Alternatives to The Ido Portal Method Movement Training Book That Will Never Be…

Ido Portal
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“Coming soon” since 2013…

A lot of people (myself included) would happily fork over the money for a Ido Portal book, how-to guide, program manual, online training portal diagramming the foundational elements of The Ido Portal Method.  

Heck, most of us would find some value in a hand-written chicken-scratch compilation of notes from one of Ido’s infamous MovementX training camps.  Instead we get poetic postings and rants from his Facebook page.  

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At this point, I am sure it is not going to happen folks.

In interviews, Ido’s mentioned on several occasions he doesn’t want to chain his work to the “foreverness” of a book.  

As many know, The Ido Portal Method training philosophy is constantly evolving and expanding  

Ido Portal would have to write a 10,000 page book on movement, which would still have to be updated and revised on a regular basis.  

I would still read it from cover to cover.  

I’ve been checking the Ido Portal website for over 4 years, waiting for the “store” link to send me to a page with products.  Nothing, yet.  Still “Coming Soon”.

Rather than sift through the posts on Ido’s old blog, I found other training programs that in my opinion are just as good, if not better than The Ido Portal Method.

For several years I attempted to piecemeal any info I could find about Ido Portal Method which left me frustrated.  

Movement capacity development is a powerful transition in how we do fitness.  The question is:  “Nice body, what can you do with it?”

After digesting a lot of Ido’s documented work, I noticed trends.  

At the core, The Ido Portal Method is comprised of:

  •  Locomotion 
  •  Gymnastics

Understanding this made my search a lot easier and much more specific.  

Step 1:  Find ground-based movement training.

Step 2:  Find a strength-based built around elements of gymnastics.

My search led me to these these programs. 

Animal Flow

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Animal Flow is a bodyweight ground-based movement training system that uses animal-like exercises to create pre-planned flows and movement sequences.  Eventually, the goal is to transition from planned movement sequences to improvised flow work. 

Much like the Ido Portal Method, Animal Flow is a melting pot of movement disciplines cherry-picking the best elements from Parkour, Yoga, Bodyweight Training, etc.

Ground-based movement exploration, or locomotion, is a HUGE part of Ido Portal Method.  I’ve seen impressive results in movement capacity, strength and mobility since using more crawling patterns.  

The Lizard Crawl is a brilliant movement pattern.  


Locomotion training removes exposes the body to uncommon positions and removes a lot of fear or hesitation toward moving into and out of these positions.  Quadrupedal training is also great for upper body strength and core development.  

If you enjoy Ido’s locomotion exercises (lizard crawling, etc), you will find Animal Flow to be comparable and possibly more interesting.  

I’ve integrated Animal Flow into my own workouts from several different angles:  dynamic warm-up tool, as part of interval conditioning or as pure skill work.  It’s an extremely dynamic movement training system adaptable to suit many different goals.  

Here’s a simple flow…

 

Animal Flow 2.0 is designed for long distance coaching, which is fantastic for people who want to train at home (as I do).  The program design is progressive and structurally sound.  It’s also priced right versus spending $3,000+ for The Ido Portal Method.

More details about Animal Flow here

Global Bodyweight Training

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

The Bodyweight Athlete Program reinforces strength-based calisthenic movements, dominance over bodyweight.  This is a brilliantly structured fitness training program for anyone interested in exploring the potency of bodyweight training.  

Again, we are paralleling the Ido Portal Method progression of movement with Bodyweight Athlete.

Skill progression is primarily focused the following:

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

All of these exercises are an important part of the Isolation training phase in The Ido Portal Method.

Like Animal Flow, you do not have to be an advanced mover to make gains with this program.  It’s structured for everyone.  The progressions are designed to be scaled for everyone, beginner or elite.  

 

Smart exercise progressions are powerful and when paired with simple mobility, stability and flexibility training… gains are often rapid.  

Joint mobility and core training, self myofascial release and breath work are also a big part of The Bodyweight Athlete Program.  Keeping joints buttery and healthy, core strong through all planes of movement, muscles supple and pliable will protect the body from injuries.  I’m impressed with the attention given learn how to breathe properly.  

Breathing can either help or hinder.

The strength work in The Bodyweight Athlete compliments ground based locomotion of Animal Flow.  

Pairing the two creates a powerful training program which really is a great alternative to The Ido Portal Method. 

More details on The Bodyweight Athlete Program

Strength

Strength training is crucial.  It opens doors to more advanced movements.  

Dedicated strength work is a major part of the Isolation phase in the Ido Portal Method.

The underlying pursuit is to establish self-dominance over bodyweight.

To achieve this, it’s important to train big movements.  Exercises like single arm push-ups, pull-ups and chin-ups, body levers, pistol squats, L-Sits, etc.  

Gymnastics style workouts build incredible functional strength, as does single arm and single leg bodyweight exercises.  Both are examples of high tension training techniques.

If you look closely the Ido Portal Method you can see gymnastics roots.  There is plenty of tumbling, bodyweight patterns and work with the gymnastics rings.   

Training with gymnastics rings is brutally effective tool for increasing upper body strength.

Follow a training system… 

I’ll leave you with this… 

Find a training system and follow it relentlessly.  

Don’t make the mistake of trying to do only bits and pieces.  You’ll make some progress but not nearly as fast as you would have had you gone headfirst into a training system.  

You’ll make incredible progress by following the carefully designed progressions of a movement system.  In this post I’ve provided you with a couple options I feel are amazing alternatives to The Ido Portal Method.

Animal Flow and Global Bodyweight Training fell into my lap and I’ve been using them and recommending both ever since.  

Do your homework, but I think you’ll find these programs to be worthy alternatives to The Ido Portal Method program that may never be.  

 

Cheers to movement training endeavors,

Kyle

Here are Several Other Ido Portal Push-Up Variations

Ido Portal

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

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

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

Keep the movement recipe simple:

Find an effective training system and practice it relentlessly.

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

Allow me to rant on the value of practice…

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

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

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

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

Exercise #1: QDR: Beginner Rotational Push-Ups

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

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

Exercise #2:  NDA Beginner Lateral Push Ups

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

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

Exercise #3: Beginner Hybrid Push-Ups


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

Exercise #4:  Dive Planks

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

 
Exercise #5: Push-Ups with Toe Touch

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

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

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

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

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Animal Flow (Mike Fitch)

Overcoming Gravity (Steven Low)

Ultimate Athleticism (Max Shank)

Complete Calisthenics (Ashley Kalym)

A quick word about equipment…

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

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

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

Nayoya Gymnastics Rings

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

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

Gymnastics rings are an unbeatable buy in my opinion.

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

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

Cheers to you.

Kyle

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

Look! Movement is the Benefit :)

Quick Tips

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Non-traditional movement has been the name of the game lately.

Pure ground based locomotion and flow.

It’s not that I don’t have time for more mainstream forms of movement, because I believe in that also,  but I am becoming increasingly intrigued with other methods of movement training.  I almost used the term “time-tested” instead of mainstream.  It might have been a better description, but admittedly, 95% of my personal workout habits and the habits which I recommend to others seeking movement regimens are in fact, mainstream.

A simple blend of squats, lunges, hip dominant hinging, upper body pushing and pulling in a vertical and horizontal fashion will set you up for success.  Add in some chops and lifts and you have got yourself a damn good routine.  It’s all in how you organize it and tweak the variables to best fit your goals.

A squat is a squat, but with a few tweaks here and there, you can make the squat conducive to building a number of different human physical qualities (strength, endurance, power, etc), all completely different from each other.

Always remember, in the beginning… establish mobility, establish stability in that new-found range of motion, then begin the process of building strength.

It’s a layering effect.

This is a recipe that works every single time for the person that is willing to be diligent in their training efforts.

Are you that person?

Because here is the reality:  Movement works every single time.  100% effective.  It’s people that fall short.

Movement works.  People don’t do the work.  Shame on us.

Over the past few weeks, I have progressively integrated more and more Ido-style movements into my pre-work training block.  Maybe I shouldn’t refer to these movements as “Ido-invented” (after watching some of his videos he probably would deny they are his but were there from the beginning of time), but he was one of the first (and still the best that I’ve seen) to make sense of less mainstream forms of movement.

He is a mover, in every sense of the word.

From one-arm hand stands and other hand balancing, single arm chin ups, planches and twice bodyweight back squats, Ido can move with flow and move load if necessary.

Planche training

Planche

I keep referring to Ido’s teachings as “movement”, and that’s because it is.  He neither specializes nor generalizes.

I guess I never really stopped and thought about it, but most of what is published and preached today is purely about fitness.  Even Yoga, with it’s cult like following, doesn’t necessarily make a person MOVE better.  It might help a person increase flexibility and improve range of motion, but it doesn’t guarantee that you will move better.

You have to practice movement to improve your ability to move.

Now, I will say that I don’t necessarily believe that the mere act of practicing movement is going to grant you access to better movement.  It may open a few doors to becoming a better mover, but I also think that each person needs to be real with themselves and their own situation.  Some folks have got some real compensations, imbalances and dysfunction going on.  Who knows where or how these issues manifested themselves (a lot are from sitting too long) but they are there, so it may be completely necessary to address these movement restrictions before you’ll ever be a great mover, or even an average mover.

The Functional Movement Screen is a great system for evaluating yourself, and your ability to move.  Why?  Because it is systematic.  You grade your movement quality, and lesser quality scores in any given movement pattern has a roadmap of corrective drills that you can use to clean up that movement pattern.  In essence, you can correct faulty movement rather quickly.

Realistically, you can perform a poor man’s movement screen at home on yourself.  It will always be better to have a knowledgeable FMS certified trainer evaluate you, but hey, we can DIY.

Use a big mirror or better yet film yourself performing the tests from the movement screen.  Don’t feel dumb filming, you can delete it immediately.  The filming of your movement capabilities is extremely valuable.  What you “think” you’re doing isn’t always what you actually doing movement-wise.

Take your video and compare it to some perfect screens (which you can easily find on YouTube) and take note of the differences.  Most people will notice that their overhead squat is a lacking, rotational stability nearly impossible to complete and the inline lunge makes you feel like you’re balancing on a tight rope.

Cleaning up these patterns will make you a better mover, and probably decrease the likelihood that your dysfunction manifests itself into an injury.

However, cleaning up the screen doesn’t mean that you’ll all of the sudden be a great mover.  You have to practice moving to be a great mover.  Are you sick of me saying move?  Mover?  Movement yet?  Sit tight I’ll drop those terms a bunch more in the coming paragraphs.

In many cases, I have substituted ground based crawling variations (supine and prone) and walks in  place of my go-to dynamic warm up.  I haven’t felt like I am sacrificing anything by doing so.  My joints still move through a full range of motion and my muscles are activated in a low-impact fashion.  I would even argue that my time is being maximized by practicing my movement flow using Ido’s training drills versus my standard cookie cutter warm up.

I’ve actually exited many of these warm-ups in a pool of sweat, even before beginning what I would consider to be the “work” portion of my session.  Interesting.

I’ve quickly found that I am ridiculously weak in certain positions, uncoordinated and all around uncomfortable as I work in some of the Ido Portal warm-up drills and ground based training.  It’s an ego check for sure, especially since he refers to many of these flow-like drills as being “beginner”.  Ha!  Soreness has also been a product of the unfamiliar movements, although it’s never a goal.  Unfamiliar movements almost always produce soreness because your body hasn’t experienced it yet.

I am reminded – as I continue to force myself to become more vulnerable by the day with Ido’s training idealogy- of how a newbie to the workout scene feels at first.  It’s an emotional uppercut showing up to a personal training session or a group class (even training by yourself behind closed doors) knowing that you’re going to struggle to complete what is being asked of you.

But the key is to keep coming back.  Keep grinding.  Keep learning.  Realize that it’s a process, just like everything else.  And as a process, you’ve got to work at it, consistently and in a focused manner.  Leave your feelings at the door and work.

We’ve become detached from our bodies and desensitized to our physical abilities.  In fact, many of us no longer have a relationship with our body, and our physical abilities.  Things that we could easily do as kids are now foreign and seemingly impossible.  But all of that can be regained.

One major takeaway from the my small bit of reading Ido’s work is this:  We’ve got to establish a lifelong relationship with our movement.  Every one of us.  We will all start at different points and need different adjustments along the way- and this makes sense because we are all individually unique- but you’ve got to make sure that you start and find a way to make it stick.

Enjoy the challenge of learning new physical skills.  Embrace the frustrations and work out the solutions on your own.  If you find yourself stuck, hop on the computer or tablet and search out a solution.  The internet is packed with incredible free information that can get you where you need to go.

I suck at many of Ido’s locomotion drills right now.  I’ll admit that.  I filmed myself and I look stiff and the opposite of gracefully.  But that will change with time and practice.  It’s frustrating to know that I am practicing something that I am not good at (yet).

I think many people may find that they actually like dedicated workouts more when you a aiming to develop a certain movement skill.  Pursuing skills transforms a person’s daily workouts into a journey instead of a dreaded 60 minutes of robotic physical activity that we feel we need to participate in to chase the idea of “fitness”.

A movement journey may not have an end point.  But that is the beauty of it.  You achieve a goal and begin planning and preparation for the next goal.  One day you look back and realize that over the course of time you hopped over barriers that you never imagined you would hurdle.  That’s an incredible feeling to evaluate significant forward progress, especially when looking at where you started.

People often ask me what the benefit of an exercise is, or which exercises will best target a specific area of the body…

For a long time I couldn’t find the exact words to answer this question in a way that felt true to myself… but try this one out because I think this might be where I stand…

Ido Portal Movement

 

 

Cheers to getting uncomfortable in your movement endeavors…

 

KG

What is Ido Portal’s Training Philosophy Doing To Me?

Quick Tips

Ido Portal

I’ve been following Ido Portal for nearly 2 months and I’m starting to question how we “practice” fitness, what it means to be “fit”, how we get to the point of being considered fit, what humans should be able to do movement-wise, and on and on  and on.

I have to admit, thought process-wise, I am going through a shift.

Ido makes incredibly great points about movement and body control.  It’s a raw thought process, completely stripped down to just… movement.

The point that Ido conveys time and time again is that we should be able to move freely.  He references movement patterns, but I know from reading through his blog and watching his YouTube videos that he isn’t referring to the “safe” movement patterns that we fitness professionals beat into the ground.  He’s expanding far beyond that thought process.

Here are some snapshots of Ido-style movement…

I realize now, more than ever, that the modern-day human really doesn’t know how to handle their body.

We are slaves to sitting in chairs, cubicles, in front of the television and in cars.  If you really stop and think about how much we sit on any given day, it’s nauseating.  Even if we have no choice but to sit for our careers, when the weekend comes we still choose to grab a lawn chair and sit, sit at the bar, sit at restaurant.  Sit.

I can partially throw myself into this group also because I have to sit down to write on this blog.

I consider myself to be an athletic dude, but watching some of these videos leads me to believe that I have handicapped my own movement performance.  I am not even in the same realm as some of the people that have been under the Ido Portal tutelage for as few as a few months.

I can squat (ass to grass) and rest in the squatting position for long periods of time, elevate my arms overhead without breaking at the low back, and exhibit rotational range of motion at my thoracic spine when it’s required… but integrating of all of these elements into a free-flowing long sequence without making it look painfully difficult was humbling for me.

The low lizard crawl is a basic locomotion pattern in the Ido Portal Training Method, and it’s basically used as warm-up!  I am here to tell you that it is humbling how difficult it is to crawl 10-15 yards like this (fast forward to 1:56)…

Are the followers of the Ido Portal Method been practicing different techniques than I am?

Yes, of course.  They are following strict progressions that allow for a appropriate movement education.  A repetitive approach to learning movement in a progression-friendly manner will ensure that no fundamental steps were skipped along the way, all while achieving desired results.

The human body will adapt and increasingly better how we ask to move, or how we don’t it to move.  That is why a lot of people have back pain, poor hip mobility and loss of muscle activation from sitting.  But humans naturally want to stand up straight, so in order to make this possible, we compensate to achieve.

So I think that over time my movement will begin to flow like some of his videos, but it is going to take some work, some practice, dedication and time.

Many of Ido’s students YouTube videos display what I would consider to be “test-outs” or results from following his teachings, so I think that it’s important (when watching these videos) to keep in mind that there was an incredible amount of dedication and work put in prior to shooting each person’s testimonial of the Ido Portal Method.

It didn’t happen over night, in a week or in a month.

The other night, I was trying to find the words to describe my perception of how we pursue health and wellness, and where I stand on the matter.  It’s a difficult topic to discuss because there are so many elements that combine to form, health.

I continue to find myself veering away from “safe” more and more.  Now, I don’t mean that I am moving toward “unsafe” and negligent, but I really am questioning why we do what we do in the gym or outside of the gym (wherever we train).  It’s cookie cutter and robotic in nature.  It’s lacking exploration.  Reps, sets and rest cannot be the pot of gold at the end of the movement continuum.

Who established these rules that we follow so closely?  Science?  Industry leaders?

Do we continue to teach and preach these methods because that is what the masses want?  Or are we lacking in our own understanding of more complex movement patterns, integration and improvisation?  Are we aiming for the wrong target?  What does fitness mean anyways?

We aim for reproducible results- and I don’t think that we should be aiming for anything different- but we have become robots in our pursuit of fitness.  The entire idea is skewed.  Everything that we preach for people to do is cookie cutter and safe.

There is very little room for anyone to stray from the path, and if you do (as I am exploring currently), you’re branded and thrown out to the wolves.

We preach moving within our means, avoiding compromising body positions and alignment, moving weight safely, employing safe rep and set ranges for maximizing our goals, adequate rest to perform that work safely, etc.  Safe, safe, safe.

Before you label me a hippocrate, let me say that I actually also believe in safe.

Ido Portal’s methods of movement might be right for everyone at some point, but maybe not at this moment.

The human race have never moved less or eaten worse.

We sit more, we move less. We are walking time bombs with regard to our ability to move effectively or for any duration (endurance, etc).  We eat food created in factories, food that has never seen the earth’s soil, food that contains ingredients that we cannot pronounce much less identify… and because we eat so much of this food, our body’s have become a reflection of these poor choices.

Make no mistake, we are what we eat.

But the problem is that we don’t even know we are heading down a path of self-destruction.  Eating crap has become the norm, and we don’t even know it.  But food chatter is outside of the scope of this blog post.  I’m not a nutritionist nor do I really want to be.  I’ll end the nutrition talk here.

We walk around commenting that a person is “in shape” if they don’t cast a bubbly shadow on pavement on a sunny day.  Not everyone needs to have a six-pack, but we are desensitized to what health looks like.  “Lean” is almost taboo is some areas of America, and the world.  One look back in history will show that most of civilization is getting bigger.  And by bigger, I am not referring to taller.

In many instances, our body shape is actually limiting our ability to move.  Yes, the amount of tissue that we are carrying on our bodies are preventing us from moving the way that we are supposed to move.

Studies like this support my bantering…

I started thinking like this a few years ago, and I thought I was crazy, because my background is strength and conditioning.  Strength and conditioning workouts and programs are EXTREMELY structured, and EXTREMELY safe.  There is very little room for movement exploration in the eyes of strength coach.  Strength based programs, as I mentioned, are extremely structured.  You work through phases that place focus on building different athletic qualities (hypertrophy, strength, power, work capacity, etc).  The reps and sets are calculated, training days, rest, etc.

I got trapped in that way thinking for everyone, athlete or otherwise.  More like handcuffed.  To the point that I felt like if I explored anything outside of a 4-phase workout program, a barbell squat or a systematic approach to “core training”, then I was a Looney Tune.

Then I picked up a kettlebell for the first time.  Kettlebells had been around for a little while, but they were still considered taboo by some of the leaders in the strength and conditioning industry.  After executing some kettlebell swings and some turkish get ups in a hotel room after a performance conference, I realized that movement was different from exercise.

Movement is different from exercise.

This is movement:

This is exercise:

I was strong, but my integrated movement was shit.  In fact, I wasn’t graceful at all.  My muscles were powerful and my joint were mobile and stable, but I had zero grace in pure movement.  I was powerful, strong and stable within the confines of identified movement patterns, but when I challenged myself outside of these confines, I was at beginner level.

Again, I realized that movement is different from exercise. I was certainly moving when I exercise, but I was trapping and limiting my ability to move freely with traditional exercise.

In fact, I don’t even like the word exercise.  I use it but I don’t like it.  I use the word “movement” on this blog over and over again.  I would even prefer to say “train” or “practice” or “drills” over the word exercise.  Exercise makes me cringe.  “Exercise” makes me think of automated robots on a treadmill.  I don’t want to be an automated robot.  I want to move.  I want to move because I enjoy moving, and seeking out new methods of movement is challenging.  I want to move in an unrestricted 3-dimensional manner.

I’m not going to discard structured movement training using such drills as push ups, squats, and lunges, because they have their place.  But I am damn well going to explore un-traditional forms of movement from here on out.  Climbing, hanging, swinging, etc.  Full integration of movement play and practice starts now.

We fitness professionals think that we know movement and that we are teaching people how to be “functional”, shame on us.  We stop our teachings at “flat back”, “shoulders down and back” and “pressurize your core”!

I learned a long time ago, after crumpling up and throwing away probably 2-3 books worth of writing material that I should trust my thinking.  I feel that I should trust my thinking now.  I have grown to appreciate being exposed to new ideas that initiate an evolution in my own thinking.

Why be trapped?  Go explore, go move…

Oh and here is that picture that I promised some 910 words ago…

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Cheers to stumbling onto ideas that open our minds!

KG

Ido Portal QOD (Quote of the Day)

Quick Tips

With all of the rage about WOD’s, WMD’s and DTF’s, whoops…

I thought that I would post a quote from one of Ido Portal’s YouTube videos.  I love this guys philosophy on exploring movement.  Referring to Ido as a jack of all trades wouldn’t be fair, because in modern society we often think of someone like this as being “sort of” good at everything, but a master of none.

Maybe I’ll start posting SWOD’s, “swing workout of the day”.  Or BOD’s, “breakfast of the day”.  Maybe TOD’s, “television of the day”.

But through watching his few YouTube videos and reading some written word from Ido, it seems that he has it all figured out.  I like his approach.

P.S.  I’m still unsure about the everted ankle jumping, but hey, I don’t need to agree with everything that everyone says.

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My personal feeling on this statement is quite simple…

Why subject yourself to proving this statement incorrect?  When your ability to move is taken from you, what if you cannot get it back?  Or worse?

Don’t bet the farm, keep moving people.

 

Cheers you moving because you can…

KG

A Tough 20 Minute Kettlebell Workout: Clean+Squat+Press

20 minute Workouts, Kettlebell Training

Simple training tactics will give you the greatest return on your time investment.

Want to build strength?  Keep it simple.  Want to lose fat?  Keep it simple.  Want to dunk a basketball?  Keep it simple.

Keeping things simple, is keeping things productive. The more you can simplify, beat on the basics and remove unnecessary feelings of decision fatigue, the more clarity you’ll have in what work needs to get done.

Complicating matters with too much exercise variety, mixing training tactics often lead to inconsistent efforts.  Why?  There is no focused effort, very little direction.

Keep it simple, and maintain laser-like focus.  Choose one path and move down that path with confidence, conviction and attention to detail.

Yesterday, my workout was a simple but potent concoction, and now I offer it up to you…

1)  Double Kettlebell Cleans

2)  Double Kettlebell Squat

3)  Double Overhead Kettlebell Press

Three basic kettlebell exercises.

The clean, squat and press are all highly effective big bang movements.

Kettlebell cleans are an explosive total body movement. Kettlebell squats fatigue the anterior core (front rack position) while training the lower body.  Overhead kettlebell pressing reinforces the vertical pressing pattern of the upper body, which is arguably one of the most important functional movements to maintain for everyday life activities.

The metabolic training stimulus is tremendous when these exercises are coupled together.

Here’s a short summary of the workout…

Warm-up

Of course, it is important to warm-up.  You may feel differently, but until I see a reason that warming up is harmful, I will ALWAYS warm-up.

A brisk, comprehensive warm-up can get a lot of work done in 10-15 minutes or less.  If you’re a calorie counter, consider the warm-up a time to burn a few extra calories (at the very least).  Most people will have a good lather of sweat going by the end of a productive warm-up.

The pre-workout period allows an opportunity to assess how I am feeling on that particular day.  There have been a handful of times when I’ve pulled the plug on a workout based on how my body felt during the warm-up drills.

{If physical exertion doesn’t seem to agree with your body on that particular day, scrap it and come back tomorrow and crush it.  Often times, you’ll find that what your body needed was REST}.

My warm up was free flowing, mixing and matching traditional dynamic stretching with plenty of isolated activation work, crawling variations, traditional bodyweight movements and some basic Ido Portal drills.

The components of a warm-up should provide a gentle introduction to the more potent training stimulus that lies ahead.  Various stretches, joint mobilizations, muscle activation and low-load movement patterns a great pre-workout.

Much of my pre-workout warm-ups are infused with Ido Portal-esque movements.

All ground-based, full range of motion, concentrated and controlled.

On the tail end of the warm-up, I worked through some kettlebell drills to gradually prepare my body for the exertion to come.

All of these drills were completed using only one kettlebell, a DragonDoor 24kg/53lb kettlebell, except for the squat+press-outs, which required a lighter 20kg (44lb) for technique reasons.

Around-the-Body Kettlebell Revolutions     x15 each direction

Single Arm Kettlebell Swings     x10 each arm 

1-Arm Kettlebell Cleans     x8 each arm

Squat + horizontal press-outs     x6

Kettlebell Windmills     x8 each arm

The Workout:

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Alternating exercises each rep (clean then squat then press) is extremely challenging, especially if you’re accustomed to kettlebell complexes where all reps of each exercise are completed before moving on to the next exercising.

Here, your mind must stay sharp throughout each “set”.  The kettlebell will be changing positions, transitioning from knee, to chest to an overhead position quickly and frequently, and the minimal rest period only comes after completing 6 full repetitions of each exercise.

By rounds 6, 7 and 8, you’ll appreciate the rest periods, but they won’t feel long enough.

If you find that 30 seconds of rest is too short, bump it up to 45 seconds, maybe 60 seconds.  But remember that the goal is to perform a lot of work in a short amount of time, so don’t get too loose with the rest period.  You should be sucking wind.

I’m not big on boasting about who can use the heaviest weight for a workout like this, that’s not the point.  Consistent training and progress earns you heavier weight.

In general, you should be able to clean, squat and press 4-5 more reps beyond what are suggested in this workout.  So you should be using a weight that you clean, squat and press for 10 repetitions.

Weight-wise, a benchmark to aim for males and females would be:

Time Breakdown…

The “work” portion of this workout required just over 11 minutes.

Including the warm up, we are looking at a total time investment of 21 minutes.

The question I’ll ask to the person who feels they have no time for a workout is this:

What non-productive activities could you eliminate to allow for 21 minutes of productive physical practice?

  • Trade 21 minutes of Facebook scrolling for 21 minutes of workout.
  • Swap 21 minutes of TV watching for 21 minutes of workout.
  • Wake up 21 minutes earlier than normal to accommodate 21 minutes of workout.

Although we all have unique daily responsibilities, it’s important to become aware of where and how we are spending out time, right down to the minute.  A detailed assessment of the allocation of our time can often reveal that we have much more time than we perceive.

 

 

Cheers to time effective training without compromise…

KG