Home Workouts! Bodyweight Flow to Challenge Balance, Mobility and Endurance

Motion

Bodyweight training can (and probably should) be the foundation of any home workout.

No matter where you go, what equipment is or isn’t available, bodyweight based exercise is a card that can be ALWAYS be played.

There many ways to design and organize a bodyweight workout.  

Varying the tempo, joint range of motion, training on one leg, changing levels, balancing, transitions between exercises are all ways to keep bodyweight training fresh and effective.

Today’s workout is non-traditional, imagine that. 

If Yoga, locomotion, and calisthenics got together, partied and made a baby, this flow would be the result.

Flow training is like a more dynamic form of Yoga.  

I find myself sharing a lot of slow-tempo movements and flow sequences on YouTube and Instagram.  

Subconsciously, it might be a knee-jerk reaction to counterbalance all of the high-intensity training videos out there.  

Removing momentum from movements can reveal strengths and weaknesses with regard to what positions and motions you own versus what you don’t.  

Here’s the bodyweight flow:

This flow is designed to be mirrored on the right and left side and can be performed as a warm-up or as the workout itself.  Changing legs on the single-leg squat will keep you alternating sides. 

If you choose to use it as a workout, set a timer and keep working for the duration non-stop.  

Aim for 20 minutes.  If you get 20 minutes, go to 25 minutes, 30 minutes, etc.  

You’ll be exhausted (in a positive way) moving like this for long periods, and it might be an eye-opening shift away from high-intensity training.  

Muscles will fatigue and heart rate will elevate, even though you’re moving slow and steady.  

This flow is low-impact on the joints but does require a decent amount of joint mobility. 

Focus on momentum free movement.  

Especially with the modified hip CARs (controlled articular rotations).  Do your best to ONLY articulate the hip joint without changing posture to do so.  Obviously, in the video, I’m moving elsewhere but the goal is to keep the movement at the hip.

CARs are incredible for joint health, especially the hips which are supposed super mobile, but oftentimes aren’t.

Most people lack mobility at key joints like the hip, which forces other joints to try and pick up the slack, but so commonly ends up creating greater issues (aches, pains, injury).  

MyDailyMobility.com is a really good follow along resource to keep up with daily mobility work.  The guys upload new workouts all the time.  Last time I checked they had 5 months’ worth of workouts for customers.

Similar to resistance training (muscle) and cardio (endurance), mobility must be practiced consistently for maintenance and improvement.

Use it or lose it.

[You can see me lose balance returning to the single-leg stance.  I could have reshot the video and uploaded a perfect rep, but I decided to keep the original because this flow will test your balance.]

After the single-leg deadlift (Warrior 3 to the Yoga peeps) descending to the floor gracefully is the next order of business.  While this flow is controlled, learning how to fall is a skill people could really benefit from, especially older folks.  

Lowering down to the floor stress your pushing muscles and core.  You’re basically hitting the brakes on the way down, and stepping on the gas to stand back up.  

Lastly, expect the final move to make you cramp at the hips.  It’s aggressive.  Squat down, lift the hovering leg as high as possible and REACH.  

Find the floor, transition through the middle and get deep into the Cossack squat.  

Flow completed.  

Stand up and start over.  

Movement sequences like this are perfect for a home workout.  

No equipment is needed, it’s just bodyweight, balance, expressing strength and mobility while flowing into and out of various body positions.  

🤔 Want to make this flow harder?  Add a weight vest,slow down the tempo ever more or speed up the tempo and move quicker.  

👉 Make sure to check out more M(EAUX)TION fitness content on Instagram and YouTube.  

14 Exercise Total Body Warm-Up Routine

Motion

Before the workout, there is a warm-up.  

Warm-ups are an INCREDIBLE 15-20 minutes to make mobility gains, nourish joints, rep out isolated movements/activation drills, playfully engage in movement sequence or explore other movements that peak one’s curiosity.  

I used to dread warming up before workouts, as most people probably do.  

Warming up seemed like a barrier to the productive section of the workout.  

A period of time where I’d swing my arms around a little bit, bounce on your toes, a few neck rolls, get my hype playlist dialed in and throw a few shadow punches.

This used to be me.  

I’d drudge through a smattering of hand-selected, mindless dynamic stretches, mini band walks to “wake up” the glutes, and finish strong by mobilizing the ankles and T-Spine.  

I elevated my heart rate, initiated a sweat and feel focused, so the warm-up boxes must all have checkmarks ✅, right?  

In my mind, the answer to that question was, “Boxes check, good to go.  Moving on to the sexy part of the workout.  Exertion.”

Re-Establish the Purpose of the Warm-Up

People generally think of warm-ups as a stimulus to awaken and prime the body for more aggressive exercise, be it resistance training or cardio conditioning.  

This isn’t the wrong way to view things by any means.  Elevating the heart rate and increased body temperature is still important.

But the warm-up can serve as a vehicle to make incremental (valuable) gains in other areas.  Mobility, movement transitions, balance, coordination, etc.  

The problem, rather a common perception, is that investing time in a progressive warm-up seems like a waste of time.  

No muscle pump?  It must be a waste of time.

Lungs not burning?  Surely time is being wasted.

“Let’s get this over boring-ass sh*t over with so I can start making my gaaaiiinnnzzzz”.

For clarification, “Gainz” generally describes the usuals for most people:

  •  Fat loss 
  •  Muscle or strength gain
  •  Losing weight 
  •  General fitness improvement
  •  Big bouncing pecs, softball-sized biceps, and curvy butts, etc. 

I think we can do better with our pre-workout warm-up routines. 

We can do this by integrating joint mobility training, moving limbs through disadvantaged or strict patterns of motion, movement exploration/play, flow sequencing, transitions, etc.  

Today, it’s really hard to see where my warm-up stops and the workout begins.

The days of twirling arm and leg swings are long gone.  I’ve traded them for slow and controlled mobility drills, where I attempt to express the true joint range of motion I have ownership over, and fighting to earn and expand that gradually.

Rather than flailing my arms around in circles for 10 reps and calling it good, I’ll crush a tennis ball and draw the largest possible circle with my fist (from front to back) doing my best to stay avoid moving body parts to draw that circle.   

These mobility drills involve articulating joints through a maximum controlled range motion.  It’s simple, but not easy.  Each repetition is painfully slow.  You can find a lot of these drills on my YouTube page.  

Functional Range Conditioning refers to these joint nourishing exercises as CARs (controlled articular rotations).  

I also like to get on the floor and move.  

Twisting, turning, reaching, flexing/extending, squatting, lunging, blending pushing movements and rotation movements, crawling, changing levels, tossing, throwing, etc.

5-10 minutes are allocated to getting lost in bodyweight-based groundwork.

Some workouts, I’ll include a wood plyo box or other pieces of equipment, but moving with bodyweight through an open space remains the foundation.

Here are a few other things I like to practice during the warm-up:

  • Mobility techniques
    • Kinstretch
    • Gymnastics drills
    • Spinal Waves
    • Wood dowel training 
  • Improvised ground-based movement
  • Exploring new exercises, methods, and techniques
    • Macebell training
    • Weck Method drills (Coiling, RMT rope drills, etc)
    • Hybrid kettelbell exercises
      • Turkish Get Up variations
      • Swing variations
      • Hand-to-hand exercises 
    • New Bodyweight Movements
      • Sissy Squats
      • Dragon Squats
      • Task-Based Challenges
      • Legless Rope Climbs
      • Parallette Bar drills 

Total Body Pre-Workout Preparation

A while back, I uploaded a YouTube video demonstrating 14 different warm-up exercises to prepare the entire body for a workout. 

Here is the video…

Exercise order:

1.  Shoulder CARs

2.  Spine CARs

3.  Hip CARs

4.  Dowel Assisted Sissy Squats

5.  90/90 Series (transfers, lift offs, hovers, etc)

6.  Prone Swimmers Hovers

7.  Bodyweight Squats

8.  Bodyweight Lunges

9.  Bodyweight Push-Ups

10.  Side Kick Throughs

11.  Crab Reach

12.  Back Bridge

13.  Scorpion Reach

14.  Cossack Squat w/ Horse Stance Pause

Take notice of all of the joint articulations, slow tempo movement of arms and legs through challenging patterns, bodyweight exercises and movement combinations. 

It’s all there. 

Basic joint mobility work, ground-based conditioning, and exploratory movement training can really have a significant impact on your movement capacity, joint health, and performance.  

In time, movements that once plagued you or simply felt impossible, begin to feel very achievable.  Joints feel buttery.  Your body is changing.  Adapting to the stimulus. 

If you’re training 4-5 days per week, sectioning off 15-20 minutes to warm up with a few of the exercises featured in the video can add 60+ minutes of unique training to your regularly scheduled workout regimen. 

This adds up.  

Daily, the full-body approach to warming up is my personal preference.  Even if the day’s workout is mostly upper body, I still deliver a stimulus to the hips, knees and ankle joints.  

Conducting total body maintenance has made my body feel better at 35 years old then I did when I was supposedly at my “peak physical condition” in college.  

Nothing against people who opt for upper and lower body splits, but I prefer a daily micro-dose of joint articulations and full range movement.  

Find what works best for you.

It might not be what works best for me… and that is ok.  

How long should a warm-up be?

Working through 14 exercises generally takes 15-20 minutes, depending on reps and tempo per exercise.    

Should it always take 15-20 minutes?  

No.  Starting out, expect it to take longer because you won’t know what the hell you’re doing.  

Time will decrease as you become more familiar and waste less time setting up.      

All this being said, the more volume with most of these exercises, the merrier.  

How many reps per exercise?

In the video, I demonstrate 2-3 reps per exercise.  

I reduced the reps to keep the video moving along and lower the boredom factor.  Plus, uploading a 20+ minute video to YouTube can be full of problems.

Increase the reps to 8-10 per side for each exercise. 

Progress through all 14 exercises, one after the other, non-stop until the end. 

Of course, pause and rest as needed, but don’t waste too much time.  

Keep the show moving. 

Reminder… 

This warm-up shows 14 different exercises.  

Only 14.  There’s a mountain of other effective warm-up exercises not shown in this video.  

I simply wanted to share an example of a total body warm-up routine. 

There are many other incredible mobility drills, activations, locomotion exercises and ground-based movements not included in the video.

A total body warm-up can be organized a thousand different ways.  

Should all warm-ups look like this?

They don’t have to.  

Some days my pre-workout build-up consists of jumping rope for a few minutes paired up with crawling.  Other days I’m in the mood for ground flow, swinging kettlebells, rolling around on the floor, wall assisted handstands, etc.  

I like to mix it up.  

It doesn’t always follow this 14 exercise recipe.

On days where I am engaging in a long slow cardio session, I’ll climb on my air bike and ride.  No warm-up at all.  

The message of this post is to audit your current warm-up routine and observe if you’re breezing through a below-average pre-workout warm routine.  

Are you undervaluing warm-up time?  Is there room for improvement?

I’d bet there is.  

I used to overlook my warm-ups, and I’d guess a lot are doing the same.  

Time is a valuable commodity and goal achievement is important.  

Warming up with greater purpose can help to accelerate the time it takes to reach physical goals, keep your body feeling good and leverage your time in the gym.     

 

 

Cheers to getting after the warm-up, 

Kyle 

 

Locomotion| The Weighted Lizard Crawl

Motion

The lizard crawl is a total body locomotion pattern, made popular by Ido Portal.  

As great as lizard crawl exercise (bodyweight only) is, there are simple ways to make it harder if you’re interested, and that’s what this post is about.

Crawling exercises can be progressed similarly to a squat, deadlift, bench press or any other traditional resistance exercise. 

The key is increasing the challenge somewhere, somehow.  Make it harder.  

Progressive overload (adding weight) is a key strategy to continue building fitness, especially strength.  It keeps you in progress mode. 

Exposing the body to progressively greater demands (movement complexity, load, etc) is a pathway to build strength and mitigate injury.

Weak bodies seem to be at a higher risk for injury.

If a given stress overloads tissues beyond their capacity, injury often results.

This is an over-detailed article about my experience adding weight to the infamous lizard crawl, the “king” of locomotion training. 

Progressive Overload

Know your options.

Conventional methods of progression include:  

  •  Add resistance
  •  Add repetitions
  •  Increase training frequency
  •  Increase volume (sets x reps x resistance)
  •  Decrease rest periods 

Halts in progress require a quick audit and a few simple decisions. 

Training the same movements with the same weight, time under tension, reps/sets, etc… will yield the exact same results.

And if this seems like common sense, please considered common sense is not always so common.  

Adding more weight to a lift, movement or locomotion pattern is not ALWAYS the answer, but more often than not, it is a solid solution to many of the problems people encounter in their training.

Don’t be afraid to increase the load, incrementally and intelligently.  

As highlighted in the title of this blog post, I chose to add weight to the lizard crawl as the mechanism of progressive overload.

From sloppy to strong…

When I finally decided to attack the lizard crawl pattern, adding weight was the last thing on my mind. 

Early on, even simple crawling patterns exposed my sloppy technique, lack of endurance and heavy-handed/footedness.

Crawling short distances (15-20 yards) wore me out quick.  It was humbling.  I felt weak. My story is similar to others I’ve heard and read about across the internet. A strong guy in traditional lifts who could not move well on the ground without weight.

Strict crawling drills crushed me.  Moving naturally with detailed precision is HARD. 

I experienced a pretty dramatic change in movement quality by practicing basic crawling patterns like Beast Crawls (forward, back, and lateral) and Bear Walks.  

I’d section off 10-15 minutes of EACH workout for crawling practice, and I still do to this day.

Gains with the basic locomotion patterns evolved into disadvantaged crawling in low positions. 

With near daily practice, I became extremely efficient with lizard crawling.  My body acclimated and now understands the demands.  Adaptation is a beautiful thing.   If you want something in the gym, attack the shit out of it.  Be relentless.  

Crawling distances increased, tempo and pattern variations were added along with introducing crawling backward.  

I reached a point where adding more volume became a time suck and borderline ineffective.

Lizard crawling requires a low-to-the-floor body position, aggressive joint angles and a constant on/off body tension from head to toe.  The upper body and core demands are intense.  Plus, it’s easy to get twisted up with hand and foot placement.  

The lizard crawl pattern connects traditional strength work with movements that exist in between.  The transitions, gracefulness, soft interactions with the floor, twisting, turning, propelling the body from point A to point B.  

The Weighted Lizard Crawl


I have to believe people have added weight this pattern before the writing of this blog post.  If not, I am a visionary

Regardless, I was humbled by this movement progression.  

I added a 40lb weight vest and a pair of 10lb ankle weights around each leg. A simple weight vest is a very natural tactic to add weight to movements while keeping the hands free.

The weight vest loaded the upper body/torso, while the ankle weights challenged the lower body.  Adding the ankle weights is a simple way to load the articulating motion of the hips.  

This articulating motion is similar to hip CARs, but a bit less isolated and strict.

When weight increased with any exercise, generally reps/sets, duration, time under tension need some relief.  Usually, it’s just for a short time to give the body an opportunity to execute quality work, avoid unnecessary training injuries and adapt to the stress.

Keeping all training variables the same would be too aggressive and unmanageable. 

Factoring this in, once I added the weight, I immediately decreased the distance of the crawl and increased rest periods.  

Previously, my average bodyweight lizard crawl distance was around 40 yards, broken up into a 10-yard crawl forward/10 yard crawl backward (twice down and back).  

For the weighted lizard crawl, I more than cut that distance in half, crawling roughly 10 yards (5 yards forward and backward).  On this day, I worked a total of 6 sets.  It was enough to leave soreness in the days afterward.

I’d recommend anywhere from 5-8 sets of 10-15 yards of a technique-driven lizard crawling. 

As I mentioned before, adding load commonly means taking longer rest periods in between efforts.  I wasn’t super detailed on the rest periods, but they were long enough to feel damn fresh.  

There is absolutely no need to rush this.  Do it right, or don’t do it at all. 

Equipment Used

 10 lb Valeo Ankle Weights 

 MIR Short Weight Vest

There are plenty of weight vest brands to choose from, but MIR is a trusted name and I couldn’t be happier with my MIR weight vest.  It’s durable and the short version is awesome.

Arguably, ankle weights are, well, ankle weights.  

Although I did get a nice product referral for the Valeo ankle weights from a great trainer in Philadelphia.  My only advice here is to size up and buy heavier than you’d think. Also, buy a set that has adjustability (ability to remove the weights).  You can always lighten them up if needed, but it’s nice to have heavy ankle weights if needed.  

So, I added weight, should you?

The crappy (but honest) answer is, maybe or maybe not.  It depends on your experience and goals.

Have you played around with increasing distance and tempo using bodyweight only?  

If not, start there.

Initially, leverage basic lizard crawl variations.  Gradually add distance and play around with tempo.

Practice lizard crawl press ups, modified range of motion crawls.  Place emphasis on body position, technique, timing, and mechanics.   

Aim for efficiency.  

People like to knock efficiency in training, but the fact is being inefficient at everything wastes precious energy.  At some point, you want the work being performed to feel natural. 

When it’s natural and fully integrated into your body, it’s useable in the real world.

Adding load to the lizard crawl, in my opinion, increases the challenge exponentially.  Far beyond anything I’d experienced before.

Once you’ve added weight, expect the silky smooth crawling technique disappear.  

You’re fully engaged in a hybrid variation of resistance training now.  Ha.  

Muscles and joints will need some time to fully understand the stimulus and adapt to it. 

Just getting started with crawling?

If you’ve not yet added crawling exercises (even the basics) to your workouts, you must.  Just try it.  There’s nothing to lose and everything to gain.  Don’t make the mistake of marrying any particular tool or method.  Explore everything and integrate what’s useful.   

I talk about crawling patterns often.  Progressive crawling is excellent for building natural movement strength, endurance, and skill.  If you’re an avid lifter, add 5-10 minutes of crawling to your warm up.

Unsure where to start with crawling?  

Animal Flow and my YouTube channel are great resources to get exposure to crawling.  Anyone interested in ground-based movement training of any kind is referred to Animal Flow.  

My YouTube channel is LOADED with videos.  There’s plenty to watch, not a ton of boring commentary and I am always available for questions and conversation.  Simply enter the “crawling” into the search bar. 

Closing Thoughts…

The purpose of this article is to introduce people to one simple strategy of increasing the difficulty of the lizard crawl. 

Start with bodyweight based lizard crawl variations.

Don’t be a dumbass.   

Earn tougher movement progressions by practicing the basics.  

I referenced several good resources above, make sure you check those out.    

Lastly, leave a note on your experience, I love hearing from people.  

 

 

Cheers, 

Kyle 

Beginner Flow Training: 5 Challenging Bodyweight Exercise Combinations

Motion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enough already.

Here are 5 bodyweight based movement combinations worth trying… 

#1  Parallete Bar Pass Through to L-Sit

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

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

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

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

 

#2  High Bridge Rotation to Lizard Crawl

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  Alligator Crawl

  Handslide Lizard Crawl 

  Elbow Crawl

 

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

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

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

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

 

#4  Lunge to Pistol Squat Flow

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

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

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

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

 

#5  Lizard Crawl + Low Scorpion 


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

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

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

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

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

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

Got all that?  Just watch the video… hahaha. 

 

Closing it out.. 

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

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

 

 

Cheers to your efforts,

Kyle 

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 

Benefits of the Crab Reach Exercise

Motion

The Crab Reach is a simple ground-based exercise a lot of benefits. 

Benefits of the Animal Flow Crab Reach

The benefits of the Crab Reach are many, but here are some notables…

  • Posterior chain activation and hip extension
  • Active Thoracic Mobility
  • Anterior body stretch (hip flexors, quads, torso)
  • Shoulder stability/endurance emphasis in loaded shoulder
  • Trunk rotation
  • Right and Left Side 
  • Low-impact

A Way to Combat Sitting Posture 

The Crab Reach is a great exercise to battle/off-set the negative effect long duration sitting. 

It’s not the only tool or the “best” tool, but a good one to implement on a regular basis.   

Reversing aches and pains caused by primarily long duration sitting requires dedication, discipline and volume.  There is no quick fix.  

A quick hip flexor stretch, thoracic mobilization and glute bridge is not going to cancel out 8+ hours of sitting in the same turtle-like, wound up position.  

Body restoration takes time, effort, consistency and volume.  Lots of repetitions, likely lots of time and an aggressive mindset.  Assuming you’re doing everything right, expect improvements over time.

Most people slump like a turtle while sitting.  Sitting like a slouchy turtle for 8-10 hours per day, 5 days per week isn’t good for our bodies.

We become the positions we use most.  

The Fight Against Turtle-ism

Actively working the Crab Reach exercise is the opposite of sitting. 

 Benefits of the Crab Reach:

  •  Recruits the posterior chain to drive the hips up into extension.
  •  Tilts the pelvis to a neutral position.
  •  Opens up the hip flexors.
  •  Actively extends the low and mid back.
  •  Demands torso muscles engage in rotation.
  •  Requires the supporting shoulder to stabilize the body. 
  •  Provides a diagonal stretch from one ship through the free reaching arm.
  •  Delivers a nice stretch to the hip flexors/quads.

The end range motion (the high position with arm reaching over the top) of the Crab Reach is an active position. 

You have to drive your feet into the ground, arch, reach and rotate to move into the high position of the crab reach.  

The active aspect of this drill makes it special.  

Many popular mobility and flexibility drills are passive. 

Static stretching is passive.  The muscle is lengthened (stretched), but the control over the new range of motion is not addressed.  We need to establish strength and stability at tend range to make it useable.  

The Crab Reach is active the entire way.  

Uncommon Movement Training

Traditional exercises need to be supplemented with multi-planar movements like the crab reach.   

Including an exercise into your program simply because it’s “uncommon”  may not seem like a strong enough reason to practice a new exercise pattern, but ongoing exposure to progressive movement patterns and positions is an effective strategy for training the Central Nervous System, improving movement IQ, capacity and confidence.  

The concept here is simple: if we do what we always did, we will get what we always got.  

To make yourself a better mover means exploring movement. 

So, when you’re body is craving an unrestricted, multi-planar approach to your next workout, feed it with some ground based conditioning.  

Practicing postures and movement patterns that are less common to daily life improves physical and mental confidence. 

Improving strength, mobility and stability in uncommon movements makes everyday exercises feel easy.  Performing basic tasks around the house or at work becomes more of a game.  

Rotation Training

When we look at the average person’s “workout of the day”, it’s generally packed with linear resistance training and cardio. 

The objective for those who find themselves stuck in a linear dominant training program, should consider adding some multi-planar movement into the mix.  

The crab reach is a multi-planar exercise.

Each rep moves the body through the Sagittal, Frontal and Transverse Planes all in one shot.  Multi-planar.  

Most workouts are lack rotation. 

People love squats, upper body pressing, jumping, pulling, deadlifting.  

These are linear exercises that do not involve rotation.  

Take a quick audit of your own training regimen. 

Are you twisting, turning, rotating on a regular basis? 

If not, integrating simple movements like the crab reach can fulfill the gap with rotation, effectively opening new doors to your movement training.  

Being a multi-planar exercise, every repetition activates the posterior chain and stretches the anterior body while reinforcing thoracic rotation, shoulder stability and breath.

Option for Use

Ground-based bodyweight movement is extremely versatile.   

In the spirit of keeping it simple, there are several ways to start practicing the crab reach:

  •  In the warm up
  •  Filler exercise during a lifting session
  •  As part of a flow sequence

Crab reach can be practiced in isolation or as a combination. 

I recommend practicing new movements in isolation to increase focus on technique. 

I believe isolating an exercise to better understand the mechanics and demands is best. 

It gives you an opportunity to “feel all of the feels”, paying attention to breath, tightness, weakness, stiffness, etc.  

Warming Up with the Crab Reach

Movement flow exercises are perfect for pre-workout warm ups. 

These movements are generally dynamic, full range of motion exercises that require movement into and out unique body positions, angles and tempo.  

As part of a warm up the Crab Reach is an effective, low impact and full range of motion exercise. 

Crab reach can serve as a valuable movement prep before exercises like deadlifts or  kettlebell swings.

Crab Reach as Part of the Workout

Positioning the Crab Reach as part of a Tri-Set is a great way to isolate and practice the exercise while staying active/productive during a strength training session. 

Here’s an example a simple Tri-Set:

Exercise A)  Front Squats

Exercise B)  Chin-Ups

Exercise C)  Crab Reach

Crab reach won’t take away from the energy needed to crush the front squats or chin ups.

Flow Training

Create a simple bodyweight flow circuit, emphasizing the Crab Reach periodically throughout the flow. 

Structure several exercises in a row. 

Start with two main exercises separated by a switch to keep it simple. 

The video above, “Side Kick Through + Underswitch + Crab Reach” is an example of a simple movement sequence.

For an added challenge, increase the number of exercises to 4, 5 or maybe 6.  Of course, doing this will make it more of a challenge to remember the sequence, but it will also challenge the body move through many different patterns. 

Adding more exercises to create longer flows is great for the mind-body connection. 

Whether you pre-program the sequence or improvise the flow, will likely depend on your movement IQ and knowledge of basic options (exercises, transitions between patterns, etc). 

The ultimate goal of movement training is improvisation.  This idea was plucked right out of the Ido Portal Method.  Ido Portal Method teaches movement using the following hierarchy: 

Isolation —> Integration —>  Improvisation

Following this operating system will give your workouts a new purpose. 

Reps/Sets/Time 

In the beginning, keep the reps low.  

6-8 reps per side is a good place to start.

Focus on a slow and controlled tempo through the fullest range of motion you can make happen.

After you are feeling good about the mechanics, increase the volume. 

Don’t be shy about bumping up the reps to 15-20 reps per side.  Setting a timer can be a nice option.  Alternating right and left for 2-5 minutes can free your mind from having to count reps. 

Crab Reach Exercise Variations and Combinations

Isolated Crab Reach

Side Kick Through + UnderSwitch + Crab Reach

Crab Reach + Spider Man Stretch (aka:  Elbow to Instep)

Slow and Controlled Improvised Movement Flow Workout

Summary…

  • Bodyweight ground-based movements are effective for building strength, mobility, endurance and movement IQ
  • Crab reach is a versatile exercise that can be performed anywhere and anytime.  
  • Benefits of the Crab reach include posterior chain activation, anterior body lengthening, thoracic mobility, body awareness in space.
  • The Crab reach is great include in warm ups, during the workout or as flow training.  
  • The Crab reach is an effective exercise to help mitigate aches/pains from sitting, restore function.

 

Movement 20XX

Recently, I made the decision to partner up with Eero Westerberg of Vahva Fitness to begin promoting his new movement program, Movement20XX.

Movement20XX is an incredible compliment to traditional resistance training, and ideal for training at home.

The movement curriculum is really similar to my own practice, which is why I recommend my readers see if it’s a good fit.  Exercises are progressive, challenging, unique, and scalable for the beginner all the way up to folks who are seeking movement mastery.   

Movement20XX is one of a small number of hand-picked online fitness programs I support. 

Interval Workout| Lizard Crawl + 500m Row

20 minute Workouts, Ido Portal, Workouts

Mixtaping different disciplines of fitness to create unique workouts is a hobby of mine lately.  

Yesterday, I found myself short on time.  I had roughly 20 minutes to make some workout magic happen.  Assessing the previous day’s workout, I decided on two modes of exercise:

  • The Lizard Crawl
  • Rowing

The goal:  total body training effect (in under 20 minutes)

Short burst workouts are a perfect solution to time-restricted days.  Days where I’m tight on time, but high on motivation.  “Short”… not be confused with “easy”.    

Generally, shortening a workout means the intensity gets cranked up to offset the decreased volume and duration.

Lizard Crawling is a locomotion pattern popularized by Ido Portal’s movement catalog.  

 

It involves crawling forward (or backward) in a low prone position, much lower than a traditional bear crawl.  The Lizard Crawl is a total-body exercise, well worth learning and working through the progressions.  

Most people will feel limited by their upper body strength when Lizard Crawling.  The strength needed in this particular range of motion may need some acclimation. 

That being said, there are plenty of Lizard Crawl variations to accommodate any skill level.

Here’s an example:


The Lizard Crawl, though graceful and rhythmic when performed by great movers, sucks the life out of you across even moderate distances.  It’s a very complex and demanding pattern.

Rowing, on the other hand, is, well, rowing.  

The rowing erg is beautiful in its simplicity,  yet brutal in its ability to break a person’s soul at higher intensities.  Though machine-based, rowing is one of those near total body activities that I cannot recommend enough. Rowing is primarily a posterior chain, upper body pull/lower body push action.

A quality rowing erg will cost you some cash, but across the long-term, it is well worth the investment.  

Turns out, the Lizard Crawl and rowing compliment each other perfectly.  

I’ve created workouts in the past using short distance Lizard Crawls and 250-meter row intervals, but never beyond that distance.  The 250-meter is a fantastic distance for an all out sprint.

Today I increased the challenge a bit, bumping the row up to 500-meters.

Here’s how the workout was structured…

Lizard Crawl for 20 yards

+

500 meter Row

  • Repeat for 6 rounds.  
  • Rest for 60-90 seconds in between each round.  

That’s it.  Two movements and roughly 18 minutes of time to work with.

Warm-up with something, anything.  A jump rope or some simple dynamic movements will work fine.  I do not advocate skipping warm-ups all of the time, this situation is unique, an outlier.

A cheetah doesn’t ask a Gazelle for a chance to warm-up before pursuing it for nearly a mile, it’s worth considering a human may not always have adequate time to warm-up.  

Many times, doing less things, but doing those things better makes for the best workouts.

Aesthetics and performance are built incrementally, piece by piece, workout by workout.   

Thoughts and Suggestions…

Find a pace on the rower a few levels below your personal best.  I aimed for a 1:35 min/sec pace for the 500-meter intervals, knowing that my best 500 meter was roughly 1:27 min/sec.

Why do this?  Because you will not be able to maintain a personal best pace for 500-meters across 6 rounds, with incomplete rest periods and lizard crawling before hopping on the rower.  Setting a challenging pace just below your best will get the training effect you’re after and allow room for progression in the future.

After standing up out of the rower, expect your heart rate to be sky-high.  60 seconds of rest will not feel long enough, and it shouldn’t.  It’s incomplete rest by design.  Use every second to collect yourself before the next round.  Walk around slowly, stay upright and slow your breathing.  

Keep in mind, a 500-meter row is not an easy distance to row on its own.  Adding pre-fatigue in the form of a Lizard Crawl will zap you.

When rest comes to an end, force yourself into the Lizard Crawl.  You’ll want to rest longer in later rounds but don’t.  Stay strict.  When rest is over, settle your breath and start crawling immediately.  

Anticipate the first few rounds of Lizard Crawling to feel great, followed by a steep drop off.  

If the full Lizard Crawl is too aggressive, scale it back.  Head over to my YouTube page and search “Lizard Crawl”.  You’ll find a bunch of different Lizard Crawl options I’ve played around with. 

Or, simply go with a crawling pattern in higher, more manageable body position, such as Beast (Animal Flow).  

If you found this post while surfing the inter-webs, thank you for stopping by.  

Do me a big favor and try this workout today, tomorrow or the next time you’re in a pinch for time.  

 

For more about Ido Portal and some his training methods, check out this post:

 

Cheers to you, 

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 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Best Exercises for Burning Stubborn Body Fat

fat loss

In the gym, accelerating the process of fat loss is simple.

But, like anything unfamiliar, how to go about achieving fat loss can be confusing from the outside looking in.  

What exercises should I choose?  How many sets/reps of each?  How much weight should I use?  How many days per week?  How long should the workout last?  

These are all great questions.  If you’re asking them, you’re on the right track.

In the gym, maximum metabolic disruption is the name of the game.  

In 30-45 minutes, you should be able to train nearly every muscle, priming it for fat loss and lean muscle layering.

Do more work in less time to create a global training effect.  

In some cases, you may do more work in the same amount of time, which is still a form of progress.

I tricked you, I’m sorry…

In a way, I tricked you into reading this article by including “best exercises” in the title.  

For that, I sincerely apologize.  But to be honest, saying one exercise is going to magically burn all the fat off your body is a complete lie.  

One exercise won’t do it.  

What we could say is some exercises are a much better choice for fat loss, and even going a bit further we could say the combination of several exercises in a workout session will give your body the best opportunity to eliminate unwanted fat.  

Generally speaking, multi-joint compound exercises get more muscles working together are better than isolated exercises which have only one joint moving and fewer muscles.  

Important thought:  The best fast loss exercises are also the best exercises for almost any fitness goal.  

Just as no single exercise is going to melt fat from your body, no single workout is going to burn all of the fat off your body.  

A series of smart workouts will accelerate the fat loss process.

It’s all about creating a training effect.

How can workouts help with fat loss?  

  • Burn calories at time of workout (thermic effect of exercise)
  • Increased calorie burn after workout (EPOC)
  • Build lean muscle (requires more calories to maintain itself)
  • Increase resting metabolic rate (60-80% of all calories are expended at rest)

How do we create a fat burning state in the gym?  

There are a few time-tested methods to jumpstart the fat burning process:

  •  Higher Intensity Interval Training (cardio conditioning)
  •  Multi-joint Resistance Training (muscle conditioning)
  •  Multi-Planar Ground-Based Movement (muscle and cardio)
  •  Be inefficient.
  •  The combination of all of the above.

High(er) Intensity Interval Training

“High” is going to vary from person to person.  What may be “high” for me might be too high for you, or vice versa.  Instead, I choose to refer to interval training as “high(er)”.  

For the purposes of this article, let’s refer to high intensity interval training as cardio dominant activities where you exert at intensities that causes your body to go into oxygen debt during the intense work sets.  

This type a training has a precise work:rest format that can be monitored by time or a heart rate monitor (beats per minute).   

Rowing, biking, running are amazing activities for interval training which have a higher emphasis on cardio conditioning.

Multi-Joint Resistance Training

Resistance training with BIG movements like squats, swings, pressing and pulling increases the thermic effect of activity (calories burned during exercise) and metabolic rate.  Resistance training also builds lean muscle which requires more energy to maintain and repair post-workout than fat tissue.  

Multi-Planar Ground-Based Movement

At risk of sound cliché, ground-based movement is the new kid on the block.  It’s a brilliant paradigm shift in how practice fitness, building movement capacity and improving strength and cardio.  

Ground-based movement is a very broad description for low position drills like crawling, rolling, bounding, hand balancing, yoga, etc.  Much of the modern ground-based movement training has been led by Ido Portal and Mike Fitch (creator of Animal Flow).

Inefficiency

The more inefficient you are at an exercise or series of exercises, the harder your body has to work to complete those exercises.  Muscles fatigue faster and more energy (calories) is expended doing the work.  

*** If you’re going to leverage inefficient exercise, make sure you have some kind of prior background experience with that exercise.  Don’t jump into a set of kettlebell swings midway through a workout if you’ve never swung a kettlebell.  This poses a high potential risk of injury.  Not worth it.  

Instead, re-visit exercises you haven’t included in your training sessions for a while.  You’ll still know how to execute exercise technique, but your body will have lost it’s efficiency.

Nutrition Scolding…

[No fat loss article would be complete without giving a head nod to importance of nutrition.  Creating a caloric deficit, eating mostly plants with adequate amounts of protein and hydration with low/zero calorie beverages (aka: water) is in fact the magic behind much of losing body fat.  

Keeping calorie expenditure higher than calorie intake, along with choosing nutrient-dense foods and beverages that will sustain your activity level and nourish your body post-exercise is the path to fat loss.]

Progressive Overload and Baseline Fitness Testing…

Progressive Overload is a foundational principle to all movement training.  

To help decide the appropriate amount of progressive overload needed for each exercise (and shape the structure of your workouts) it is important to establish a baseline of your movement capacity.  

A baseline fitness test gives you information (however painful of a reality it might be) on where you are starting from, so a plan can be organized to make future progress.

A baseline fitness test can be very simple:  

  • How many strict bodyweight push-ups, squats, lunges, chin-ups/pull-ups can you do?  
  • How long can you hold a front plank, side plank, dead hang from a bar?
  • How many burpees can you do in 60 seconds?
  • How far can you bear crawl before stopping?

Once you’ve got a baseline, you can pinpoint not only the exercises, but sets and reps, time under tension, rounds, rest periods and duration.  

Here are my picks for 10 best fat loss exercises…

Burpees (total body)


The burpee might be the single most hated exercise on this list, which why it deserves first mention. Burpees are a total body movement that combines a hip-hinge, plank, push-up, squat, and jump, all in one shot.  

Burpees are a logical choice for this list because they are a bodyweight exercise, which means you can do them anywhere and anytime.  

Workout challenge:  How fast can you complete 100 burpees?

Animal Crawling (ground-based total body)

I’d bet a lot of fat loss articles don’t include crawling as a valid form of exercise to burn fat, but it is.

Basic crawling variations like the bear, ape and crab are examples of beginner locomotion drills that will challenge your core and upper body endurance like little else.

Ground-based bodyweight workout programs like Animal Flow are built animal-based exercises, designed to reconnect your body’s natural ability to navigate movement on the floor.  

Even if you’re tight on space, find a way to include crawling in your next workout.  Over time, you’ll notice crawling more consistently will do wonders for increasing shoulder health, upper extremity endurance and integrated core control.  

If you want to dive into the world of ground-based movement, check out Animal Flow.   

Workout challenge:  Bear crawling work capacity (4 rounds)

  • Round 1:  Strict bear crawl as far as possible (measure by distance or time)
  • Round 2:  Rest 30 seconds and repeat for 3/4 distance or time.
  • Round 3:  Rest 30 second and repeat for 3/4 distance or time
  • Round 4:  Rest 30 seconds and repeat for 3/4 distance or time.

Turkish Get-Ups (total body)

Turkish Get-Ups (TGU’s) is a layered approach to moving from lying flat on your back to 

Go from lying on your back to standing as efficiently as possible… with weight in your hand.  In slang terms, this what a turkish get-up accomplishes.  

Inside of a turkish get-up, you’ve got many exercises:  cross-body diagonal abdominal crunches, static overhead weighted holds, lunges, windmills, hip lifts.  

A turkish get up is a movement sequence with many layers, all of which can be practiced on their own to enhance your TGU proficiency.  

Workout Challenge:  Complete 10 minutes of Turkish Get-Ups (continuous)

Kettlebell Snatches (ballistic total body)


Kettlebell snatch workouts are legendary for boosting conditioning and burning fat.  The ballistic nature of the snatches coupled with the large amount of muscles used makes the training effect incredible.

Even 1-2 minutes of aggressive snatches will leave you gasping.  The design of the kettlebell and the exercise technique of the snatch allows for a natural flow from rep to rep.  

Personally, I’ve rarely seen my heart rate climb as high as it does when snatching a kettlebell.  

This means a large amount of work can be done in a short amount of time.  

Workout Challenge:  Secret Service Snatch Test (SSST) 

Thrusters (total body)

Squat and press, squat and press, squat and press.  

“Thrusters” are the combination of a squat and an overhead press.  Fusing squats and presses together creates a massive training stimulus.  Thrusters are pure work, which no real-time to rest between each repetition.  

Thrusters can be performed using a variety of training tools:  kettlebells, barbells, sandbags or dumbbells.  All provide a slightly different look at the same exercise.

Workout Challenge:  Every minute on the minute for 10 minutes, complete 10 thrusters.

Kettlebell Swings (ballistic lower body pull)


Kettlebells by design, are naturally a great tool to burn fat.  

Similar to kettlebell snatches, there is a tremendous amount of muscle tension throughout the entire arc range of motion in a kettlebell swing.  Speed of repetition and muscles engagement create a training effect unlike any other fitness tool.  When the hips get involved in an exercise, it usually means a global training effect.  

Workout Challenge:  Complete 15 sec swings, 15 sec rest for 24 rounds (12 minutes)

Sandbag Squats (lower body push)

The sandbag is one of the most underrated training tools out there.  Unlike a barbell which has rigid structure, sandbags are constantly shifting and changing shape.  This requires your body to make constant adjustments to these shifts and shape in real-time.  Whether you’ve got 100lbs in a sandbag or 100lbs on a barbell, weight is weight.  But, I guarantee you a 100lb sandbag is going to feel a lot heavier than a 100lb barbell.  

Mix up how you hold the sandbag when squatting.  Bear hug, front rack, underarm hook and shouldering will challenge your body in very different ways.  

Workout Challenge:  Descending Sandbag Squats

  • Set #1:  Complete as many reps of sandbag squats as possible without rest.  
  • Set #2:  Rest 45 seconds, now complete half the reps of Set #1.
  • Set #3:  Rest 30 seconds, now complete half the reps of Set #2.
  • Set #4: Rest 15 seconds, now complete half the reps of Set #3.

Chin-Ups/Pull-Ups (upper body pull)


No fat loss article would be complete without mentioning vertical pulling exercises like chin-ups and pull-ups.  For many, these will be the most frustrating exercises on the list because they are frequently the weakest lifts on the list.

Exercise regression is the path to your first chin-up/pull-ups and exercise progression is the path to building on that achievement.  If you can’t yet execute a full range of motion chin-up/pull-ups, you’ve got a couple effective options:  decrease the weight being pulled or practice one phase of the exercise.  

Stretch band-assisted chin-ups/pull-ups will decrease the amount of weight you’re required to pull on each repetition, making the exercise more manageable.  Wrap the band around the bar overhead, then down around the shin of a flexed knee or way down around your foot.  

If don’t have a stretch band, you can still make gains by practicing one phase of the exercise, the eccentric or lowering phase.  Start at the top of the chin-up/pull-up and lower yourself to the bottom as slowly as possible.  Eccentrics are well-known for producing muscle soreness, you’ve been warned.  

Workout Challenge:  Perform a 1-Minute Chin-Up

Push-Up Variations (upper body push)

Push-ups are my choice for best upper body pushing exercise.  Pressing exercises can be split up into two categories:  vertical and horizontal.  Vertical pushing extends the arms overhead and horizontal pushing extends the arms out in front of the body.  

Push-ups can be done anywhere, anytime with no equipment.  The variations are seemingly limitless.  The basic traditional push-up is a fantastic choice for metabolic workouts, as it requires little thought and set-up, yet worthy training stimulus to the core and pushing muscles of the upper body. 

Workout Challenge:  Perform 15 push-ups every minute on the minute for 10 minutes (150 total reps)

Lunge Variations (lower body pull)


Lunges are lower body exercise to train primarily the hips, hamstrings and adductors.  

Lunging is unique because it has many variations.  You could lunge front to back, side to side, rotationally, explosively, moving across a distance, on an incline or decline, or stationary if space is limited.    

Adding external weight to a lunge will challenge the core and grip muscles.  External weight could be placed in several positions:  arms hanging at the sides, chest height in a racked position, arms extended overhead, resting on the shoulders or varied (one arm hanging down, the other supporting weight overhead)  

If you want to go hands-free and make lunging more natural, a weight vest is a great option.  

Being able to lunge successfully becomes more important as we age, to preserve and extend quality of life.  Most times we get up off the floor into a standing position, we are essentially performing a variation of a lunge.  

Splitting your stance (not to be mis-read as “splitting your pants”) reduces the width of your base of support which increases the instability.  L

Generally speaking, if you want to make a lower body exercise more challenging without adding weight, here is how you do it:

Option 1:  Narrow the distance of base of support (squats)

Option 2:  Stagger the base of support (lunge)

Option 3:  Stagger AND narrow the base of support (inline lunge)

Option 4:  Partial support (rear foot elevated split squats)

Option 5:  Unsupported Single leg base of support (single leg deadliest or pistol squat)

I know option 4 and 5 are not technically a lunges, but the point was to lay out a nice progression to follow.

Workout Challenge:  How far/long can you lunge walk with 15 lbs (females) or 30lb (males) in each hand?

High Plank Rows (upper body pull)

Rowing while supporting yourself in a high plank position is a humbling experience, particularly for your core muscles.  Dragon flags and toe-to-bar are hyped as being incredible core strength builders, but high plank rows may make you rethink core training altogether.  

Alternate each arm while rowing.  For added challenge, pause the motion when the hand reaches your side, lower slowly.  The body tension needed to perform this drill is incredible.  You’ve got to be rigid from head to heel, front side and back side.  

Workout Challenge:  Perform 20 repetitions of high plank rows on each arm.

Try the workout challenges!  

Most of the challenges require less than 15 minutes of your time, and will be a good eye opener to the possibilities.  The workout challenges can also serve as baseline numbers to assess progress down the road.

The training options are only limited by your creativity.  

Now you can mix and match these 10 exercise to create effective workouts.

How to create a fat loss workout?  

Choose one exercise from each of the following movement patterns:  

  1.  Upper body pull
  2.  Upper body push
  3.  Lower body pull 
  4.  Lower body push
  5.  Total Body or Core Exercise 

Hybrid movements like burpees or thrusters combine several movement patterns into one exercise, compounding the amount of work being performed.  Most people will find hybrid exercises like thrusters to exhaust the body much quicker than if you performed a set of squats and overhead presses on their own.

How many reps per exercise?

Play around with reps.  Vary them high, very them low.  Generally, anywhere from 8-15 reps will provide a good training effect.  

Personally, I prefer keeping the reps on the lower side so I can increase the amount of weight for each exercise.  I have found the training effect to be profound with lower reps and higher loads.

How many rounds?  

Rounds are the cycles through each exercise and reps per exercise.  

Generally speaking, a great workout at the right intensity should go anywhere from 4-8 rounds, rarely more.  

If you’re able to push passed 8 rounds with ease, it’s probably time to increase the weight used or the complexity of the movement.  

How much rest between rounds?

Again, this will vary depending on fitness level.  However, 30-75 seconds is a good target amount of rest between working sets.  As your body adapts to the stress, you’ll find it’s necessary to decrease the rest in order to keep progressing.  

In tough workouts it might not feel like it, but the human body is brilliantly designed to adapt to physical stresses.  

You train and break down, you recover, regenerate and grow.  

Here’s another idea for resting between each round, descending rest periods.  

For example:

Round 1:  Rest 25 seconds

Round 2:  Rest 35 seconds

Round 3:   Rest 45 seconds

Round 4:  Rest 55 seconds

Round 5:  Rest 65 seconds

Round 6:  Rest 75 seconds

Using this rest period structure, you’re challenging yourself harder on the front end of the workout since rest is far shorter but the work remains the same.  As you progress through the rounds, your rest periods lengthen to accommodate the accumulating fatigue.  

Start right now!

Don’t read this and forget about it.  Read it, write it down and do it today or tonight.  

You have everything you need to organize several of these exercises into a workout conducive for burning fat.

Don’t over think it.  Choose exercises for each of exercises, 1-5 above and you’ve just designed a workout to torch fat.

 

Cheers to your workout…

Kyle 

Beginner Lizard Crawl Exercise Variations

Ido Portal

Screen Shot 2017-06-12 at 4.02.49 PM

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