTube videos (as I have done), but you’ll never progress as quickly as if you were following a system.  

Training systems are designed with an end goal:  results.

If you’re interested in expanding your movement capacity, check out: Animal Flow 2.0

 

Cheers to discovering your movement capacity, 

Kyle 

 

 

 

 

 

Does Being Fit Make You Harder to Kill?

Quick Tips

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

Whatever gets you going though, right?

 

 

 

Kyle

Basics of The Ido Portal Training Method

Ido Portal

 

Ido Portal

{Photo Credit:  www.idoportal.com}

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

[I do not speak for Ido Portal in any way.  Ido is a man with his own original thoughts and ideas.  Anything I write or discuss on this blog is my interpretation of information he’s published on his social media page, his old blog, Youtube interviews and various other sources.]

My background…

I have a deep background in strength and conditioning.  It’s traditional in every sense of the word.  Probably too traditional in fact.  It’s taken years to drop my guard on these traditional ways and open up to other movement training philosophies.  Old habits truly die hard.  

From the moment I bumped into Ido’s work, I knew something was different about his philosophies.  The Ido Portal Method seemed to be an open platform, subject to change, subject to revision if there was a better way.  The movement standards were much higher than anything else I’d read about before.

Since my initial exposure, I’ve begun the slow process of digesting Ido’s information,  integrating many of his beginner movement drills into my own workouts.  The shift in my movement I.Q. has been profound (in a good way), despite not committing 100% to his programming.  

I’ve also played around with my own variations of his famous Lizard Crawl…IMG_4167 

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

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

Ido Portal Training Methodology…

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

Isolation—>  Integration—> Improvisation

Step 1:  Isolation

Step 2:  Integration

Step 3: Improvisation

However, of what I currently comprehend about Ido’s training philosophies, the transition from isolation to integration to improvisation serves as the fundamental backbone of the movement system.

It’s a higher standard and a logical progression.  Here is how each section can be described further…

Isolation

Isolation based movement for Ido Portal is what’s being taught by most traditional personal trainers and strength and conditioning coaches, although this is slowly shifting.  Squats, deadlifts, chin-ups, pull-ups, glute ham raises, unilateral training (single arm push ups, pistol squats, etc) rows, planks, crawling, hip hinging etc… are all considered isolation exercises.

Bicep curls, triceps push-downs, “skull crushers” and crunches are seemingly child’s play.  Good luck spotting them anywhere in the Ido Portal Method catalog of exercises/drills.  

Use the right tool for the job of course, but I haven’t seen a single machine based exercise in his programming.

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

Grey Cook’s life’s work is centered around establishing better movement patterns.  Better squat patterns, lunge patterns, rotational core stability patterns, etc.  The Functional Movement Screen is a fantastic movement screening system, but it’s incredibly fixated on isolation movements.  Anyways, elaboration on movement patterns will have to wait for another article.  

The lightbulb moment and humbling part for me initially was the lowest rung of Ido’s movement classification system represents what are commonly viewed as the highest rung of the ladder for most anyone else.  This is a positive shift for the health industry.

The Ido Portal Method makes stopping number based training (adding more weight, doing more reps, finishing the same amount of work faster, etc) look mediocre and complacent.  

Once you know, you cannot unknow.  That’s how I feel at the moment.  To each their own of course, but it’s important to understand that training methods like this exist.  Methods that are highly effective and systematically achievable through proper guided progression.  

Your relationship with your physical practice might be different than mine, which is fine, let’s honor and celebrate this uniqueness.  That being said, I feel a curiosity, maybe more of a duty to explore the outer fringes of my own movement capacity.  

Ido has swept the dust off this sort of thinking and deserves credit for spearheading the movement.

Integration

Integration is the where we begin to form sentences from the words (isolation).  A squat is no longer just a squat.  The squat is a movement pattern that flows into other movement patterns, or maybe a series of movement patterns.  There is a heavy capoeira influence in Ido’s teachings, no doubt about it.  

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

I might sound like a psychotic fan, but this stuff is a revolutionary paradigm shift in fitness.  Something  I believe the world will slowly beginning warm up to.

Nike has…

Ido Portal Nike

Ido often refers to himself as a “mover”, thus the name of his crazy expensive yet popular and consistently sold out training camps, “MovementX”.

It’s been said a picture is worth a thousand words, maybe this video is worth a million.  Another example of integration…

Integration builds on the physical preparation from isolation training.  Inside of the integration portion of Ido’s training philosophy is pre-planned movement sequences.  Think about a dancer that has a choreographed dance routine.  It’s still a very difficult routine, but it’s planned, you know what’s coming next.  

I’ve probably watched the above “Locomotion Research” video 50+ times and it never seems to get old watching someone move like water.  All of the movement sequences shown in the video are difficult, especially if you think you’re just going to throw on your running shoes, drop down and flow it out as a party trick.  Not happening.

You’ll be humbled by the amount of integrated mobility, stability, and strength needed to complete the moves.  It’s 3-Dimensional movement requiring a level of proprioception, range of motion and muscular firing most people have never experienced.  

Improvisation…

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

Dominating isolation helps the transition to integration.  With hours of practice, one will arrive at the final progression of Ido’s movement philosophy… improvisation.

World-class gymnasts (pound for pound the strongest people on the planet) aren’t expressing improvised movement during their competition routines.  It’s all been practiced and choreographed prior.  I’m not trying to take anything away from gymnasts (because they represent the top 1%), I am just bringing to light the fact that they are executing routines that have been practiced hundreds, if not thousands of times before it’s viewed by the public eye.

Regarding improvisational movement, Ido has mentioned several times he thinks there is a dimension to be explored beyond it.  

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

Bringing it home…

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

Traditional physical fitness methods aren’t going anywhere soon, nor should they.  

If isolation represents the foundation on which higher levels of movement are built, we still need to be encouraging the execution these basics of isolation.  There is still a place for technique driven power, strength, stability, and mobility based exercises/drills.

A stronger, more stable, more mobile, more resilient human is an improved human.  

Since this initial evaluation of Ido Portal’s training methodology, the fans are still waiting for published work from Ido.  Unfortunately, nothing yet.  

But, there are other movement programs to explore, which will bring you very close Ido’s teachings.

After sifting through dozens, I now promote only 1 other movement training program for building up locomotion patterns: Animal Flow.

Animal Flow: Isolation, Integration, and Improvisation

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Animal Flow is a brilliant ground-based bodyweight training system that teaches many of the elements you’ll find inside The Ido Portal Method.  Particularly the locomotion patterns.  

* Of course, Animal Flow is not Ido Portal Method.  

That being said, the animal influenced locomotion exercises found in Animal Flow is very similar to what Ido Portal is teaching at the base level.  

Ground-based, body weight locomotion drills. 

[Another thing… and this isn’t a jab at Ido by any means, but he didn’t invent his training methodology from scratch.  The Ido Portal Method is a melting pot of the best movement ideas from around the world, combined and refined into a system.  Even the documentary “Just Move” talks about Ido traveling the world to learn from the best in different movement sectors.  He is a brilliant mind made up of a collection of movement ideas.]  

So, if you’re new to movement training, Animal Flow is an ideal place to start.  The Ido Portal Method, as great as it is, hasn’t produced a training program for the masses to practice.  You could train in private with Ido, if you’ve got $2000+ to fork over.  The fact is there are GREAT programs teaching similar ideas for a fraction of the cost.  

As Ido commented in his recent movie premiere, very little of what he’s teaching is new.  It’s merely absorbing, improving and integrating ideas from pre-existing movement disciplines found across the globe.  

Much like The Ido Portal Method, movements are initially practiced in isolation and later strung together to create movement sequences and flows.  The tempo of workouts can be adjusted to create a cardio-strength type training effect or a dynamic yoga-like experience. 

I stumbled onto Animal Flow not long after finding The Ido Portal Method.  I was initially drawn to Animal Flow because how well it was structured.  It’s completely turn-key, loaded with progressions and regressions.    

Most of all, it represented a vehicle to help me gain an understanding of the value of body weight ground-based training.   

Mike Fitch (creator) also peaked my interest as his movement capacity is world-class.  

Over the past few months, I’ve cherry-picked basic exercises and movement sequences from Animal Flow and worked them hard.  Exercises like Beast, Crab, and Scorpions are now a part of every workout, serving as either a warm-up or as the workout itself.


The first few sessions sucked, mainly rotational transitions.  My spine was stiff as hell from years of “bracing”, “rigid neutral spine”, stability training, etc.  However, it is amazing how quickly the body adapts to what is consistently practiced.  Spinal flexibility is improving every single day. 

The confidence in my movement has increased 10-fold as my body understands previously unfamiliar positions and locomotion drills.  

If you have even an ounce of interest in the buzz surrounding Ido Portal’s work, Animal Flow is worth an evaluation as a convenient, train anywhere, cost-effective alternative. 

Here is a link to the Animal Flow website.

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If you’ve enjoyed the material here, make sure you check out other M(eaux)tion content:

 

 

Cheers to the Basics of The Ido Portal Training Method…

KG

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

Quick Tips

I’m an inspirational video junkie.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And on and on…

Here are a few other make your bed scenarios…

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

– “Have you made your bed?”

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

– “Have you made your bed?”

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

– “Have you made your bed?”

What’s the main idea here?

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Cheers to making your bed…

Kyle

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

Quick Tips

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Decisions, decisions, decisions

This might be the single most important thought I ever post on this blog.  Seriously.

I really should make this my new landing page for anyone stopping by for the first time.

It’s that important in my opinion.

Decision fatigue refers to the idea that people make worse decisions after having made a lot of decisions.

Limiting decision fatigue can catapult your fitness success.  It will streamline your workouts and relieve the anxiety of your workout choices.  It starts from the moment that you decide to rid yourself of all of the minutiae.

If you’re not familiar with the concept of decision fatigue, try this exerciseDrive to your local gym, walk to the middle of the building and stop once you feel like you are dead center in the gym.

Now, do a slow 360 degree spin, making sure to take in all of the equipment, classes, posters, tv’s, etc.  Take note of the vast amount of options that the gym has so graciously offered you in exchange for your monthly membership fee.

Now, take note of how overwhelming the number of options truly are.

Assume for a second that you walked into that gym with a limited knowledge on exercise, with no notes and no workout plan in hand.  Assume that you walked in just to improvise your workout for the day.

My question is this… Assuming that you’re not yet an expert in effective exercise, how in the hell are you supposed to make steady progress toward your goals (which are commonly weight loss, fat loss or lean muscle gain)?

How?

How are you supposed to make any lasting progress what so ever?  One great workout is not going to create change.  A series a great workout spread out across months and years is going to solidify your results, paying dividends on your physical efforts.

There is a niche machine or gadget for everything in that gym, and in my personal opinion, over 80-85% of them are not worth your time.  Yes, if you’re an able bodied person, put the blinders on to over 80-85% of the strength machines, ellipticals, treadmills and the like.

Just to take the heat off of the geriatric resistance machines and the hamster wheels, the equipment that I promote the most doesn’t help the situation much more.

Medicine balls, resistance bands, dumbbells, power wheels, kettlebells, barbells, sandbags, weight vests, suspension trainers, bodyweight specific movements, sleds, jump ropes, battling ropes, climbing ropes, plyo boxes, and on and on and on.  This is all equipment that I highly endorse, but there is an overwhelming number of options.  Where does it all fit?

I know how to design a program using this equipment, but it is insane to think that the average Joe or Jane, who is focusing their attention on building a career outside of fitness, should know how to incorporate all of this equipment.

You can experience this same sense of “decision fatigue” when you walk onto a dealership to shop for a car, peruse a website to compare digital cameras or enter a grocery store to purchase grocery items for the week.

Decision Fatigue

Grocery store decision fatigue.

The grocery store might be the best immediate example of how draining decision fatigue can be. There are tens of thousands of products in a grocery store, and probably less than 200 that are ideal for human consumption, assuming you are mindful of your health.  I recently read a marketing article stating that grocery stores put candy and other junk food next to the checkouts because by that point in the shopping experience, people are weakest.  If they are going to make a impulse buy, it’s going to be in the check out line because they have the perception that once they are done checking out, the opportunity to have that package of delightful candy is no longer.

Decision fatigue.  I don’t know why it took me so long to make the connection between decision fatigue and achieving body transformation/performance.

I have often stressed about paying attention to the details of your workouts, nutrition and recovery tactics, but now I have to admit that I believe that limiting the onset of decision fatigue might be the key to high level fitness results and reduced anxiety.

Off of the cuff, I have a couple of suggestions that can help relieve decision fatigue:

1)  Have Your Workout for the Day in Your Hands!

Unless you’ve had experience designing strength and conditioning programs, don’t wait until you arrive to the gym and “wing it”.  It’s a complete waste of time to sit down and brainstorm a workout once you arrive.  Have your plan in hand so that when you arrive you can immediately get to work, then get out.  Do not, for any reason, head to the gym expecting to make progress if you don’t know exactly what workout entails for that day.  Would you drive to a far off, highly populated unknown destination without a map?  Probably not.  So don’t put yourself at risk by showing up to the gym without some idea of what is about to take place.

Also, have an idea of what you accomplished in the previous workouts and a decent idea of what you hope to accomplish in the future workouts.  Keep measuring where you came from, where you are and where you are going.

Side-note:  I am convinced that the likelihood of a person to buy poor quality food in the grocery store because they didn’t make a shopping list is increased exponentially.  No list + no plan = poor choices. Decision fatigue beats you down until you have little to no willpower.

2)  Choose between 1-3 pieces of equipment.

The best workouts I have ever had usually involve no more than 3 different pieces of fitness equipment.  Weight can only come in so many forms, and to be honest, weight is weight.  The earth’s gravitational pull has established what things are going to weigh, so keeping that in mind, weight is pretty much weight.  The design of the grip points and the location of center of mass might vary between equipment.  Think kettlebells versus dumbbells here.

I choose “iron” when it comes to weight.  “Iron”, meaning dumbbells, barbells and kettlebells (cast iron).  You cannot go wrong with this type of equipment.  Using less equipment is great for acclimating yourself to that style of equipment.  Jumping around from innovation to innovation without working to master the basic (time tested) equipment teaches you nothing over the long-haul.

As I mentioned above, you have to measure your progress.  If you lift the same 100lbs on the barbell squat all year long, you’re not going to get anything out of it.  Your body will adapt quickly and then progress will flatline.  But, if you add weight in small increments, you’re going to get a hell of a lot stronger and your body will change in the process.  Staying consistent with that barbell squat will allow you to measure your progress over time.

Choose less and you’ll receive more.  Decision fatigue will entice you to touch everything in the gym for that “total body workout”.  Total body workouts are accomplished through movement patterns, not equipment.

3)  Choose less exercises.

Half reps, whole reps, tempo, single leg, double leg, off-center loading, overhead, goblet, racked, alternating grip, neutral grip, blah blah blah.  There are so many options it makes me sick.  “Options”, keeps fitness magazines profitable.

First off… squats, deadlifts, pull ups, chin ups, push ups, row variations, lunges, and a select few core specific exercises should make up the bulk of your training.  Choose an upper body movement and pair it with a lower body movement.  Sprinkle on a core drill after the second exercise in the tri-set, or address flexibility issues during your rest period.  Add a realistic amount weight that challenges your muscles and joints, lift it up and down a few times, set it down, rest, rinse and repeat.

Leverage the basics to the fullest and you’ll end up getting great results on your investment.

An example of a complete resistance training workout might look like this:

Tri-Set #1

A1)  Squat

A2)  Chin Up

Core)  Ab Wheel Roll Outs

Tri-Set #2

B1)  Lunge

B2)  Inverted Row

Core)  Lateral Plank

9 out of 10 people will see dramatic results from a workout designed with the format above.  Executed 2-3 times per week with adequate rest in between each session and a steady progressive loading plan, now you’re getting somewhere.  Drink some water, eat protein and veggies, get adequate sleep and you’re going to enhance the gym work.

It’s almost disheartening reading statements like that isn’t it?  I think our brains desperately want us to believe that there is something complex, some secret, some hidden element missing from our training efforts.  We subconscious crave the complicated and complex versus accepting and leveraging the simple tactics.

I didn’t believe in simplicity much when I went deeper into strength and conditioning rabbit hole some years ago.  I thought we needed more exercises, fatigue, fancy gadgets and variability all of the time.

It’s not true.  Simple is better.  Simple is better for the beginner population and simple can be a much needed element for the advanced population that has gotten sidetracked from information overload.

Our days are chock full of decisions.  Use your mental strength to make decisions about life, career and what is best for yourself and your family, not your workouts.  If you’re forced to workout in the evening, chances are quite high that you’ve been beaten down by the amount of decisions that you’ve had to make throughout that day.  More decisions is not what the doctored ordered.

Find a simplified and streamlined plan and execute like a savage.

Cheers to limiting decision fatigue and leveraging simplicity in your workouts!

KG

Precision nutrition logo

*** The same can be done with nutrition.  Find out how to limit decision fatigue with your eating here***

The Howard Stern Diet

Quick Tips

Howard Stern Radio Logo

Howard Stern, on the radio is an entertainer. He knows how to attract listeners and boost ratings. Howard’s craziness on the radio often overshadows his intelligence, career success, and real world insight.

Lately, most of my driving has been accompanied by Howard Stern streaming through the airwaves.

If you don’t like Stern, I apologize. Keep in mind, he’s an entertainer. What you hear on the radio is not the REAL Howard Stern.

The Stern Show is ridiculously entertaining. His no bullshit unfiltered and uncensored interviews to world-famous people are second to none, mainly because of the Sirius censor-free platform.

For the last 4 years, I’ve renewed my Sirius subscription without batting an eyelash.

Howard is has mastered his craft, radio. Detailing it further, he’s a master of entertainment and communication. It’s got to be difficult to do.

One aspect of the Howard Stern show that’s fascinating is how frequently he talks about his personal life, more specifically his ongoing battle with nutrition and fitness.

It’s comical, but it’s reality.

The other day, I turned on the radio to catch him ripping apart one of his staffers, Benji Bronk. Benji is a long-time writer and content creator for the Stern show who’s famous for his clever public pranks and funny radio bits. Benji is an absolute character.

If you know the Stern Show at all, you know the staff feuding is as entertaining as the celebrity interviews.

In the radio bit, Benji told Howard that he’s depriving himself of eating in order to drop weight. Leveraging the old calories in versus calories out equation.

As is common with a lot of people, Benji lost focus with healthy habits. He had gained an unnecessary large amount of weight and now wants it gone ASAP.

Howard’s conversation with Benji evolved into a hardcore lashing of Benji’s extreme strategy.

Overall, I have to say that Howard didn’t miss the mark by much with his advice, which was…

  1. Find a mentor who understands nutrition and eat what they eat.
  2. Avoid the extreme in favor of simple, work into it, increase the intensity.
  3. Identify a health strategy he enjoys and can stick to over time.

One might read this and think, “duh”.

But common sense is not so common.

Humans overcomplicate and overanalyze EVERYTHING.

What makes perfect sense to you doesn’t make perfect sense to everyone else.

The perfect health plan doesn’t exist, so if you fall into the category of a person who’s constantly searching for the “truth”, call off the search.

We live in the age of computer, tablets and cell phones, all connected to the internet moving at break neck speed. Information is literally everywhere. It’s difficult to find focus on just one thing, especially if you’re desperate to lose weight.

There are so many strategies, it’s overwhelming for a lot of people.

Let’s briefly touch on why I valued Howard’s health advice to Benji…

#1. Role models are important.

Someone, somewhere, has already done what you are attempting to do, so why not learn from them?

Regarding the best approach to health, get around people that are already on the healthy path. Do what they do. Spending time with people who are not making health oriented decisions is going to send you in the same trajectory. YOU BECOME WHO YOU SPEND THE MOST TIME WITH.

Start teaming up with people in the gym who are getting after, and understand how to get after it. If they are a decent human being, they will take you under their wing and stretch your comfort zone. Eat as many meals with people who understand what simple clean eating is.

Learn from what they do. Study their habits, emulate those habits. Are they bringing healthy leftovers from last nights dinner in a Tupperware versus scrambling to the local fast food establishment for a burger and fries? Follow that lead.

One of the first steps to making incredible gains in fitness and nutrition is becoming aware. Once you know, you cannot un-know.

Role models can help guide you along the way.

#2. Begin with the long-term in mind.

If you want to put the pedal to the metal right out of the gates, go for it. It’s your life. But beware that many people fade with this approach.

It’s mentally draining to adopt healthier habits.

Health is a process. It takes time and it requires discipline. You have to trust the plan and stick to the plan.

Fast gains can be made, but there is no overnight success and there shouldn’t be.

Celebrate your efforts in the short-term, but understand that the real victory is in dedication the long-term.

Begin with the end in mind.

#3. Make an effort and enjoy it.

If you hate your workout program and your eating plan, it wil never last.

You will burnout. The resistance crush any will-power you have.

There is a happy-medium between making an effort and finding enjoyment in the efforts being made. Where those two intersect is where results reside.

But here’s another reality. Making a shift from sloppy eating habits and a sedentary lifestyle over to smart nutrition and daily workouts are going to be stressful in the beginning. It’s work, and it’s not always easy.

You can expect many days where the last thing you want to do is eat a salad, especially when everyone else is smashing a greasy burger. You can expect days where getting up an hour earlier to get a workout in before starting the day is the last thing you want to do, especially when other people are sleeping in.

There is great (perceived) pain in building healthy habits. It is a lot easier to ignore the details and be careless. But, doing so has a price.

So, in the beginning, find foods that fall into the realm of being nutritious. Eat them. If you don’t know what foods are nutrient dense, Google it. Seriously. Type in “healthy foods” and you’ll find millions of search results. Find a list, go to the grocery store and familiarize yourself with those foods, regularly.

As you gain confidence, expand. Find other foods that serve your health well.

Same goes for fitness. Don’t jump into a hardcore metabolic conditioning workout on the first day. Opt for yoga, a long walk or some simple body weight drills like Animal Flow.

Animal Flow is an ideal fitness program for beginners since it’s body weight based. Plus, you can learn how to exercise effectively in the privacy of your own home.

Crawling is a low-impact highly effective activity to build strength, motor control, and core stability.  Can you do this?  I bet you can.

Bodyweight training is ideal for everyone, particularly beginners because you can get your training in ANYWHERE. Stop thinking, buy the Animal Flow DVD and get going.

Mike Fitch, the creator of the program will teach you everything you need to know.

If you’re not there yet, at least subscribe to my YouTube channel. Watch me do it, then you do it. Simple.

Less thinking, more doing.

Not into Animal Flow? Fine. No matter what you choose, remember that YOU HAVE TO MAKE AN EFFORT. You have to.

The effort given will be proportionate to the reward, nothing more and nothing less.

So what does Howard Stern’s Diet consist of?

Plain and simple, Howard is a mono-eater, just like many other lean and healthy people I know. No surprise here. A lot of times, people who have a good grasp on healthy habits aren’t preparing extravagant meals like you see on the Food Channel or various social media platforms.

Howard knows the foods he likes and he eats those foods on a regular rotation. A lot of healthy people do this. It removes the decision fatigue from the situation.

Here’s a snapshot of a day in the life of the Howard Stern diet:

  • Breakfast- Egg Whites, half piece of toast and fruit
  • Lunch- Salmon with 1/4 baked potato and veggies
  • Mid-afternoon snack- Apple
  • Dinner- Eat out or at home (protein with veggies/fruit)

He keeps it simple. I can appreciate that.

If I could change one thing about Howard’s daily eating, I would add more protein. I would also encourage him to eat the yokes in the eggs. There is so much nutrition in egg yokes!

I’d also be curious to see if he’s consuming enough calories. Based on the example above, it seems like he’s a contestant on the TV show Survivor.

On the fitness side of things, I would encourage Howard to limit the long, slow distance cardio training. In general, adults need more resistance training to preserve or build lean muscle mass.

Nothing crazy here… just simple and effective exercises like squats, lunges, push-ups, pull-ups and chin-ups, body rows, etc. People underestimate how effective a couple of rounds of simple bodyweight exercises can be.

Ground-based movements like you’d find in Animal Flow are also making giant waves fitness. Crawling, locomotion exercises various dynamic core drills, mobility training, etc… are all incredibly effective for burning fat, building lean muscle and re-establishing movement capacity. Again, this is all stuff you can find in the Animal Flow DVD.

Now, if you’re interested in leveraging the power of nutrition, I am going to direct to Brad Pilon and his intermittent fasting program, EAT STOP EAT.

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Brad is one of the smartest nutrition coaches in the world, and EAT STOP EAT is a perfect example of a massive shift in our understanding and approach to healthy diets. In fact, he refers to it as a “pattern of eating”, rather than a diet.

What we now know about highly effective eating, is that it’s not only about the foods you’re eating (or not eating) but it is also about the timing of eating food.

Intermittent fasting is not nearly as torturous as it sounds, so I encourage you to check it out.

The food you’re eating should give you a metabolic advantage to stay lean and healthy, no matter what your age or body type.

If you’re constantly stressing over counting calories, it’s worth auditing your food choices. Sometimes, I feel that calorie counting is what the modern generation does to manage the negative effects of eating food we know to be bad for our bodies.

Howard turned 60 years old this year. He often comments his body has never looked or felt better since he started focusing on leveraging smarter nutritional strategies.

Nutrition and fitness are never a bad investment, and it’s a lot more simple than you’d think.

The biggest secret is getting started and building steadily on that momentum, day by day.  

 

Cheers to the Howard Stern Diet…

KG

Look! Movement is the Benefit :)

Quick Tips

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Non-traditional movement has been the name of the game lately.

Pure ground based locomotion and flow.

It’s not that I don’t have time for more mainstream forms of movement, because I believe in that also,  but I am becoming increasingly intrigued with other methods of movement training.  I almost used the term “time-tested” instead of mainstream.  It might have been a better description, but admittedly, 95% of my personal workout habits and the habits which I recommend to others seeking movement regimens are in fact, mainstream.

A simple blend of squats, lunges, hip dominant hinging, upper body pushing and pulling in a vertical and horizontal fashion will set you up for success.  Add in some chops and lifts and you have got yourself a damn good routine.  It’s all in how you organize it and tweak the variables to best fit your goals.

A squat is a squat, but with a few tweaks here and there, you can make the squat conducive to building a number of different human physical qualities (strength, endurance, power, etc), all completely different from each other.

Always remember, in the beginning… establish mobility, establish stability in that new-found range of motion, then begin the process of building strength.

It’s a layering effect.

This is a recipe that works every single time for the person that is willing to be diligent in their training efforts.

Are you that person?

Because here is the reality:  Movement works every single time.  100% effective.  It’s people that fall short.

Movement works.  People don’t do the work.  Shame on us.

Over the past few weeks, I have progressively integrated more and more Ido-style movements into my pre-work training block.  Maybe I shouldn’t refer to these movements as “Ido-invented” (after watching some of his videos he probably would deny they are his but were there from the beginning of time), but he was one of the first (and still the best that I’ve seen) to make sense of less mainstream forms of movement.

He is a mover, in every sense of the word.

From one-arm hand stands and other hand balancing, single arm chin ups, planches and twice bodyweight back squats, Ido can move with flow and move load if necessary.

Planche training

Planche

I keep referring to Ido’s teachings as “movement”, and that’s because it is.  He neither specializes nor generalizes.

I guess I never really stopped and thought about it, but most of what is published and preached today is purely about fitness.  Even Yoga, with it’s cult like following, doesn’t necessarily make a person MOVE better.  It might help a person increase flexibility and improve range of motion, but it doesn’t guarantee that you will move better.

You have to practice movement to improve your ability to move.

Now, I will say that I don’t necessarily believe that the mere act of practicing movement is going to grant you access to better movement.  It may open a few doors to becoming a better mover, but I also think that each person needs to be real with themselves and their own situation.  Some folks have got some real compensations, imbalances and dysfunction going on.  Who knows where or how these issues manifested themselves (a lot are from sitting too long) but they are there, so it may be completely necessary to address these movement restrictions before you’ll ever be a great mover, or even an average mover.

The Functional Movement Screen is a great system for evaluating yourself, and your ability to move.  Why?  Because it is systematic.  You grade your movement quality, and lesser quality scores in any given movement pattern has a roadmap of corrective drills that you can use to clean up that movement pattern.  In essence, you can correct faulty movement rather quickly.

Realistically, you can perform a poor man’s movement screen at home on yourself.  It will always be better to have a knowledgeable FMS certified trainer evaluate you, but hey, we can DIY.

Use a big mirror or better yet film yourself performing the tests from the movement screen.  Don’t feel dumb filming, you can delete it immediately.  The filming of your movement capabilities is extremely valuable.  What you “think” you’re doing isn’t always what you actually doing movement-wise.

Take your video and compare it to some perfect screens (which you can easily find on YouTube) and take note of the differences.  Most people will notice that their overhead squat is a lacking, rotational stability nearly impossible to complete and the inline lunge makes you feel like you’re balancing on a tight rope.

Cleaning up these patterns will make you a better mover, and probably decrease the likelihood that your dysfunction manifests itself into an injury.

However, cleaning up the screen doesn’t mean that you’ll all of the sudden be a great mover.  You have to practice moving to be a great mover.  Are you sick of me saying move?  Mover?  Movement yet?  Sit tight I’ll drop those terms a bunch more in the coming paragraphs.

In many cases, I have substituted ground based crawling variations (supine and prone) and walks in  place of my go-to dynamic warm up.  I haven’t felt like I am sacrificing anything by doing so.  My joints still move through a full range of motion and my muscles are activated in a low-impact fashion.  I would even argue that my time is being maximized by practicing my movement flow using Ido’s training drills versus my standard cookie cutter warm up.

I’ve actually exited many of these warm-ups in a pool of sweat, even before beginning what I would consider to be the “work” portion of my session.  Interesting.

I’ve quickly found that I am ridiculously weak in certain positions, uncoordinated and all around uncomfortable as I work in some of the Ido Portal warm-up drills and ground based training.  It’s an ego check for sure, especially since he refers to many of these flow-like drills as being “beginner”.  Ha!  Soreness has also been a product of the unfamiliar movements, although it’s never a goal.  Unfamiliar movements almost always produce soreness because your body hasn’t experienced it yet.

I am reminded – as I continue to force myself to become more vulnerable by the day with Ido’s training idealogy- of how a newbie to the workout scene feels at first.  It’s an emotional uppercut showing up to a personal training session or a group class (even training by yourself behind closed doors) knowing that you’re going to struggle to complete what is being asked of you.

But the key is to keep coming back.  Keep grinding.  Keep learning.  Realize that it’s a process, just like everything else.  And as a process, you’ve got to work at it, consistently and in a focused manner.  Leave your feelings at the door and work.

We’ve become detached from our bodies and desensitized to our physical abilities.  In fact, many of us no longer have a relationship with our body, and our physical abilities.  Things that we could easily do as kids are now foreign and seemingly impossible.  But all of that can be regained.

One major takeaway from the my small bit of reading Ido’s work is this:  We’ve got to establish a lifelong relationship with our movement.  Every one of us.  We will all start at different points and need different adjustments along the way- and this makes sense because we are all individually unique- but you’ve got to make sure that you start and find a way to make it stick.

Enjoy the challenge of learning new physical skills.  Embrace the frustrations and work out the solutions on your own.  If you find yourself stuck, hop on the computer or tablet and search out a solution.  The internet is packed with incredible free information that can get you where you need to go.

I suck at many of Ido’s locomotion drills right now.  I’ll admit that.  I filmed myself and I look stiff and the opposite of gracefully.  But that will change with time and practice.  It’s frustrating to know that I am practicing something that I am not good at (yet).

I think many people may find that they actually like dedicated workouts more when you a aiming to develop a certain movement skill.  Pursuing skills transforms a person’s daily workouts into a journey instead of a dreaded 60 minutes of robotic physical activity that we feel we need to participate in to chase the idea of “fitness”.

A movement journey may not have an end point.  But that is the beauty of it.  You achieve a goal and begin planning and preparation for the next goal.  One day you look back and realize that over the course of time you hopped over barriers that you never imagined you would hurdle.  That’s an incredible feeling to evaluate significant forward progress, especially when looking at where you started.

People often ask me what the benefit of an exercise is, or which exercises will best target a specific area of the body…

For a long time I couldn’t find the exact words to answer this question in a way that felt true to myself… but try this one out because I think this might be where I stand…

Ido Portal Movement

 

 

Cheers to getting uncomfortable in your movement endeavors…

 

KG

What is Ido Portal’s Training Philosophy Doing To Me?

Quick Tips

Ido Portal

I’ve been following Ido Portal for nearly 2 months and I’m starting to question how we “practice” fitness, what it means to be “fit”, how we get to the point of being considered fit, what humans should be able to do movement-wise, and on and on  and on.

I have to admit, thought process-wise, I am going through a shift.

Ido makes incredibly great points about movement and body control.  It’s a raw thought process, completely stripped down to just… movement.

The point that Ido conveys time and time again is that we should be able to move freely.  He references movement patterns, but I know from reading through his blog and watching his YouTube videos that he isn’t referring to the “safe” movement patterns that we fitness professionals beat into the ground.  He’s expanding far beyond that thought process.

Here are some snapshots of Ido-style movement…

I realize now, more than ever, that the modern-day human really doesn’t know how to handle their body.

We are slaves to sitting in chairs, cubicles, in front of the television and in cars.  If you really stop and think about how much we sit on any given day, it’s nauseating.  Even if we have no choice but to sit for our careers, when the weekend comes we still choose to grab a lawn chair and sit, sit at the bar, sit at restaurant.  Sit.

I can partially throw myself into this group also because I have to sit down to write on this blog.

I consider myself to be an athletic dude, but watching some of these videos leads me to believe that I have handicapped my own movement performance.  I am not even in the same realm as some of the people that have been under the Ido Portal tutelage for as few as a few months.

I can squat (ass to grass) and rest in the squatting position for long periods of time, elevate my arms overhead without breaking at the low back, and exhibit rotational range of motion at my thoracic spine when it’s required… but integrating of all of these elements into a free-flowing long sequence without making it look painfully difficult was humbling for me.

The low lizard crawl is a basic locomotion pattern in the Ido Portal Training Method, and it’s basically used as warm-up!  I am here to tell you that it is humbling how difficult it is to crawl 10-15 yards like this (fast forward to 1:56)…

Are the followers of the Ido Portal Method been practicing different techniques than I am?

Yes, of course.  They are following strict progressions that allow for a appropriate movement education.  A repetitive approach to learning movement in a progression-friendly manner will ensure that no fundamental steps were skipped along the way, all while achieving desired results.

The human body will adapt and increasingly better how we ask to move, or how we don’t it to move.  That is why a lot of people have back pain, poor hip mobility and loss of muscle activation from sitting.  But humans naturally want to stand up straight, so in order to make this possible, we compensate to achieve.

So I think that over time my movement will begin to flow like some of his videos, but it is going to take some work, some practice, dedication and time.

Many of Ido’s students YouTube videos display what I would consider to be “test-outs” or results from following his teachings, so I think that it’s important (when watching these videos) to keep in mind that there was an incredible amount of dedication and work put in prior to shooting each person’s testimonial of the Ido Portal Method.

It didn’t happen over night, in a week or in a month.

The other night, I was trying to find the words to describe my perception of how we pursue health and wellness, and where I stand on the matter.  It’s a difficult topic to discuss because there are so many elements that combine to form, health.

I continue to find myself veering away from “safe” more and more.  Now, I don’t mean that I am moving toward “unsafe” and negligent, but I really am questioning why we do what we do in the gym or outside of the gym (wherever we train).  It’s cookie cutter and robotic in nature.  It’s lacking exploration.  Reps, sets and rest cannot be the pot of gold at the end of the movement continuum.

Who established these rules that we follow so closely?  Science?  Industry leaders?

Do we continue to teach and preach these methods because that is what the masses want?  Or are we lacking in our own understanding of more complex movement patterns, integration and improvisation?  Are we aiming for the wrong target?  What does fitness mean anyways?

We aim for reproducible results- and I don’t think that we should be aiming for anything different- but we have become robots in our pursuit of fitness.  The entire idea is skewed.  Everything that we preach for people to do is cookie cutter and safe.

There is very little room for anyone to stray from the path, and if you do (as I am exploring currently), you’re branded and thrown out to the wolves.

We preach moving within our means, avoiding compromising body positions and alignment, moving weight safely, employing safe rep and set ranges for maximizing our goals, adequate rest to perform that work safely, etc.  Safe, safe, safe.

Before you label me a hippocrate, let me say that I actually also believe in safe.

Ido Portal’s methods of movement might be right for everyone at some point, but maybe not at this moment.

The human race have never moved less or eaten worse.

We sit more, we move less. We are walking time bombs with regard to our ability to move effectively or for any duration (endurance, etc).  We eat food created in factories, food that has never seen the earth’s soil, food that contains ingredients that we cannot pronounce much less identify… and because we eat so much of this food, our body’s have become a reflection of these poor choices.

Make no mistake, we are what we eat.

But the problem is that we don’t even know we are heading down a path of self-destruction.  Eating crap has become the norm, and we don’t even know it.  But food chatter is outside of the scope of this blog post.  I’m not a nutritionist nor do I really want to be.  I’ll end the nutrition talk here.

We walk around commenting that a person is “in shape” if they don’t cast a bubbly shadow on pavement on a sunny day.  Not everyone needs to have a six-pack, but we are desensitized to what health looks like.  “Lean” is almost taboo is some areas of America, and the world.  One look back in history will show that most of civilization is getting bigger.  And by bigger, I am not referring to taller.

In many instances, our body shape is actually limiting our ability to move.  Yes, the amount of tissue that we are carrying on our bodies are preventing us from moving the way that we are supposed to move.

Studies like this support my bantering…

I started thinking like this a few years ago, and I thought I was crazy, because my background is strength and conditioning.  Strength and conditioning workouts and programs are EXTREMELY structured, and EXTREMELY safe.  There is very little room for movement exploration in the eyes of strength coach.  Strength based programs, as I mentioned, are extremely structured.  You work through phases that place focus on building different athletic qualities (hypertrophy, strength, power, work capacity, etc).  The reps and sets are calculated, training days, rest, etc.

I got trapped in that way thinking for everyone, athlete or otherwise.  More like handcuffed.  To the point that I felt like if I explored anything outside of a 4-phase workout program, a barbell squat or a systematic approach to “core training”, then I was a Looney Tune.

Then I picked up a kettlebell for the first time.  Kettlebells had been around for a little while, but they were still considered taboo by some of the leaders in the strength and conditioning industry.  After executing some kettlebell swings and some turkish get ups in a hotel room after a performance conference, I realized that movement was different from exercise.

Movement is different from exercise.

This is movement:

This is exercise:

I was strong, but my integrated movement was shit.  In fact, I wasn’t graceful at all.  My muscles were powerful and my joint were mobile and stable, but I had zero grace in pure movement.  I was powerful, strong and stable within the confines of identified movement patterns, but when I challenged myself outside of these confines, I was at beginner level.

Again, I realized that movement is different from exercise. I was certainly moving when I exercise, but I was trapping and limiting my ability to move freely with traditional exercise.

In fact, I don’t even like the word exercise.  I use it but I don’t like it.  I use the word “movement” on this blog over and over again.  I would even prefer to say “train” or “practice” or “drills” over the word exercise.  Exercise makes me cringe.  “Exercise” makes me think of automated robots on a treadmill.  I don’t want to be an automated robot.  I want to move.  I want to move because I enjoy moving, and seeking out new methods of movement is challenging.  I want to move in an unrestricted 3-dimensional manner.

I’m not going to discard structured movement training using such drills as push ups, squats, and lunges, because they have their place.  But I am damn well going to explore un-traditional forms of movement from here on out.  Climbing, hanging, swinging, etc.  Full integration of movement play and practice starts now.

We fitness professionals think that we know movement and that we are teaching people how to be “functional”, shame on us.  We stop our teachings at “flat back”, “shoulders down and back” and “pressurize your core”!

I learned a long time ago, after crumpling up and throwing away probably 2-3 books worth of writing material that I should trust my thinking.  I feel that I should trust my thinking now.  I have grown to appreciate being exposed to new ideas that initiate an evolution in my own thinking.

Why be trapped?  Go explore, go move…

Oh and here is that picture that I promised some 910 words ago…

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Cheers to stumbling onto ideas that open our minds!

KG