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 

Above is a snapshot of a “feeler” lizard crawl exercise.  The goal of this exercise was to feel out the demands of the lizard crawl, from a strength, mobility and stability perspective.  

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 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.)

Gymnastics strength training.

Mixing traditional strength training with body-weight based exercise is a potent combination.  Both are time-tested, proven strength building strategies essential to physical development. 

I do not believe traditional strength training (barbells, kettlebells, etc) is superior to bodyweight based training (gymnastics rings, single arm/leg, etc)

Both can serve a valuable purpose in a training program.

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.  

Taboo training methods such as rope climbing, moving odd-objects, locomotion, spinal waves and bodyweight-based training are now in the spotlight.  

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! 

There’s a realm of physical training that exists beyond fixating on sets, reps, weight lifted, and racing the clock to set new P.R.’s.  

Handstands, leg-less rope climbing, ground-based movement flow training packed with locomotion patterns and bodyweight movement patterns are here.  Our bodies are designed to move freely.   

 Flow

Ido Portal Method combines the best of many movement disciplines.

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’s a video example:

The ground conditioning (locomotion patterns, Capoiera, etc) combined with gymnastics/bodyweight/traditional strength training, fused with flexibility and mobility work is NOT NEW, but since it’s being repackaged and people are seeing incredible results, it’s definitely creating a paradigm shift in fitness.  

Baseline movement standards have risen.  “Fitness” less about who can build the best looking body or lift the most weight (both respectable pursuits), it’s about moving and how your body can perform when confronted with the known and unknown.

The shift is on and people are taking notice.

Nike has…

Ido Portal Nike

Instagram is loaded with people who’ve discovered the movement culture.  

Another example of Integration…

Integration builds on the physical preparation from isolation training.  

Pre-planned movement sequences make up part of the Integration phase.  This is similar to a dancer demonstrating a choreographed routine.  Just because the routine has been practiced for months doesn’t make it any easier to execute.  

I’ve watched the “Locomotion Research” video 50+ times.  Watching someone move like water is inspiring.  The movement sequences demonstrated in the video are deceptively difficult.  

Ground-based locomotion is a multi-planar movement requiring a level of body awareness, joint range of motion and on again/off again body tension most people rarely practice.  A lot of it is quadrupedal, performed with hand and feet in contact with the floor. 

Again, I’m talking about scenario where it’s bodyweight versus gravity using various dynamic patterns (crawling, twisting, turning, balancing, etc).  Many of these patterns are animal-like.

On first exposure, people are often quickly humbled by the amount of mobilityvand strength needed for locomotion patterns.  You’ll be sore in the days after.

I’ve found variations of the Lizard Crawl to bridge the gap between “lifting weights” and putting those gains toward challenging movement patterns.

While crawling, there’s a feeling of connectedness, awareness, task oriented challenge.  I don’t get the same feeling from squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, etc.

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 Portal doesn’t happen overnight.  This isn’t to say significant progress won’t be made, but like anything worthwhile, practice is king.  Gains may come fast, than slow, than fast, than halted, etc.   

I’ll spend less time describing the Improvisation phase of the Ido Portal Method because most folks need to focus on nailing down the elements of Isolation and Integration for a long, long time.  

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? 🙂

Isolation and Integration Progress

The Ido Portal Method represents an incredible shift with how we view and define fitness.  

Humans are made 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.  

It’s important to clarify that traditional physical fitness modalities aren’t obsolete.  Nor should they be.  

A person must spend a great deal of time gaining ground in the Isolation phase,  grooving technique, building strength, improving joint control throughout a range of motion.  

Hammering away on the basics (Isolation exercises, squats, pulling, etc) is fundamental to progress.  Further down in this article I’ve shared two training programs that will bring a person very close the foundational work needed to progress through the Ido Portal Method.  

At the end of the day, a stronger, more stable, more mobile, more resilient body makes for a more useful human.  A life lived through movement can be an exhilarating life.  

Training Programs Similar to Ido Portal Method

Several years ago, I started looking for alternatives to the Ido Portal Method because nothing was being offered through Ido’s web store link.  It seemed like there were plans to create a product, but ultimately it never came to be.  

Here are two programs I found:

Both programs fuse elements of the Ido Portal Method.  

Animal Flow is teaches ground based movement, flow work and establishing a fluency with a variety of locomotion patterns.  

Global Bodyweight Training reinforces the importance strength training, which is vital for performance and long-term health.

Here’s an overview of each…

Animal Flow

Screen Shot 2017-06-02 at 6.43.52 AM

Animal Flow is a ground-based bodyweight training system that closely parallels a lot of the locomotion patterns and flow work found in Ido Portal Method.   

Locomotion consists mainly of quadrupedal ground-based exercises like crawling (Lizard Crawl, etc), switches, transitions, etc… and you’ll find a ton of floor work inside of
Animal Flow.  

Integrating Animal Flow into my own workout regimen has been a game changer.  

Flow training broke the monotony of traditional lifting and brought me back to natural movement, free of equipment, just me, my thoughts, my bodyweight and the floor.  

It restored the creative side of moving and put the spotlight on my lack of body awareness in space, mobility and strength.  

Depending on how I structure Animal Flow for the day, it’s also been great for strength-endurance work.  

Animal Flow is loaded with exercise progressions.  

Novice or advanced, it doesn’t matter.  Animal Flow provides exercise progressions for all movement levels, all of the way up to movement mastery.    

Animal Flow’s introduction to ground based movement begins with pre-planned movement sequences, very similar to Ido Portal Method.

Crawling patterns, switches and transitions are all worked in isolation first, integrated into flowing sequences, and later fused into improvised flow workouts.

Similar to Ido Portal Method, Animal Flow combines ideas from many different movement disciplines (parkour, capoeira, yoga, gymnastics, etc) to create a hybrid system of movement.  

The tempo of exercises and workouts can be manipulated to elicit a cardio-strength training effect or a dynamic yoga-like experience.

I’ve played around with adjusting the tempo, exercise variations and even brought Animal Flow based exercises into cardio based work capacity circuits for conditioning.   

My Experience with Animal Flow

I stumbled onto Animal Flow not long after finding The Ido Portal Method.  At the time, I wanted to know what was beyond lift weights, adding weight, etc.  

Ground-based conditioning, free of equipment, leveraging bodyweight control 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.  

I started with the basics… Beast, Crab, and Scorpions.


The first few sessions sucked.  I sucked.  I felt uncoordinated, lost in space and frustrated with how choppy movement was.  It seems like it should be “easy”. 

Notably, my spine was SUPER STIFF from years of “bracing”, “rigid neutral spine”, stability training, etc.   

It’s liberating (and fatiguing) to move around an open space for 20-30 minutes, varying the movement patterns, sequences and tempo.  

Again, the simplicity of Animal Flow is brilliant… it’s just your body and the floor.  No equipment needed.  

This article explains how I’ve woven Animal Flow into my workouts.

If you’d like to learn more Animal Flow, here’s the official website: Animal Flow

 

Global Bodyweight Training:  

Screen Shot 2017-12-11 at 6.12.15 AM

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

Bodyweight Athlete is a bodyweight based strength program designed to build premiere movement patterns, such as horizontal pushing, horizontal pulling, vertical pushing, single leg squats and progressive core training.

Bodyweight Athlete covers the following:

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

Improving performance in any or all of the movements listed above has great transfer into ground flow training and eventually, Improvised work.  

Earning higher level movement requires an constant pursuit of strength in basic bodyweight movement patterns.  Pressing, pulling, squatting, core strength and stability, etc.  Single arm and single leg work.  

Once I realized how potent effective bodyweight training can be, it changed my opinions on what it means to be “strong” and have bodyweight control.    

The workout design, exercise progressions and step-by-step tutorials make Bodyweight Athlete a great bodyweight-based program.    

   

The human body is adaptation machine.  The fact is you may struggle with many of these bodyweight movements early on.  In the beginning, only eccentric single arm push ups might manageable.  With consistent practice you’ll find yourself performing full range single arm push ups.  

Same goes for lower body and core drills.  The human body is an adaptation machine if you keep introducing progressive stress.  

Proper progression, consistent practice and willingness to put forth effort.  

Strength (like many athletic qualities) is built with…

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

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.  

Improving the basics of Isolation is often a missing link to building movement capacity.

Gaining strength in isolated chunks is essential to improving movement capacity.  

Global Bodyweight Training’s “Bodyweight Athlete” will set you back $150, but when considering the time you’d wasted trying to collect this info from random online sources to structure some sort of training plan, or the price of hiring an in person gymnastics coach, it’s not bad at all.  

 

Closing thoughts… 

Find a program and follow the details.  When movements, reps, sets, flows start to feel easy, move on to the next progression.  Celebrate your progress but don’t stay too long.  Set your sights on the next  challenge

Don’t be afraid to film yourself.  Take before and after videos to see the progress.  There are few things more motivating than to to see your movement (and your body) change.  It’s a highly personal experience and very rewarding.  You put in the work and you receive the reward.  

Speed bumps and stalls in progress are temporary, especially when following an effective training template. 

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.  Discipline.  

Above all else, keep moving and moving often.  Your movement capacity will expand to the degree you’re willing to move it.  Keep moving and your body will make you better at movement.  

On the flip side, your body will do the exact opposite if you don’t move.  You become an expert at not moving as the tissue lock up.  

Choose movement. 

Cheers to you.   

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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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Hand Walking/Crawling Exercises: Demanding More From Your Upper Body

Quick Tips

6 years ago I watched Jon Hinds strap his LifeLine Power Wheel to his feet and proceed to walk on his hands 100 yards down entire length of a football field.

I have to admit I thought the entire sequence was pretty badass.  The feat also seemed like something I could achieve… wrong.  It’s way harder than it looks.

The LifeLine Power Wheel boasts that it’s core activation is top notch, and that is supported with a study composed by CSU-Sacramento students.  The two other training tools that were compared to the Power Wheel were quite weak in my opinion (Ab Revolutionizer, ab straps).  

However, it appears that based on muscle activation (through surface electromyography (EMG), the Power Wheel performed extremely well.

When you watch YouTube videos, especially how-to exercise videos, it can be hard to find value in what the performer is showing you.  You watch it, roll your eyes and move on the the next suggested video.

I did exactly that with Jon’s hand walking video 6 years ago.

It’s a damn shame.

But, fast forward 6 years and I am an advocate spending more time loading the upper body via static/dynamic various of crawling, handstands and hand walking.  I think we need to stress our upper extremities in a similar fashion that we do our lower extremities.

Battling ropes are an example of a tool have added tremendous value to the average trainee’s tool box.  Battling rope drills are primarily executed in a standing position, involving timed (or rep based) work sets that are highly metabolic, recruit a ton of muscle for completion and train the upper body to produce repeated effort force in a way that is extremely unique.

But, battling rope drills don’t require our upper extremities to support the weight of our body.

Sure, the shoulder is not a load bearing like the hip or the knee, but we should be able to support and stabilize a percentage or even our entire body with our hands and arms.  Please don’t ask me to give “functional” examples of how drills such as handstands transfer over into real world activities until you yourself perform a series of 1-minute inverted holds yourself.

Doing so might make you feel like you like a weakling whether you are an avid exerciser or not.  I sure did.

—> What can you attribute to the difficulty of a hand walking/crawling/stands?

New stimulus?  Yes.  Very challenging regardless?  Absolutely, every single time.

The average workout just doesn’t stress the upper body in the same way that it tends to stress the lower body.  It makes sense since humans are bipedals.  Keeping our lower extremities strong, mobile, stable, and capable of sustained and high level repeated physical effort serves us very well.

But we need to be strong, stable and mobile movers in many different positions, not just with walking and running.

Hand walking, crawling, handstands and other upper body support drills stress the upper body much differently than push ups, overhead pressing, Turkish Get-Ups.  In the past, most hand walking drills were exclusive to gymnasts and other tumblers.  It’s amazing that it has taken so long for this type of training to leak out to the general population.

But, it’s here now and we need to leverage it.  It’s a tool (or maybe a strategy is a better description), and like all training tools, it serves a purpose in our physical development.

Handstands.  I have been a huge fan of hand walking and crawling for years, but have more recently begun to see amazing value in practicing handstands.  Simply kicking your feet up to a wall and holding that position with assisted support from your feet is extremely challenging and beneficial for overall physical improvement.

Ido Portal Handstand

Try it for yourself.  Go.  Now.  Try it.

It feels unnatural to support yourself vertically and I believe this is a good thing (unless you are experiencing pain).  You’re acclimating yourself to a new movement skill.  I am all about safety in training because it keeps us moving for life, but exploring uncharted territories of movement will bring you back to your childhood roots, where exploring is encouraged and crucial for overall development.

Fast forward to our adult years.  People who are hesitant to participate in certain physical tasks haven’t exposed themselves to that stimulus before.  They haven’t explored, so the movement seems risky, difficult or in some cases unfathomable.

Much of this handstand talk is probably coming from Ido Portal’s training philosophy, which is fine because I love the tenacity that Ido is bringing to the movement community.  He doesn’t dabble with movement, he is movement.  That’s pretty cool.  Devoting your life’s work to becoming the best mover possible, and then teaching the progressions on how to get to that level to others, is pretty amazing when you think about it.

Kudos to Ido Portal.

In my own training, I have divided my hand walking/crawling into two different categories:

  • Horizontal walking/crawling
  • Vertical walking/crawling

Both of these have two sub-categories that can be broken down even further:

  • Static (not moving)
  • Dynamic (moving)

I haven’t felt the need to progress any further than the bulleted points to be honest.  Hand walking/crawling is a supplement to my current training regimen, not the entire training regimen itself.  It’s a skill that I am looking to develop starting from ground zero.  The decision to keep hand walking/crawling as a supplement to the whole is based on my current goals.

My warm-ups have proven to be prime time for practicing and experimenting with various progressions of hand walking/crawling.  80% of the time I am crawling, which is what I would consider to be a horizontal-dynamic drill.  Something like this…

If you slow down while performing a basic bear crawl and do it properly, you may notice that you aren’t as connected as you thought you were.  Timing and an upper/lower body connectedness are two main keys to crawling properly.  The core serves as the conduit between the upper and lower body.  You’ll also notice that crawling isn’t as easy as it looks, as it can be extremely taxing even at shorter distances.

If you’re looking for a core workout, start crawling.  Start with a basic static hold.  You’ll find that  supporting yourself in this position activates your torso musculature like the 4th of July.  Progress to dynamic crawling slowly, working on the the timing of your opposite hand/foot.  Again, feel the burn in your stomach.

Here is Dewey Nielsen working through the ladder of crawling progressions…

—> Why should you incorporate more crawling and hand walking into your training?

1)  It’s fun.

I never thought that I would tout “it’s fun” as the top reason for crawling and hand-walking, but it really is.  Both provide a unique challenge that we can look forward to.  Pursuing specific goals in your training will keep the fire going in your belly.  Otherwise, it’s easy to begin flaking out on training.

I have recently dropped a few barriers with regard to my viewpoints on training, and what it means to “workout”.  For sometime, I felt unfulfilled in my workouts.  It seemed there was a piece that was missing.  I felt like a robot going through the motions.  Start a set, do the reps at a particular tempo using a particular weight, stop, rest, rinse, repeat.  It was nauseating.

Crawling and hand-walks scratched that itch.  Now intentionally incorporate warm-ups packed with plenty of crawling and hand walks.  It’s open new doors for me as I know it will for you.

2)  Loading the upper extremities uniquely

Moving yourself around using your hands/arms is a new training stimulus for many.  Even holding yourself against a wall for a brief period of time puts a valuable stress on your upper body to support the weight of your body.

3)  Balance

Horizontal or vertical crawling/walking are activities that require constant body correction.  Reflexive stability is a hot topic right now, and crawling/walking works reflexive stability nicely.  Keeping the hands connected to Mother Earth is advantageous, creating a closed-chain training scenario.  Crawling is both simple and more complicated than we think, especially when we realize how dysfunctional we have become from our lack of movement.  Holding a wall supported handstand requires stability, strength and balance.  A free-stranding handstand is the perfect expression of balance.

4)  Connecting the core

Not six-pack abs.  Chasing six pack abs should be furthest down on most people’s list.  The torso musculature’s main job is to protect the spine.  Our core is supposed to activate when it senses that the spine might be in jeopardy.  Our torso lights up (activates) to keep our bodies stabile and in control during these movements.  Lightly palpate (touch) your stomach while in the assumed basic bear crawl position, tell me what you feel.

5)  Primal movement

We had to crawl before we could walk.  Crawling isn’t a fitness progression, it’s a human life progression.  Regressing back to crawling can help to restore lost movement patterns from which we can build a bulletproof body.  The body’s wires can easily become crossed, don’t make the mistake of blowing a fuse by skipping the crawling section of the progression book.

6)  Low impact

Crazy is the craze right now.  Extreme, hardcore, tenacity and intensity!  But not everyone wants crazy workouts, and crawling fits the bill nicely for those who seek a bodyweight challenge without the risk of injury.  Although it’s possible to hurt yourself doing just about anything, crawling/handwalks are extremely low on the injury potential ladder.  Your joints will applaud your choice.

7)  Movement

To take an unofficial idea from Ido Portal’s training philosophy…  Just start f’ing move people.  Stop over thinking it and engage in full fledged movement.  Explore what your body can do in space.  If you’re embarrassed to do it in the public gym, do it behind closed doors in your basement or garage.  As I have said before, movement is the benefit of moving.  So keep moving every which way.  Caution… be prepared to be humbled at first… you might need to lubricate your joints and blow off the cobwebs for a few sessions before it starts flowing and feeling natural.

So there you go, the most un-organized 1600+ word article ever written on crawling/handwalking.

Stay tuned for how to get started with crawling/walking and where to slip it into workouts…

 

 

Cheers to exploring the upper body’s ability to move!

KG