Ido Portal Exercises for Beginners| Lizard Crawl Variations

Ido Portal

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The goal of this article is to present several of my homemade lizard crawl regressions to get a newbie acclimated.  Most of these drills were designed to help myself better understand the mechanics of the lizard crawl, and I’d like to share them with you…  

The Lizard Crawl exercise, from my point of view, is the king of the ground-based locomotion drills.  It’s a monster of an exercise, best broken down into digestible segments if you’re a beginner to such training.

Lizard crawling is jam-packed with physical benefits that spill over into all other areas of one’s physical practice.  The lizard crawl will test joint range of motion and stability, muscular endurance and strength, core strength/stability/endurance and motor control all in one shot.  

Another positive side effect of lizard crawling is conditioning.  It’s pure work when you’re inefficient and learning.  Expect to be winded with heart rate will be soaring after several yards.  

Although a successful lizard crawl is a total body effort, the upper body is tested to a great degree.  The lizard crawl elicits a similar training effect to more common crawling variations (bear, crab, etc) and progresses it a step further.  

Remaining in the low position for the duration of the crawl is what does most people in.  

A full blown lizard crawl is deceptively difficult.  Watching someone like Ido Portal lizard crawl (a world class movement practitioner), it’s easy to think, “Doesn’t look too bad, it’s just crawling, I could do that”.  And maybe you can.  If so, good on you.

But for most people, the mechanics are complex.  As mentioned earlier, joint position and range of motion, the timing of the hands and feet, core activation in difficult positions may completely foreign.  

Foreign = struggle bus.     

I do suggest you watch several of these videos and test abilities to give yourself a baseline for improvement.  

Even if you’re able to crawl several feet on both sides, the next challenge is to add some distance to the movement.  

Without further ado, here are few more lizard crawl variations to slip into your workouts demonstrated by yours truly…

Lizard Crawl Variation #1 – 2 Hands + 1 Foot

In this variation, we are going to keep two hands in contact with the floor while practicing hip range of motion and foot placement.  Softly move the knee up beyond waist height and place the ball of the foot on the floor.  Lower into the bottom of the push-up, chest hovering roughly 2 inches above the floor. Pause, looking forward, return to the start position.

Lizard Crawl Variation #2 – Soft Arm Reach

Introduction to reaching with the lead arm.  We will remain stationary for the time being.  Expect the complexity to ramped up significantly once movement is introduced.  This variation involves a soft slide of the lead arm, straight out and back in.  This also provides some sensation of what it will feel like supporting the body on one arm, another challenging aspect of the lizard crawl.  

Same exercise cues as the previous variation, lower step with the leg, plant with the ball of the foot, lower down with control, but now slide the hand out softly.  Breathe. 

Lizard Crawl Variation #3 – “Alligator” Arms and Legs

To give you a taste of some dynamic movement, here is the short-arm variation of the lizard crawl.  

I refer to it as an “alligator” progression.  The idea is to reach with a limited range of motion, keeping the elbows flexed and close to the rib cage.  This elbow position is far more manageable versus reaching out into full extension.  

Also, notice the limited range of motion on the foot placement.  Plant with the ball of the foot, stabilize and gain control, breathe, now move the hands and support.  Slowly move forward, don’t rush it.  

This variation is a humbling introductory training stimulus to the full lizard crawl.  Many will begin to understand the sheer complexity of the lizard crawl pattern after trying this.  

The path to improvement is practice.  Don’t be discouraged by your initial attempts.  It may be a frustrating experience, even if you consider yourself to well conditioned.  

It’s common to find joint mobility, stability, core strength and endurance to be lacking, all of which can be practiced using the three progressions I’ve shared.  

Practice the progression that allows for technique achievement.  

Each will lead you to the next and continual progress will be made.    

If you’re interested in learning more about the Ido Portal Method training philosophy, check out this popular article I wrote several years ago…

 

Cheers…

Kyle 

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Basics of The Ido Portal Training Method

Ido Portal

 

Ido Portal

{Photo Credit:  www.idoportal.com}

Ido Portal Method training is taking off like rocket and growing in popularity every single day.  There’s 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.  

Very quickly, I realized Ido Portal Method was a different approach to fitness.

Ido Portal Method wasn’t pigeon-holed to doing things one way.  It was like an open platform of movement, capable of changing shape and direction, always seeking a higher standard.

The information I was taking in was unlike anything I’d seen before. 

Since my initial exposure, I’ve begun the process of digesting and translating Ido’s information.  This article represents some of that digestion and translation. 

The shift in my movement I.Q. has been profound, despite not committing 100% to his programming.  I’ve integrated many of Ido Portal style “beginner” movement drills into my own workouts with great success.  

I’ve also played around with my own variations of locomotion patterns…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 are some details on each phase…

Isolation

In the Ido Portal Method, Isolation based movement is essential to forward progress.  

Strength is a prerequisite.  You must continually work to become stronger.

Ido Portal Method Isolation = movement patterns.

Movement patterns include variations of:  squats, deadlifts, vertical pulling and pressing, horizontal pulling and pressing, glute-ham raises, rotational exercises, core training, olympic lifting, stabilization drills, kettlebells work, etc… all fall into the Isolation column.

Most of you will be familiar with these exercises.  

There’s also a heavy emphasis on effectiveness of high tension bodyweight-based strength training exercises in the Ido Portal exercise catalog.  

Body levers, hanging and climbing, dips, muscle ups, parallette work such as L-Sits, and Tuck Planches, single leg squats, single arm pressing, handstand push-ups and various locomotion patterns (crawling, rolling, etc.)

Mixing traditional strength training with body-weight based (think gymnastics-like) exercise is a potent combination.  Both are time-tested, proven strength building strategies essential to developing a body capable of transitioning to next level movement training.  

One is not superior to the other, they both have valuable application in a workout regimen.

Increasing one’s athletic capacities with Isolation style training is the path to being able to piece together movement sequences, and eventually improvised movement flow. 

Fitness is evolving quickly.  Today’s baseline movement standards and practices are much higher than they were even 2 or 3 years ago.  The human body thrives off of once considered taboo training methods like rope climbing, lifting odd-objects, locomotion, spinal freedom, high tension bodyweight training (gymnastics, etc).  

The human body should be able to do a lot of things well.  We not as fragile as we make out to be. 

The question is:  “Nice body, what can you do with it?”

Multi-planar strength and movement freedom.

The lightbulb moment and humbling part for me was realizing that the lowest rung of Ido’s movement classification system is what are commonly viewed as the highest rung of the ladder for most anyone else.  HIGHER STANDARDS! 

One of the goals of this article was exposure for readers.  I wanted to expose millions of people to a higher standard approach to movement training, because the shift is on and the possibilities are endless. 

It’s important to understand the existence of a realm of movement beyond sets, reps, weight, and racing the clock to set new P.R.’s.  

Handstands, leg-less rope climbing, ground-based movement flow full of re-energizing locomotion patterns are highly effective and within EVERYONE’s reach.  Properly guided movement progressions will get you there safely and effectively.  

Ido Portal Method has cleared the dust off this sort of misplaced movement disciplines to building higher functioning human beings.

Integration

Integration is the point where movement sentences are formed from the words (isolation).  

A squat, is no longer just a squat.  A squat fuses itself into a seamless flow with another movement pattern, no gaps between the two.  Through progression, more and more movement patterns are strung together.  A series of movement patterns formulating a “sentence” of movement.  

Sidenote:  Many will notice a heavy Capoeira influence in Ido’s teachings.

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 watched the “Locomotion Research” video 50+ times and it never seems to get old watching someone move like water.  The movement sequences demonstrated in the video are deceptively difficult.  

You’ll be humbled by the amount of integrated mobility, stability, and strength needed to complete the locomotion patterns.  Ground based locomotion work is multi-planar movement requiring a level of body awareness, joint range of motion and on again/off again body tension most people have never experienced.  

Locomotion work has been one of the greatest elements I’ve introduced into my movement practice.

Improvisation…

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

Dominating isolation exercises makes the transition to integration significantly easier.  

With consistent practice of Isolation and Integration, 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) are rarely expressing improvised movement.  Competition routines are all pre-planned, practiced and choreographed prior.  

Improvisation is the combination of isolation and integration.  You’re essentially making it up as you go, or “flowing”.  Though it will likely take years of dedicated practice, improvised movement flows are achievable.  

This is where progression becomes important.  Flowing like Ido after a couple months isn’t going to happen.  But, keeping a “white belt mind” can have a person improvising simple movement patterns into flows relatively quickly.  (See Animal Flow further down in this article).

I’ll spend less time on describing Improvisation because most folks need to focus on nailing down the elements of Isolation and Integration.  

In interviews, Ido has mentioned several times he thinks there is a dimension to be explored beyond Improvisation.  Where do we go after improvisation?  Ido wasn’t quite sure, but the feeling is that something else exists.

Levitation? 🙂

Useful Muscle and Fat Loss

People still value aesthetics.  

We can skate around the topic, act like we don’t care what we look like and that it’s “superficial” ramblings, but most people want to feel good about themselves when naked.  Feeling comfortable in your skin builds confidence.

So let’s discuss this quickly.

Isolation exercises and Integration are ideal for building muscle and changing body composition.

I make no claims here, but the average human body won’t have a choice but to build useable layers of lean muscle as strength and expanded movement capacities are pursued.  When movement performance capacities improve, body composition tends to shift along with it.  It’s very predictable.  

Even with a mediocre diet, an 80/20 rule of healthy eating (80 being good, 20 allowed for tasty temptations) muscle will develop and body fat will decrease.  This is highly predictable.  

Isolation based exercises are a long-term investment in keep the fat off and the muscle on.  Integration training builds on this foundation further supports the cause.

All of this happens naturally as a person seeks to EXPAND PERFORMANCE.  

It’s why I recommend people who are worried about body composition to shift workout motivation away from muscle and fat loss, in favor of improving performance.  

Focus on improving your movement potential.  Let the body composition changes take place naturally.  Relieve yourself of the anxiety, live your life. 

On we go…

Isolation and Integration Progress

The Ido Portal Method represents an incredible shift with how 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 in this way.  

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

You must spend a great deal of time working on Ido Portal Isolation exercises.  Groove the technique, build strength, increase joint stability and mobility.  This is the foundation.  

A stronger, more stable, more mobile, more resilient body makes for a more useful human.  

Those who are interested in Ido Portal Method may be looking for a product to further understand the training system.  

You’re not going to find it today, and may never find it.  I don’t think it’s going to take shape.  Ido’s online store has been empty for 4 years running.  I’m waiting for it, you’re waiting for it, we are all waiting for it.  

So I did some research on alternative training programs that could bring me face to face with many of the elements taught in Ido Portal Method.

Eventually I discovered two and began working them hard.

Here are some details about both.

Animal Flow: Isolation, Integration, and Improvisation

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Animal Flow is a ground-based bodyweight training system.   

Most of the locomotion floor work in Animal Flow is the same as Ido Portal Method.  

What is locomotion?  Locomotion consists of quadrupedal ground-based exercises like crawling (Lizard Crawl, etc), switches, transitions, etc.  

Animal Flow is built for the long distance learning.  You can use train Animal Flow at home or in a public gym.  Being bodyweight-based means you can take with you wherever you go.  

[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.]  

Animal Flow provides progressions from beginner to mastery, so if you feel you’re well beyond the basics, you’ll still find many of the flows very challenging.  Animal Flow includes controlled movement sequences, but encourages improvised flows as the user increases movement IQ and understanding of each isolated exercise.

For the cost conscious… 

One problem with Ido Portal Method is the cost.  It’s roughly $1000-$2000 to work with him.  

Comparatively, Animal Flow will set you back $50-$60 while teaching a similar movement curriculum.

Paraphrasing Ido in his recent documentary, “very little of what I’m teaching is new”.  It’s merely absorbing, improving and integrating ideas from pre-existing movement disciplines found across the globe.  

Animal Flow movements are first practiced in isolation and later integrated together to create movement sequences and flows, the same as Ido Portal Method.

The tempo of workouts can be adjusted to create a cardio-strength training effect or a dynamic yoga-like experience.

My Experience with Animal Flow

I stumbled onto Animal Flow not long after finding The Ido Portal Method.  My interest in exercising beyond lifting weights was growing and ground-based conditioning looked refreshing, functional, restorative and performance based.

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

Over the past few years, 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.


The first few sessions sucked.  I sucked.  I felt uncoordinated and frustrated with the fluidity of my movement. 

Notably, my spine was super stiff from years of “bracing”, “rigid neutral spine”, stability training, etc.  However, my spine control is improving with each workout.  It’s amazing how quickly the body adapts to practice and yet how long it can take to reverse things.  

Spinal flexibility improves daily…


Stringing together long improvised movement flows with varied tempos has been extremely fun for me.  Throwing out the rep/set scheme in favor of moving around a cleared space.  

This article explains in greater detail how I use Animal Flow in my workouts.

Keep an eye on my YouTube channel as I add video demonstrations daily.  

Global Bodyweight Training:  Strength!

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Strength is the foundation of movement and control over one’s bodyweight.

If you want to become a better mover, you’ve got to build strength.

Bodyweight Athlete  coaches users through the most important bodyweight exercises in a simple format.  I chose Bodyweight Athlete over other programs because of the layout, exercise progressions and the similarities it has with the strength training aspect of The Ido Portal Method.

Bodyweight Athlete highlights the following exercises:

  • Muscle Ups
  • Handstand Push Ups
  • Single Arm Push Ups
  • Single Arm Body Rows
  • Pistol Squats
  • Handstands
  • L-Sits
  • Human Flag (aka: body levers or Dragon Flags)
  • Back Levers

All of these exercises are “Pinnacle Moves”.  It’s a common misconception that incredible strength can only be built by lifting weights.  I used to buy into that approach.  But once I submerged myself into the world of calisthenic and gymnastics based training, I was completely humbled.  Humbled by the difficulty of the exercises, the strength gains I made and the speed of those gains.  

Like Animal Flow, you do not have to be an advanced mover to see improvements with Bodyweight Athlete.  

The exercise progressions are designed to be scaled for everyone, beginner or elite.  It’s one thing to watch YouTube videos of people doing amazingly difficult things with their body, it’s another to find a program that can lead you to those same movements.

One fastest ways to transition from an average mover to a great mover is to build strength.  

How do you build strength?  

There are many ways, but they all thrive off of foundational principles…

  • Smart exercise progression.
  • Progressive overload.
  • Progressive exercise complexity.  

Smart progressions are extremely powerful.  Combining smart exercise progressions with simple accessory work like mobility, stability and flexibility training… strength gains can be made safely and quickly.  

Other important variables include the ability to stay disciplined, work hard and stick to the plan without skipping around.  A lot of people stop training because they quit on a program TOO SOON or they bounce around inside of the program, skipping the basics.  

Mastery of the basics IS the “secret”.

Joint mobility and core training, self myofascial release and breath work are also a big part of The Bodyweight Athlete Program.  I was impressed by this since movement improvement is more than grinding it out in the gym.  Self maintenance is important to long-term movement.

Each workout breaks the body down.  It is essential to recovery and regenerate to come back stronger and avoid injuries.

Learning insider strategies to keep joints buttery and mobile, core strong through all planes of movement, muscles supple, body free of injuries is vital to improving movement capacity.

If you’re hurt, you can’t train.  That’s a problem.  Aim to build performance aggressively but safely.  Proper preparation is essential.  

Personally, I was impressed with the breath training coaching in Bodyweight Athlete.  Breathing has an overlooked impact on movement.  

The breath can reveal a lot about movement deficits.  We tend to hold our breath when our body is exposed to vulnerable or new positions.  Pay attention next time you’re training.  Breath holding is probably most noticeable in Yoga.  

Are you a neck breather or a belly breather?  This is another important thing to notice about yourself.  You’re leaving a lot on the table if your not filtering air down to your belly.   

So how would I position Bodyweight Athlete?

Use Bodyweight Athlete as a compliment to Animal Flow, and vice versa.  

Bodyweight Athlete will build strength using important movement patterns while the Animal Flow takes that strength and uses it “make shapes” and move more efficiently on the ground (locomotion, flow, etc). 

Closing thoughts…

This is the best advice I can give you:  follow a program.  

Intelligent programming is vastly superior to randomized “workout of the day”.  Dabbling with randomness leaves a lot of people working hard with little to show for it.  

Find a program and follow every detail relentlessly.  When movements, reps, sets, flows start to feel easy, make the jump to the next level of difficulty to keep progressing.  Stay uncomfortable in your training regimen.

Film yourself.  Take before and after videos to see the progress.  There’s nothing more powerful and motivating to see your movement change.  

Also, prepare yourself mentally for screeching halts in progress.  It happens to everyone, and these speed bumps are temporary.  

There will be days and weeks where you feel like you’re not gaining any ground on your goals.  These are the moments are when you strap in and train harder/smarter, with increased focus and intent.

A smart training program will factor in halts in progress and give you the necessary tools to blast through these plateaus.  

Most of all, keep moving and moving often.  Your body needs it.  

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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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