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

Motion

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

This flow features 4 bodyweight exercises and is for EVERYONE.  

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

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

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

Here’s the flow…

Exercises featured:

  Table Top

  Table Top with Thoracic Rotation

  Crab Reach (from Animal Flow)

  High Bridge Rotation

*** Links to exercise demonstrations.

 

Reps/Sets Suggestions…

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

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

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

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

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

Personally, I prefer higher rep ranges. 

Go north of 10 reps on each side.  

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

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

 

Exercise tips and commonalities…

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

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

  Keep the rib cage tucked.  

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

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

–  Breathe.

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

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

 

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

  Hip extension reinforces glute engagement. 

  Stretching the hip flexors 

  Shoulder extension and stability

  Pelvic control

  Thoracic extension and rotation (spine mobility)

  Movement transition practice

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

  Exposure to new body positions and movements

 

Closing… 

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

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

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

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

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

Expanding your range of movement skills is a worthy investment.   

You’re never too sophisticated to move.

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

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

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

Success leaves clues.

Moving is both the benefit and the medicine.

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

Let me know what you think in the comments below…

 

 

Cheers,

Kyle 

Beginner Flow Training: 5 Challenging Bodyweight Exercise Combinations

Motion

If you’ve dedicated time to training exercises in isolation, good.

What do I mean by isolation?  Training front squats using a work:rest type scenario is isolation.  Do a set of squats, rest, do another set of squats.  Most people will be familiar with this.    

Grinding on exercises in isolation is key to developing performance.  Celebrate the efforts.  

But, if you’re looking to add some flavor to your workouts, consider combining exercises together to create movement sequences.  

Creating bodyweight based “nano-flow’s” is a training tactic heavily influenced by Animal Flow and elements of Ido Portal’s ground based conditioning work.  I wrote an extensive article about Ido Portal’s training methodology, read here 

Movement in daily life rarely happens the same way twice (or for 3 sets of 10 reps) like it does in the gym.  We think it does, because it feels similar, but there are always subtle differences in every movement and motion that creates a unique physical experience.  

Practicing a series of movements with brief periods of transition between each movement is an effective strategy to prepare for the unexpected demands of daily life. 

Moving toward flow training improves a person’s movement IQ, confidence and aids in injury mitigation in by adapting the individual to impromptu traversing of obstacles.  Making split second adjustments to terrain, objects, trips and stumbles gradually become a skillset as the body adapts to quick decision making of the mind AND the body.    

Introducing a new physical  into the mix is refreshing and fun.  Hours in the gym working the same exercises, chasing weight increases, more reps and sets can get quite bland.  Staying excited about physical activity is important.  

Enough already.

Here are 5 bodyweight based movement combinations worth trying… 

#1  Parallete Bar Pass Through to L-Sit

Parallette Bars are a simple training tool and this combination makes great use of their design.  Begin in a push up position, immediately lifting the legs and “passing through” the middle of the parallettes into the L-Sit.  Hold the L-Sit for a 2-3 second count, then reverse the pass-through back to the start position.  

Don’t rush this.  Use a slower tempo, spend time under tension and focus on controlling every inch.  Embrace moving slow before moving fast. 

Obviously this combination requires a set parallette bars (aka: P-Bars) for this combination.  The parallette bars I’m using in this video are made of PVC, costing me roughly $6 and 10 minutes to cut, glue and assemble.  They work great. 

Could a person use chairs, wood blocks or something else?  Yes, absolutely.  But Parallette Bars will give you a better experience.    

 

#2  High Bridge Rotation to Lizard Crawl

I give credit to 3 different training programs for shining the spotlight onto the benefits of bodyweight based training:  Ido Portal Method, Animal Flow and Global Bodyweight Training. 

Animal Flow (ground training) and Global Bodyweight Training (strength) equipped me the movement tools that led to implementing the high bridge rotation seen in this video.  

Today, I work some variation of back bridging in nearly every workout, either as maintenance or to make progress.  

High Bridge Rotations require adequate spinal extension, shoulder mobility, stability and strength.  Practicing basic static back bridging is a must to gain access to the rotation.  For many, back bridging will be unnatural (it was for me).  In time, the body will make the adaptation the static bridge, bringing the High Bridge Rotation closer.  

Once out of the high bridge rotation, refocus your vision, lower down and initiate the lizard crawl.  The lizard crawl is an amazing strength and conditioning exercise.  

As you can see, the lizard crawl is the dominating exercise here.  You can also see my range of motion is modified to avoid the wall and cardio machines.  

If you’re new to the lizard crawl, check out the following variations, which may be a bit more palatable.  

  Alligator Crawl

  Handslide Lizard Crawl 

  Elbow Crawl

 

#3 Burpee Sprawl – Push Up – Squat – L Sit

What the hell am I supposed to name these movement combinations?  I realize it’s a mouthful, but technically, the name describes the sequence accurately.  I’ll keep it.  

Perform a push up, hop forward into a deep squat position, place the hands on the floor slightly behind the butt cheeks as the legs extend and LIGHTLY tap the floor with the heels.  Reverse the flow.  

Tip:  Keep the sprawl motion light and graceful.  This is designed to be a heart pumping, thrashing burpee exercise.  Control the kick back, be soft and quiet with the landing. 

 

#4  Lunge to Pistol Squat Flow

Lower body training is essential for health and performance.  So much of life takes place on two feet.  Strong, stable and mobile legs that are capable of performing a robust variety of movements is well worth the time investment.  

This combination binds together two fundamental patterns:  lunges and squats.  

Do your best to avoid touching the swinging foot to the floor during each transition.  

This is one combination probably best executed for reps.  Reps will vary from person to person, but 3-5 sets of 6-10 reps per side will work. 

 

#5  Lizard Crawl + Low Scorpion 


Like most people, I’ve got favorite exercises.  Not necessarily because I feel I’m good at them, but because of the value they bring to my workout time.  I don’t have all day to train.  I want exercises to give me big bang for my buck.

This lizard crawl + low scorpion combination is a unique, high value sequence. 

There’s no beginning or end with this sequence. It’s a cyclical flow perfect for a small training space.  

Practice this for repetitions or time.  I prefer the time option.  Setting a timer to focus on my movement quality versus having to tally repetitions and tripping over myself in the process.  Set the timer, start moving.  

Perform the initial phase of a lizard crawl, sweeping the unloaded arm forward.  Reach.  Once the hand finds the floor, transition your weight forward.  In a traditional lizard crawl, the trailing leg would articulate and relocate to the side of the body.

Instead of continuing the crawl, reach the trailing leg up and over the body.  Find the floor, step the other leg through, rinse and repeat.  

Got all that?  Just watch the video… hahaha. 

 

Closing it out.. 

Fusing movements together is a great way to further challenge the body and bring a refreshing challenge into workouts.  Maintaining interest in the contents of a workout is vitally important for long-term adherence.  Quite simply, I you’re bored and burned out, it’s easy to skip training day and make that the new habit.  

Not mentioned here are the cognitive benefits of learning new movements, skills and processing the transitions between those movements/skills.  The “mental gymnastics” involved in sorting out unfamiliar movement is incredible for the brain.  It keeps a person young and sharp with processing and solving movement riddles.  

 

 

Cheers to your efforts,

Kyle