Beginner Flow Training: 5 Challenging Bodyweight Exercise Combinations

Motion

Natural movement flow is a key training element missing from most people’s fitness regimens.

Including movement combinations, ground-based exercises and sequences bridge the gap between linear resistance training and natural movement.

Practicing exercises in isolation essential for developing performance.  

What is isolation?  

Deadlifts, front squats, push-ups and pulling without the addition of any add-on exercises, using a work-then-rest format, is isolation.  

You’re isolating an exercise and performing it for a set number of sets, reps and rest.

In a separate blog post, I dove deeper into Ido Portal’s general training template, which included an overview of his methods following this approach:

Isolation 👉 Integration 👉 Improvisation

Walk into any gym, and you’re likely going to see people exercising in isolation.  

Perform a set of deadlifts, rest, check Instagram, a sip of water, then back to the next set of deadlifts.

This is the isolation phase of movement training.

Movement Flow

If you’re looking to add a fresh challenge to your workouts, combining exercises together to create movement flow sequences is a great way to do that. 

Several years ago, I started mixing and matching traditional movement patterns and non-traditional exercises together to create 2 or 3 exercise flow sequences.

Here’s an example:


Gym workouts and real-world movement can be very different experiences.  

While I value pursuing a mechanically perfect squat, do I ever stop to align my feet before squatting in a real-world scenario?

NEVER.

The modified squat I’m using in a real-world situation is often combined with 1 or 2 other movements.  

Squat down, lunge up, twist and carry.  

It’s rarely every just a perfect bodyweight squat in the real-world.

One goal of controlled environment training (aka gym workouts) is maximum transferability.

We lift and conditioning with the idea that it will enhance the physical moments (daily tasks, sports, and recreation, health, etc) help us improve the functionality of our body.

Yet, natural bodyweight movement is completely absent from most workout templates.

Crawling, climbing, rolling, navigating changing levels (laying to standing, fall training, etc), rotation or fusing exercises together in a pre-planned movement sequence or improvised movement work where you don’t know what’s coming next.

Practicing how to transition efficiently and effectively between two different body positions or patterns just makes sense to me.

Benefits of Movement Flow Training

👉  Improve movement IQ (confidence, dissipating fear of unexplored positions and tasks).

👉  Coordination and skill-building.

👉  Improving spatial awareness and how to transition between movements.

👉 Strength at more angles and positions.

👉  Injury mitigation via conditioning tissues to handle stress.

👉 Improve mind-body connection 

👉  Control over one’s bodyweight. 

👉  Fun, refreshing, never boring. 

Movement flow is very challenging for the mind, which to me, is one of the greatest benefits of flow work.

While you’re learning a flow, you really have to think it through to execute it properly and avoid getting twisted up, trips and falls.

“Ok, so my hand goes here, foot over the top, create tension, then relax, drop down, etc…”

The elevated thinking involved with a lot of ground-based movements is a major benefit.

Plus, introducing flow training is refreshing and fun. 

Hours in the gym working the same exercises, chasing the numbers (weight increases, more reps, more sets, faster finishing times) can get quite bland. 

Remaining excited every to move every single day is best for the long-term.   

5 Bodyweight Movement Combinations

#1  Parallette Bar Pass Through to L-Sit

Parallette Bars are inexpensive to buy and easy to build from PVC pipes.

Start in a push-up position, passing the legs through the middle of the parallettes right into an L-Sit.  

If an L-Sit is too aggressive, transition into a tuck position instead.

Hold the L-Sit for a 2-3 second count, then reverse the motion back to the start position. 

Perform 2-3 sets of 8-10 reps.

No parallettes?  

Chairs, stools or yoga blocks a good equipment substitutes.      

#2  High Bridge Rotation to Lizard Crawl

A reasonable looking back bridge used to be impossible for me.  My body was stiff as a board and incapable of arching through the spine. My shoulders lacked mobility, etc.  

Using dedicated joint mobility drills really accelerated the process, expanding the positions I was able to get into and out of, but bulletproofing my joints as well. 

MyDailyMobility is my recommendation for mobility conditioning. 

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

High Bridge Rotations require an adequate amount of spinal extension, shoulder mobility, stability and strength, which is why I recommend adopting a mobility program to accelerate the process.  

From an exercise progress perspective, practicing basic back bridges is the starting point.  

Adding in the rotation will come after.  

Transitioning out of the high bridge rotation can be a dizzying experience.  Refocus your vision, lower down and crawl lizard-style. 

The lizard crawl is an amazing strength and conditioning exercise.  

Here is a variation better suited for beginners: 

  Alligator Crawl

  Hand Slide Lizard Crawl 

  Elbow Crawl

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

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.  

Keep the sprawl motion soft and graceful. 

#4  Lunge to Pistol Squat Flow

Lower body training is essential for health and performance. 

Our legs need to be strong and well-conditioned, but also mobile and capable of expressing strength and stability throughout a large range of motion.

Especially the hips.  Hip mobility training has been a game-changer for me.

This combination connects two movement patterns:  lunges and squats.  

During the transition from front to back, do your best to avoid making contact with the floor.

This is one combination probably best executed for reps. 

3-5 sets of 6-10 reps per side will work. 

#5  Lizard Crawl + Low Scorpion 

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

There’s no beginning or end with this sequence, which makes it a great bodyweight-based cardio alternative.

This flow is relatively compact, making it perfect for a small home gym or other imperfect training spaces.  

Practice this sequence for repetitions or time. 

I like to set a timer and go.  Not having to keep track of reps allows me to focus on what my body is doing.  

Time-wise, I’ve used this flow for 5+ minutes continuous and it’s a challenge every time.

MOVEMENT20XX 

Fusing movements together to create flows is a great addition to traditional lifting and cardio, and is sure to bring a refreshing challenge into workouts. 

If you want to learn more about movement flow training, I highly recommend checking out the MOVEMENT20XX program from Vahva Fitness.

MOVEMENT20XX is one of the best movement-based products I’ve come across.  

Eero Westerberg did a brilliant job organizing and communicating the techniques of each exercise, how to create flows and leverage this method of training to build a high functioning body.

 

Related Blog Posts

✅ Basics of Movement 20XX| The A-B-C’s of Crawling Exercises

✅ 14 Exercise Total Body Warm-Up Routine

✅ A Giant List of Effective Core Exercises| Part 1

Movement Flow Exercises| Scorpion

Animal Flow

Movement Flow is perfect for home workouts because it’s bodyweight based and doesn’t require much space to execute.

Several months ago after careful thought, I decided to end a long running partnership with Animal Flow.

Animal Flow was my experience with equipment free, ground based movement training.

I learned a lot about the benefits of crawling, transitional movement and the value of being able to move my body well in space without weights.

Why leave Animal Flow behind?  Besides customer service at Animal Flow being non-existent and brutal, Animal Flow evolved into choreographed dance routines, which is not my taste.

Searching for an effective online movement platform yielded several results, with the my top pick being Movement 20XX from Vahva Fitness.

Movement 20XX is a ground based, movement flow oriented, bodyweight focused movement system.  It checks all of the boxes I wanted to see checked from this style of movement system.  

Crawling, flow, transitions and other unique locomotion patterns.  It’s all there.

Movement flow can be categorized somewhere between the Yoga and traditional resistance training.

Yoga, resistance training and movement flow can (and should) coexist with each other.  

Practicing each method enhances everything else.  It does not have to be one or the other.  Mix them all together.

[Personal trainers, strength coaches and average Joe’s who are solely fixated resistance training and other linear forms of exercise, REALLY lack movement capacity.  I know this because I used to be the same.  Steady practice began to undo years of linear training]

Movement flow is like a more dynamic version of Yoga and while breaking the linear structure of lifting weights. 

Beginner or a elite movers, at home, the gym or traveling, it doesn’t matter much when the movements are scalable, bodyweight based and require little space to do.

After that long lead in, let’s get to the main meal.  

This article is focused on the scorpion exercise.  

What follows is a detailed description of the scorpion exercise technique, benefits,  combinations and ideas on how to use it in warm ups and workouts.    

Scorpion

The Benefits of the Scorpion exercise

  Lengthening of the hamstrings and lats

  Opening up and activating the hips

  Thoracic spine extension and rotation

  Shoulder performance

  Rotational core training

  Uniquely challenging multi-planar movement

  Ground based, bodyweight based, equipment free, minimal space requirements

The last two bulleted points might be the best.

There is a style of physical exercise that exists between slow Yoga, hardcore weight lifting and high intensity interval training.

Ground based movement exposes your flaws.

If you’re a die hard Yogi, you‘ll be humbled by the difference between holding poses and moving into and out of unique body positions.  Adding a dynamic movement to a steady Yoga practice will freshen things up.

If you’re a “lift weights” kind of person, you will, without a doubt realize how linear most exercises are as compared to twisting, turning, balancing, arching, and constant positional changes characteristic of ground based conditioning.  To be blunt, expect to feel stiff.

People new to ground based movement training are going to trip over themselves for a while.  The body mechanics are new, the spatial awareness is new, the timing, tension, breathing, range of motion, etc… is new.  

Eat the dirt for a little while, practice consistently and you’ll improve.  

Here we go.

Scorpion Movement Technique

Bottom Position

The bottom position of Scorpion involves some trunk flexion and a bit of rotation.  The spine flexes while the anterior core “hollows”. 

Cues:

  Eyes toward the hands

  Shoulders over the hands

  Round the back slightly to make room for the knee coming across

Slide the knee across the midline of the body to the opposite side elbow.  “Kiss” the knee cap to the elbow followed by a reversal of the motion to initiate the upward phase of Scorpion.

* Tip:  Remove momentum from the cross-body knee touch.  Move slow and with control.  If you cannot touch the knee to the opposite side elbow without compensating, that’s fine!  Work the range of motion that you’re able to control.  

 **Warning: core cramping possible… crossing knee through the midline to the opposite side elbow is TOUGH.  Don’t be shocked if you cramp up here. 

Top Position

At the top of the Scorpion, the body moves into trunk extension and rotation. 

Cues:

–   Head between the arms

–   Keep anchored leg as straight as possible

–   “Reach” with the elevated foot, squeeze this glute

–   Relax the jaw and neck (breathe)

After touching the knee to the opposite side elbow, reverse the motion back through and up, leading with the foot.  Move into a modified Downward Dog as the free leg adducts and opens at the hip.

Say what?   

Here’s what I’m talking about…

What you should FEEL during Scorpion…

Moving is a multi-sensory experience.  You hear, see and feel with every movement.  

Knowing what to feel can speed up the learning curve with new movements and also give feedback that you’re doing the movement correctly. 

Bottom position of Scorpion

  •  Shoulder and chest burn from static support in the high plank position.  
  •  Intense core contraction while sliding opposite knee to opposite elbow.
  •  Again, 👆👆👆

Top position of Scorpion:

  •  Elevated glute working hard with a stretch of the hip flexors of that same leg.  
  •  Backside stretch running down the anchored leg from glute to the heel.  
  •  Side body stretch from the rotation (mainly the lats) 

Personally, my lats (hips to arm pits) get a big stretch while practicing scorpion. 

Incorporating Scorpion into Workouts

As part of a Warm Up

Dynamic ground- based movements are PERFECT for warming up before more aggressive loading from resistance training or elevating heart rates during cardio conditioning work.  

Here’s an example workout structure: 

1.  Foam Roll + Active mobility training

2.  Ground Based Conditioning (movement flow)

3.  Resistance Training

4.  Cardio

5.  Cool-down

This is a very simple and effective workout template.  

Spend 15-20 minutes working through foam rolling mobility and movement flow.  Keep it brief and focused.  

As part of a Lift or Cardio Circuit

Scorpion can be a great filler exercise when paired with lifts (chin ups, squats, deadlifts, lunges, pressing, etc).  

Filler exercises don’t take away from your main lifts while being more productive with rest periods.  It’s active rest.  

Here’s an example of a strength focused tri-set with the Scorpion as a filler exercise:

A1)  Chin Up

A2)  Front Squat

A3)  Alternating Scorpion

Chin ups and front squats for strength, Scorpion for ground movement. 

As part of a cardio circuit

3-5 rounds of:

10 Kettlebell Swings

10 Push Ups

10 Alternating Jumping Split Squats

10 Rows

3-5 per side Scorpions

In this workout, the Scorpions will be performed under fatigue. 

If you’re not ready for Scorpions under fatigue just yet, opt for practicing while fresh.  

As part of a movement flow

Set a timer and flow around a room using nothing but bodyweight movements you’ve got some familiarity with.

I’ve work improvised flow sessions for as long as 20-25+ minutes.

Start with simple crawling exercises integrated with switches and transitions.


Add in push-ups, planks, squats, lunges, bending, reaching, twisting.  

What kind of push-ups?  Regular ones or check out this push-up variation video.

It’s all fair game.  MOVE!  Explore the space.  

Flow work can be organized or improvised.

Beginners should consider practicing exercise in isolation.  Get the feel.  

Stringing a few exercises together to make a sequence can provide an added challenge.  Sequences introduce transitions.  

Either way, a simple movement flow session can be a welcomed departure from weightlifting.  It’s freeing, challenging and nourishing experience for the mind and body.  

Discard the idea that every workout needs to be a redline work efforts separated by rest.    

Move around just for the sake of moving around.  Explore.  Transition into and out many different positions (reaching, twisting, crawling, bending, jumping, holding, etc)

A little nourishing total body movement training on an off-day can leave you feeling refreshed and better prepared for the next intense training session. 

Unique, Multi-Planar Movement Kicks Ass

Most movement flow exercises are multi-joint and multi-planar. 

These ground based movements aren’t as simple as curling or pressing weight up and down for reps, until the “burn” is felt.  

There’s most certainly a period of acclimation.  Practice will improve body awareness in space, strength, joint mobility and efficiency.  

Body awareness in space is a big benefit to ground based movement training.  Expanding and refining your body’s movement skillset is a fantastic pursuit.  

A person’s ability to confidently interact with the ground (ever-changing terrain, body positions, etc) throughout life is a valuable skill to have.

Natural movement training.  

A lot of common gym exercises lack rotation, twisting and turning.  Lunges, squats, kettlebell swings, over head pressing, push ups and vertical pulling exercises such as pull ups and chin ups are all great exercises, but they lack rotation.

Rotation is a key element of human movement.  

Exercises like the Scorpion move the entire body through a unique range of motion, challenging the core, hips and shoulders.

If you’ve tried the scorpion while reading or after reading this article, I recommend checking out the entire catalog of ground movements in Movement20XX.

 

 

Cheers to you, 

Kyle 

The Many Ways to Use Animal Flow in Workouts

Animal Flow, bodyweight training, Motion

Scorpion

“Hmmm… Animal Flow looks a bit moving yoga. Then again, it also looks a bit like Capoeira. Well, maybe not. Maybe it looks like gymnastics. Yes, definitely gymnastics. Wait… there’s another yoga exercise, now it looks like yoga again.”

These are exact thoughts I had watching Mike Fitch demonstrating a movement flow several years ago.


Watching Mike flow seamlessly around the empty room captivated me. Even to the untrained eye, it’s unmistakable when you see someone who has complete dominance (aka control) over their body. When you see it, you know it.

I crashed head first into Ido Portal Method and Animal Flow at about the same time. Which makes sense now since they are both rooted deeply in bodyweight based movement. 

At the time, Ido Portal was growing at breakneck speed, but he had not (and still hasn’t) packaged his movement system into a product. Animal Flow did have a product, which it has now updated into Animal Flow 2.0.

Crawling patterns and primal movement were gaining traction as validated tactics to reset one’s body, improve strength, stability, core integration, body controls, yadda yadda yadda. In reflection, it makes sense Animal Flow caught my eye because Traveling Forms (Ape, Beast, Crab) are crawling locomotion patterns. For branding purposes, Animal Flow refers to these three basic forms as “animal-like” exercises which they are, but they are also crawling patterns.

Piggybacking the opening paragraph of this blog post, the most important point I could make about integrating Animal Flow into your workouts is this: Shape, mold and make it function any way that suits you.

Animal Flow is a hybrid training system constructed from many other movement disciplines, therefore it can serve you any way you need it to.

Cardio conditioning? Move fast, aggressive, lots of transitions, soft but quick floor contacts.

Recovery? Full range of motion, move slow, controlled, breathe deep, hold positions, find the stretch.

Pre-Workout Warm Up? Move through a full range of motion, activate hard at end range looking for expanded range, build the tempo up from slow to fast.

Animal Flow as the workout? Leverage lots of different tempos, explore many positions, make shapes, breathe, bring the heart rate up, lower it back down, improvise, etc.

Ground-based movement can serve an infinite number of purposes. How do you want it to serve your needs? That’s what I’d like you to keep in mind as you read through the rest of this article.

The purpose of this article is two-fold:

1) Share Animal Flow movement tactics with people who aren’t currently familiar.

2) Expand the application of Animal Flow exercises.

In we go…

I won’t pretend like it was love at first sight.

It took me a while to jump into Animal Flow. I was already working yoga steadily on non-workout days. Days when my body needed a rest but craved a sweat, range of motion, slow tempo and breath work. You know, the calming effect yoga is famous for.

Once I finally committed to mixing in Traveling Forms more seriously, I could immediately feel the difference. I felt more connected from my top half through my core to my bottom half. Shoulders opened up and felt more stable. General body awareness in space and control improved also. 

Stepping away from lifting is a major reason my body “opened up” and felt more fluid and connected. Pressing pause on lifting for several days if not several weeks (even months) is something that changed my entire perspective on daily physical activity. I recommend anyone who’s been a die-hard lifter to remove yourself from weight training for an extended period of time. Don’t stop exercising during this time, rather, seek out alternatives.

Animal Flow is a perfect place to start and explore.

Using Animal Flow exercises for Pre-Workout Warm-Up

Initially, I started by using Traveling Forms during my warm-up. Here is how I structured everything…

Pre-Workout Warm-Up (15-20 minutes)
Foam Roll + Thoracic Mobility Peanut Drills
Dynamic Stretching
Activation (using mini bands, wall slides, etc)
Animal Flow Traveling Forms (and maybe some jump rope)
The Workout

Yes, I still foam roll.  

After working through more traditional strength and conditioning stretches, activation and mobility, I’d start crawling for 3-8 minutes, sometimes followed by jumping rope, sometimes not.

In the beginning, 3 minutes of crawling patterns seemed daunting. After a month or so, I was crawling without rest for 8-10 minutes. Challenging? Hell yes, but the body acclimates quickly with consistent practice.

This pre-workout routine provided enough time to explore each of the three Traveling Forms in isolation. Isolating new exercises has always been my strategy. Isolating an exercise allows me to focus on the mechanics of the movement. 

Beast

Favoritism and familiarity lead me to practice Beast and Crab first. Beast is a prone crawling pattern (chest to the floor) and Crab is a supine crawling pattern (chest to the ceiling). Beast and Crab are essentially opposites, and therefore complement each other very well. The difference in body position changes the stress on the core and arms, front, back, and side of the body. Each movement also challenges active mobility differently.

Currently, my home gym allows for 12 feet of crawling in any one direction. Working with my training space, I would crawl 12 feet forward, reverse it and crawl 12 feet back. The first couple of workouts I programmed low volume and a much slower tempo crawl.

Beast – Crawl down and back 5 times (120 ft of crawling)
Crab – Crawl down and back 5 times (120 ft of crawling)

Start Workout.

From here, I ramped it up pretty quickly. I get antsy.

Combine Beast and Crab together, crawling down and back 6 times each without rest. This will take about 5-6 minutes to complete with a steady tempo.

Once I started to explore and understand Animal Flow Switches, I integrated them into my little Beast/Crab crawling medley…

Forward Beast + Under-Switch + Reverse Crab

Forward Crab + Under-Switch + Reverse Beast

Start Workout.

Rinse and repeat for time. This combination is simple and effective. Crawl down forward, switch, come back in reverse.

Next, I played around with longer duration for each Traveling Form, ramping it up to 1-minute per exercise before switching to the next…

Cycle 1-Minute per exercise of:
1-minute Beast
1-minute Crab
1-minute Beast
1-minute Crab

Start Workout.

… And so on.

I recommend working these patterns for as long as you like. Don’t overthink it. The risk of overdoing crawling is almost non-existent. Of course, if your plan is resistance training afterward, leave something in the tank for the training session.

Eventually, I introduced Lateral Traveling Ape to the pre-workout routine. Lateral Traveling Ape was my first real exposure to side-to-side locomotion. I struggled. What my mind’s eye thought I was doing was not what the playback on my iPhone camera showed. My technique was brutal. But the pattern was completely foreign.

I practiced Lateral Traveling Ape more incrementally than Beast or Crab, starting with two reps in one direction, two reps back to where I started. Rest and repeat. A smooth flowing Lateral Traveling Ape did not come easily for me.

Fast forward to current day, I’ll rip out pre-workout Traveling Forms almost in any structure I like. Lately, a medley I’ve been enjoying has been:

Cycle 8 minutes of:
Lateral Traveling Ape 16 ft
Switch
Beast Crawl 16 ft
Switch
Crab Crawl 16 ft

Start Workout.

Cycle through each of the 3 Traveling Forms for 8 minutes without rest. You’ll never feel more ready for a workout as you will after this effective little medley.

The badass thing about Animal Flow exercises is that your body will learn the mechanics quickly with diligent practice. Lateral Traveling Ape went from being an exercise I avoided to one of my favorites.

Personally, I think there are a lot of people dabbling with crawling patterns, which is great, but not including enough volume to see desired results. I’m not implying you’ve got crawl for a .5 mile every workout, but if you really want to get benefit from crawling patterns, play around with increasing the volume (without bending on technique).

A Tool for Recovery…

I love many aspects of yoga and typically feel great afterward, but I don’t always enjoy how stationary yoga is. Yoga sessions can feel rather restricting. Stay on the mat, you must never part with your mat.

Animal Flow takes features of yoga and transforms it into a dynamic practice. Essentially, you can move around the room until you’re ready to hold a pose or position.

Transitioning into an animal-like crawl to relocate or continue switching body positions to find the next hold.

Combining movement with elements of yoga creates a comprehensive training session pack with benefits from each.  Here is a simple recovery workout…

Lateral Traveling Ape x10 yards
Beast Crawl x10 yards
Downward Dog x 5 long breaths
Reverse Beast x10 yards
Downward Dog x 5 long breaths
Crab Crawl x 10 yards
Table-Top x 5 long breaths
Reverse Crab Crawl x10 yards
Crab with Reach x3 each side
*** Repeat the cycle for time or rounds***

This simple recovery workout seamlessly fuses yoga with Animal Flow. I’ve worked sequences like this for 20-30 minutes and felt absolutely fantastic afterward.

Or, give this more comprehensive recovery session a try, which includes drills from Kinstretch and Animal Flow.

Start with some basic Kinstretch drills to nourish the joints, finishing with some dynamic Animal Flow exercises to further open up and re-educate the body to cross-crawling patterns, reaching and positional switches.

Kinstretch:
Hip CAR’s x5 each leg
Spinal CAR’s x3
Shoulder CAR’s x5 each arm

… Followed by…

Animal Flow:
Beast Crawl x 10 yards
Reverse Beast Crawl x 10 yards
Crab Crawl x 10 yards
Reverse Crab Crawl x 10 yards
Lateral Traveling Ape x 10 yards
Crab with Reach x 5 each side
Slow Under-Switch x 5 each side
Scorpion Switch x 3 each
Slow Side Kick-Throughs x 3 each side
*** Repeat for 3-4 rounds ***

*** Sidenote: If you aren’t familiar with Kinstretch, check it out. It will change your life.

This will take 30 minutes of your time (or less). Move slowly through each of these exercises in descending order (top to bottom). Breathe deep with control, owning each movement.

This workout has a boatload of natural joint mobility and muscle activation work in it. Crab with Reach alone is a million dollar movement. If you’re activating extending the hips and reaching hard in the high position of each Scorpion Switch, there is likely to be some soreness the next day.

A gentle recovery workout like this helps to open up the joints, turn on important muscles, challenge multi-planar core stability and while getting a sweat without the beaten down feeling.

It might seem off-topic to list sweating as a benefit of a recovery workout, but considering the skin is the largest organ of the human body and sweating helps eliminate toxins from the body, support proper immune function and fight out toxin-related diseases.

Animal Flow and Kettlebells for Cardio

Virtually any exercise or series of exercises can be adjusted to create a cardio training effect.

Limiting rest, increasing the tempo and exercise complexity are all fantastic ways to further tax the cardiovascular system.

The recipe is simple: global bodyweight movements recruit more muscles plus higher intensity tempo with little or no rest in between elevates heart rate and respiration. Across time and with enough intensity, the body will head straight into oxygen debt. Huffing and puffing begin.

Ground-based movements are a total body experience. Combining various Traveling Forms (ape, beast, crab, lizard crawl variations, etc) and Switches creates a potent multi-planar training effect. 

Kick-Throughs…
Kick-Throughs are an excellent ground-based cardio exercise. Kick-Throughs, similar to any other Animal Flow exercise, can be scaled to suit any skill or fitness level. The explosive nature of faster tempo Kick-Through’s makes them ideal for cardio.

There are two primary variations: Forward and Side Kick-Throughs.

Many people will find Side Kick-Throughs to be a great entry into higher tempo ground-based movement.

Side Kick-Throughs how-to:
• Start in the quadruped position (static Beast), hands and feet on the floor, knees hovering an inch above the floor.
• Lift and slide one leg underneath your body as you pivot on the supporting foot.
• Reach with the sliding leg and open up the chest.
• Return to the quadruped position and perform the same action on the opposite side.

Gradually increase the speed of the kick-through to the point where technique remains intact but on the verge of “out of control”. 15-20 repetitions per side of Side Kick-Throughs will get the heart rate going. Another measurement of work is time. Anywhere from 30-45 seconds of exertion is a great place to start.

Kick-Throughs pair very well with kettlebells, as you’ll see below.

Select two kettlebell exercises and one variation of kick-throughs. Here are two great examples.

Workout A
Kettlebell Swings x8-10
Side Kick-Throughs x8 each side
Kettlebell Overhead Press x8 each arm
*Repeat for 6-8 rounds, rest for 45-70 seconds between each round.

Or…

Workout B
Kettlebell Gorilla Row x8 each arm
Forward Kick-Throughs x5 each side
Kettlebell Deadlift x10
*Repeat for 6-8 rounds, rest for 45-70 seconds between each round.

Or…

Mix and Match: Alternate Workout A and Workout B
Round 1: Workout A
Rest 60 seconds
Round 2: Workout B
Rest 60 seconds
Round 3: Workout A
Rest 60 seconds
Round 4: Workout B
*** Repeat for 8 rounds ***

Each round you’re performing 3 completely different exercises, using the same tool (kettlebells). If you’re tight on space, limited on equipment or looking to keep training simple and effective, this is a fantastic option.

Improvised Workouts Ground Based Conditioning Plus Animal Flow…

This is my favorite part of this article.

Animal Flow is a flexible movement discipline that can serve as little or big of a role in your training as you need to. In this section, I’ll talk about using Animal Flow as the workout, not just part of the workout.

Practicing many of the Animal Flow elements in isolation leads to stringing together longer pre-planned sequences, which eventually leads to the total improvisation of a workout or freestyle. This is the “flow” part of Animal Flow.

Flowing between various exercises for several minutes changed the game for me. It’s liberating to move around an open space without having a plan, just an understanding of knowing you can move in and out of many different positions, making shapes, increasing tempo, slowing tempo, etc. You’re in control of the session, your mind-body connection is communicating the way it was designed.

Very poetic.

Improvised flow is the highest form of training. It’s essentially movement play and exploration. I touched on this in my popular Ido Portal Method post.

I have no recommendations for improvised workouts, as they are improvised.  You make it up as you go.  Take what you know about Animal Flow: locomotion patterns, switches, transitions, etc… and build a sequence.  

There is no wrong way to flow, just start moving.  

Workouts like this can last as long as you’d like. I’ve improvised for 20-30 minutes, increasing the speed of movement sporadically throughout the session but constantly moving and changing positions.

Closing Personal Commentary…

Equipment free, ground-based conditioning has expanded my conditioning in incredible ways. I am a huge advocate of rowing ergs, airbikes, skiergs and the like, but conditioning on an open floor is entirely different than machine-based conditioning.

I’m not anti-machine.

I still use my Assault Bike and Concept2 Rowing Erg 2-3 times per week. Not for extended periods, but long enough to matter.

Taking a break from machine-based cardio will make you realize how mindless it is. I’m not saying it’s easy. It’s difficult but mindless. The gears and levers of a cardio machine move through a fixed pattern/range of motion. How hard you push yourself on the machine is entirely up to you. It’s a mind game. It’s willpower.

The amount of energy required to crawl, bend, twist, lunge, reach, roll, sprawl, rotate, squat, press around an open floor intensely for an extended period of time is mind-blowing.  Especially if you are new to it.

—>  More details about Animal Flow 2.0

 

 

Cheers, 

Kyle

5 Bodyweight Push-Up Variations

Animal Flow, Bodyweight Workouts, Ido Portal

The push-up is a fundamental human movement pattern effective for building athletic performance and improving aesthetics.

Calisthenic exercise solutions are HOT right now, and for good reason.  

Push-ups are a premiere bodyweight-based upper body exercise capable of building useable strength, endurance and sculpting a lean physique. 

It’s easy to get stuck doing the same variation of push-ups, which can make training dull and potentially lead to skipping workouts.  There’s a whole world of push-up progressions and variations worth exploring.  

The draw to bodyweight based training makes sense.  First and foremost, bodyweight training is FREE.  

Second, bodyweight training is natural movement.  How?  Why?  It’s just you managing your own weight against gravity, which makes this form of exercise pretty damn realistic for everyday life.  

Seems logical to improve one’s ability to handle their bodyweight in various positions and patterns.  The ability to press oneself up from the floor (to do other things like crawl or walk, etc) helps us stay mobile and live life.  

Bodyweight training can be as advanced as a person wants, or going the other direction, scaled for any beginner. 

Push-ups, squats, lunges, crawling and vertical pulling exercises pull-ups/chin-ups are the foundation of before external weight ever enters the equation.

Traditional Push-Ups…

When someone says “push-ups”, a lot of people immediately picture a max set of pumping up and down.  And yeah, you’re right, these are definitely push-ups, but these are just one variation done in isolation, in one body position, to nausea.  

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the traditional push-up, but you’re leaving out a lot of AWESOME variations if you stop exploring there.

It’s a reasonable thought that many people would find a renewed interest (and results) in controlled physical activity if they delved a bit deeper into the hundreds of different push-up variations that exist.  

The traditional push-up doesn’t (and shouldn’t) be the end of the road variation-wise, which is why I’ve had some serious motivation to share exercise variations lately.

That being said, pay your dues with traditional push-ups before departing for the “sexier” variations.  The basics are the fundamental pillars from which all other movement is built.  

The Often Forgotten “Secret”… 

There’s no special “secret” sauce in fitness, only what you know and what you don’t know.  

And you don’t know what you don’t know.  

If there is a “secret” to push-ups, it’s that they are often overlooked and forgotten during workout exercise selection.  Our eyes drift to objects of weight or other fancy gadgets instead of down at the floor where we can assume the position and start doing work in less than 2 seconds.  

It would seem that push-ups are perceived to be rudimentary, lacking effectiveness or “only for beginners”.

If you find yourself thinking about push-ups in this way, I once again encourage you to dig into this article (and future articles) to explore and try every variation I’m about to share.

I guarantee you’ll be humbled by the potency and cognitively stimulated during most of these variations.   

Adding weight to a push-up is a common strategy to improve upper body strength, and indirectly, improve core strength at the same time.

But what about pushing up in odd body positions?

Having fully adopted and integrated ground-based movements from both Ido Portal and Animal Flow, I’ve been exploring different variations of pressing up from the floor at known and unknown (improvised) times throughout a workout.

This post is all about some of the push-up variations I’ve been toying around with across the last 10-12 months.

Watch the video, read the short description then give it a try.

Explore what YOU can do.  

#1 Resistance Band Assisted One Arm Push-Ups

Resistance bands are a brilliant tool to make exercises like chin-ups/pull-ups, single leg squats or single arm push-ups more palatable.  The band reduces the amount of weight the working arm must move during the exercise, which is often enough to make the exercise manageable.  

I value eccentric-only variations, but there is so much value is being able to go through a full range of motion, with a little less weight.

#2 Lateral Push-Ups

Traditional push-ups are a great exercise and should be taken as daily medicine, but pressing up from a variety of positions will expand your body’s movement IQ. The traditional push-up is very linear and can become boring in time.

Lateral push-ups put your body in a squat position, which from the get-go is unique.  The “fall-out” requires rotation of the torso and soft hand placement.  

Lightly touch your nose to the floor, press back up into the start position.  Performed rhythmically and for long durations, lateral push-ups will tire you out.

Aim for 6-8 reps on each side, but don’t be scared to work these for even longer sets.

#3 Stationary Low Lateral Shifts 

The low lateral shift was my first personal experience with a hybrid push-up.  Hybrid, in the sense that there is no upward/downward motion, yet many of the same muscles involved in push-ups are being worked.

Considering most people find themselves weakest at the bottom of a push-up, this exercise will challenge you to the maximum since you’re hovering at that depth.

Cues:  Shift your body side to side without making ground contact, yet avoiding the imaginary “razor wire” above you.  If you’re familiar with “Archer Push-Ups”, you’ll notice the body position is similar.  The difference is you are not pressing in this low lateral shift, the tension is high and constant throughout the work set. 

Aim for 3 sets of 5-8 shifts side to side.

#4 Dynamic Low Lateral Shifts

I could have tagged this exercise as “Traveling Low Lateral Shifts”, but dynamic sounded more professional and the definition of dynamic fits perfectly:

– relating to forces producing motion.  Often contrasted with static.  

This exercise is a stationary low lateral shift but now you’re moving across space.  I would consider this an introductory exercise to Ido’s locomotion training, though still falling into the Isolation category.  

Cues:  Stay off the floor, but don’t rise too high.

Start slow, maybe traveling 5 yards down and back.  Work up from there, as far as you can handle.

#5 Beginner Lizard Crawl Push-Ups

Lizard Crawl push-ups are a great way to practice pressing in a non-traditional body position.  

The full Lizard Crawl is one of the best exercises I’ve added to my personal workouts in years.

Of all the exercises in this post, Lizard Crawl Push-Ups require the least amount of strength, which doesn’t mean they are easy peasy, but you’ll likely be able to work these for higher repetitions.  Anywhere from 10-15 repetitions per arm.

*** If you want a humbling experience, I do suggest you attempt a full Lizard Crawl to gain some perspective on how difficult the movement pattern is.  Normally I wouldn’t recommend this, but being a body weight crawling pattern performed 2-3 inches from the floor, I see no real danger in trying it.  You’re either going to have the strength, mobility, and coordination to do make it or you’re not.  

No equipment required…

With the exception of the resistance band for assistance on the one arm push-up variation, all of these exercises require no equipment.  

This gives you an opportunity to test these exercises in your next workout.  

If you travel frequently for work, congrats, you’ve got some new push-up variations to play around with your hotel room or the hotel gym.  

Don’t procrastinate, get after it.  

To learn more about Ido Portal and my interpretation of the Ido Portal Method, check out this post.

 

For now… cheers, 

Kyle 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beginner Lizard Crawl Exercise 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, 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 

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 

 

 

 

 

 

Useful Exercises to Help Build the Lizard Crawl Pattern

Ido Portal

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The Lizard Crawl is one of the most challenging crawling patterns.  

Aggressive joint angles, timing and coordination of the limbs along with a massive muscular demand make the lizard crawl pretty brutal in the beginning.  

The challenge is far beyond standard crawling patterns.  

Not all that long ago, I was a beginner with the lizard crawl.

The pattern was pretty sloppy for a long time.  I was inefficient and felt out of control.  

Inefficiency with movement might be great for burning calories, but it’s a bumpy road when you’re trying to build the pattern.  

On the road to preparing my body for the demands of the lizard crawl, several key exercise regressions played a significant role.  and this blog post directed at the beginner looking to learn more.

The goal of this article is to provide several launch points to work up into the full Lizard Crawl.  

Each Lizard Crawl exercise progression is designed to provide a gentle introduction to the body position and loading.

A full-blown Lizard Crawl has a deceptive number of moving parts moving and requires plenty of mental processing and physical capability.  

Exercises

The full lizard crawl requires:

👉 Mobility

👉 Upper body and core strength

👉 Coordination and timing

Improving control over shoulder range of motion is important for lizard crawling and beyond.  

The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint and should be able to move freely, but with control.  

When the shoulder joint lacks mobility or control over range of motion, problems can surface.  

Shoulder CARs

Controlled articular rotations are a mobility exercise that great for daily shoulder “hygiene”. 

I like to perform 8-10 reps per side each workout, which means every day.  Yes, every single day.  

Mobility training is a critical component of fitness, yet, training mobility like you would strength or endurance is a relatively new to a lot of people.  

My friends over at MyDailyMobility created daily mobility workouts to introduce people to effective mobility training that’ll expand your range of motion and help control what you’ve already got.  Check it out

Upper body strength is essential for the lizard crawl.  If you lack upper body strength, the full lizard crawl will be impossible.  

Regular push-ups are a great place to start.  You should be able to perform 15-20 bodyweight push-ups without rest.

From there, progress the bodyweight push-ups by adding weight.  The weight can be in the form of a weight plate, sandbag, chains, weightvest, backpack loaded iwth gear, etc.  Whatever you’ve got. 

Weighted Push-Ups

You’ll have to reduce the reps per set once you add weight, and consider lengthening the rest periods to recover from each effort.  

Start with 10-20lbs of additional weight and work up from there.  Stay rigid from head to heel.  

Sets/Reps:  3-5 sets of 5-6 reps.  (the last rep should suck)

Next, it’s time for a gradual transition into single-arm push-up variations.  

Single-arm push-ups are an incredible exercise for building pressing and core strength.

I really like this carpet slide push-up variation.

Carpet Slide Push-Up w/ Reach

Carpet Slide Push-Ups increase the load on the working arm, provide practice of reaching the non-working hand out to move forward (as you would in the full lizard crawl) while introducing a less stable position for the core to sort out.

Your mid-section will probably be sore after a carpet slide push-ups.

Gradually decrease hand pressure on the carpet slide, eventually removing the slide completely, just lightly sliding the hand across the floor surface.

Sets/Reps: 2-3 sets of 5-8 reps.  

*** The rep range is pretty broad, but keep pressing until you feel posture begin to break down. At that point, end the set and rest. 

Core Training

The lizard crawl will put your core strength, endurance and function to the test.  

Here are 3 different exercises to integrate into your workouts.

Core Rolling Patterns

Rolling patterns are exercises you have to try to truly understand how draining they can be.  When you take most of the momentum out of rolling, you’re rolling over with subtle movements from your mid-section.  

Very humbling drills. 

Sets/Reps:  Roll 360 degrees, than roll back to the start.  Go by feel here, this exericse can be self-limiting, as in you’ll burn out won’t be able to complete a full revolution. 

Hollow Body Rocks

Turn yourself into a banana and keep that position while you rock like a rocking chair.  

Sets/Reps:  3-4 sets of 12-15 reps. 

Dragon Flag Variations

Dragon flags are one of the best core strengtheners I know.   

Sets/Rep:  3 sets of 5-8 reps.

Lizard 🦎  Looking Exercises

For beginners, breaking the lizard crawl up into sections and training each section works well.

I like to start introducing the coordination and timing aspect of the lizard crawl by practicing non-moving variations. 

First, become familiar with what the low position feels like, because it is different. 

Push-Up with Alternating Foot Placement

The goal of this first drill is to practice the feel of the lizard crawl while reducing the amount of strength needed to do so.  

Using two arms into the descent accomplishes this.  

👉 Step the foot up to the outside of the hand and plant.

👉 Lower down into and out of a push-up.  

👉 Return to high plank position.

Don’t forget to relax the jaw and breathe.

Sets/Reps:  3-4 sets of 6-10 per side

Alternating Lower-Body Step and Reach

👉 Starting in a high plank position, step one foot to the outside of the same side hand.  (The side you step to will be opposite of the working arm)

👉 Slowly lower your chest to 1-2 inches above the floor.

👉 With feather light pressure, slide the unloaded hand out into full extension. 

👉 Pause for a moment, breathe, feel the position.

👉 Slide the hand back in, return the foot and press up to the high plank.  

Sets/Reps:  3-4 sets of 8-10 reps on each side. 

Dynamic Crawling Variations

The next step in the process is to start moving around.  

Building up strength is important, but it’s time to dive into crawling.  

Crawling can be a humbling activity, especially for adults.  

We think of it as something exclusive to babies or when your TV remote slides underneath the couch, but crawling is a great coordination and conditioning activity.  

Check out this post to learn more about some great crawling patterns. 

Final thoughts…

Quiet foot and hand contacts with the floor surface is a pretty good indication you own a movement.  

Breathing is another good indicator.  Clenched jaw, holding the breath?  I’d bet you don’t own that position yet.  Ask any Yoga instructor.  

Give each of these exercises a shot and be mindful of what’s taking place as you practice.  

The secret sauce to progress is disciplined effort and consistency.  

Practice hard and in time you’ll get the results you’re after.

Here are Several Other Ido Portal Push-Up Variations

Ido Portal

The effectiveness of the Ido Portal Method is no longer a secret.  

Ido’s knowledge is quickly becoming the premier system for building body weight dominance.

Before you watch the videos below, remember that the best gains are made when following a system, which is basically a recipe.  

Keep the movement recipe simple:

Find an effective training system and practice it relentlessly.

Everything works… for a little while.  Literally everything.  Some programs are more effective than others, but people who commit themselves to any one system are going to see results from their effort.  If you’re not getting results, it’s time for a self-audit to identify what’s missing.  Chances are high the audit will reveal it’s something you’re not doing, or in some instances, not doing, that’s holding you back.

Allow me to rant on the value of practice…

Practice until you are sick of practicing.  Then practice some more.  Had a bad training session?  Come back tomorrow and do it again.  Build

There is no substitute for hard work.  You’ve got to tear up your hands, sweat and have a willingness to be sore and humbled by the difficulty of the movements.  

Practice increases understanding, awareness and insight, motor control, strength/stability/endurance/power/mobility.

The “elite” become “elite” because they practice.  A lot of athletes who are household names across the world, practice 10x more than people think.  When you’re watching them on television, you’re seeing the finished product.  Thousands of hours of behind the scenes blood, sweat and tears prepared that athlete to execute on the main stage.

Exercise #1: QDR: Beginner Rotational Push-Ups

Now, while doing something is generally better than doing nothing, it is possible to practice incorrectly, which is why receiving feedback from a mentor or a teacher so valuable.  A teacher is an advanced practitioner.  The teacher, through experience, has acquired understanding, knowledge to share with students.

The best teachers maintain the humble student mentality despite being experts at their craft.

Exercise #2:  NDA Beginner Lateral Push Ups

With movement, more specifically body position, it is very easy and quite common to think that you are practicing technique correctly when you are not.

Improper body alignment or stopping short of a full range of motion are two extremely predictable situations that a teacher has the eye and understanding to verbally cue or re-position.  

Exercise #3: Beginner Hybrid Push-Ups


A person could slip any (or all) of these exercises into their current workouts and get the full benefit.  Remember, each of these exercises is a puzzle piece that makes up an entire program.  Progress will always be faster when working inside of a system, which is a well drawn out plan.

Exercise #4:  Dive Planks

Another problem the distanced onlooker has with Ido Portal’s current portfolio of work is there isn’t a clear and defined starting point for a beginner.  Beginner in my world means someone who’s unfamiliar with all of this stuff.  Not someone who’s banging out unsupported handstands, looking to move on to an iron cross.

 
Exercise #5: Push-Ups with Toe Touch

One option a beginner has is a tedious scavenger hunt through old information on Ido’s previous blog.  Before I started to assemble the puzzle pieces, this is what I did.  It sucked.

If sifting through hundreds of blog posts seems a bit tedious, there are other fantastic training programs similar to the Ido Portal Method approach. These books serve as a logical stepping stone into the Ido Portal Method movement philosophy.

Are they identical?  No.  Are they extremely similar?  Hell yes.  Will you get results?  Hell yes.  

Here are those alternative training systems, should you decide to investigate further…

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Animal Flow (Mike Fitch)

Overcoming Gravity (Steven Low)

Ultimate Athleticism (Max Shank)

Complete Calisthenics (Ashley Kalym)

A quick word about equipment…

Whether you’re a novice or advanced trainee, a simple equipment set up can catapult your progress and increase your enjoyment.  Actually wanting to workout because you enjoy the process is just as important as training intelligently.

For the beginner, gymnastics rings and parallettes are the best starting point and will provide big bang for your buck.  There are endless exercise progressions and variations using rings and parallettes.

L-Sit progressions, tuck and push-up variations, vertical and horizontal pulling exercises, hanging challenges just to name a few.

Nayoya Gymnastics Rings

The Nagoya Gymnastics Rings (Amazon, $30) currently have a 5-star rating and over 1,007 customer reviews.  You’re welcome to shop around, but for the price and quality, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better deal with similar quality.

Best-selling author and movement enthusiast Tim Ferriss has raved about these gymnastics rings after testing them himself in past newsletters and blog posts.  

Gymnastics rings are an unbeatable buy in my opinion.

For parallettes, I constructed mine from PVC using these exact instructions.  It was inexpensive, simple and fast to assemble.  They work fantastic.

If you aren’t in the mood to DIY, I recommend these parallettes.

Cheers to you.

Kyle