Ground Based Locomotion

More and more often I find myself referring people to practice the Bear, Monkey, Frogger and the Inverted Crawl (aka the Crab).

These 4 ground based locomotion exercises alone address so many weaknesses, develop great strengths and offer a fun element to any training block.

Staying stable, controlling or resisting rotation through the torso and breathing control are just three areas to focus on whilst we practice these four relatively simple ground based locomotions.

To begin with, we practice the positions or shapes we wish to assume to start each movement before practicing how the movement commences.

Below I’ve added How To videos for each of these.

Then What?

Once you’ve had some practice and can carry out each for a minute or so with good form, you could consider flowing the moves together – a bit like this.

Each of these movements have their progressions and regressions to help us work at the level we need for our bodies. If you are interested in this kind of movement training, please do shout out.

I’m always happy to help.

Jamie

Real world calisthenics

Calisthenics /ˌkalɪsˈ θɛnɪks/

I’d like to throw out an idea for your consideration; the idea of creating a training program with calisthenic movements that are contextual. The context I want to refer to (apart from a specialist strength or sport program) is the real world and the physical activities that stress our bodies on a daily basis or from time to time. If we are not preparing ourselves for our current and those potential physical activities and challenges we really are doing ourselves a disservice.

I totally get the reason for hitting up the local equipment packed gym with the intention of getting bigger muscles, to pull a bigger deadlift or to row a faster 5km. It feels good to see results. I’ve been there and (mostly / kind of) enjoyed the process.

You know what feels better though?

Being capable, competent and safely confident when met with physical challenges. I was reminded of this recently when a client spoke of a friend who goes to the gym frequently (and trains hard) but gets his kids to lift the shopping out of his car because… wait for it… he’s afraid of hurting his back!!!

I am a fan of purposeful training, much like I’m a fan of purposeful anything. Time is not for the wasting. Don’t get me wrong, I love to explore new things, but anything I do try out is for the greater cause and if it fails to benefit in any way, it’s gone.

So to recap, ideally the majority of our time exercising, training, practicing (whatever you want to call it) should be benefiting us.

Next, let’s look at traditional calisthenic movements. Calisthenics is defined as a form of strength training that uses our bodyweight as resistance and involves multiple muscles in full body movements. These range from pushing, pulling, gripping, squatting and hip hinging as well as jumping and climbing activities. Breaking these down to the usual suspects we have moves like:

  • Push ups
  • Pull ups
  • Squats
  • Vertical and broad jumps
  • Planks

These form the basics and they are great. In fact, the FitStrong January program is built around ‘reviving’ foundations with these movements.

Street calisthenics has been a growing progression to calisthenics over the 15 years or so but really takes the concept of bodyweight training to a much more athletic or dare I say performance level. Do most of us need to do a human flag, levers, flips and spins? Whilst cool, I don’t agree that it’s what we need to do if our goal is to live stronger and for longer.

Real World Calisthenics

Most us of will have a life that requires rather similar physicality’s. Carrying in the shopping, gardening work, taking out the bins to the roadside, lifting our kids or elderly (it’s going to happen at some time), cleaning up the house and all those other household DIY jobs. And it’s all good. We are meant to move and do all of these plus more. Most of us don’t have to hunt and forage our food anymore, but we still have a huge capacity to manage many physical tasks – if we are prepared.

Prepare by practice.

I’ll now start to break down how we could practice or ‘train’ with real world calisthenics. Again, let me categorise our real world movements.

  • Pushing
  • Pulling
  • Lifting and carrying
  • Getting down to the ground and back up again
  • Jumping over something, onto, off and across
  • Squatting
  • Low to ground locomotion, aka crawl like manoeuvres

Mostly, these are rather similar to traditional calisthenics. With a thoughtful couple of minutes you can easily imagine how these fit potential physical eventualities.

How would a training program look?

First off, a great program doesn’t need to be sterile and void of fun. A great program also doesn’t need to take ages. A lot of benefit can be gained from 30 minute sessions, three or even twice per week. Each session could be used to work on a handful of movement skills in a circuit or over three 10 minute blocks. You could practice the same movement skills per session and gradually build up the effort, or reps or repeat efforts.

There are so many options.

What I will do next is provide two training sessions that demonstrate this idea of real world calisthenics. I’ll pop up a follow up video post to check out or follow along with.

If you like what you see, I will have a progressive program made available soon.

Got any thoughts or ideas? Get in touch.

What is The Most Useful Piece of Strength Equipment?

Here’s an age old question I get asked frequently. ‘if you could only train with one piece of equipment what would it be?’

I can only really give my opinion based on what I most frequently use to practice being strong. I’m talking NOT about stronger in the deadlift, squat, press or something specific but rather what I do use to practice being purposefully strong throughout my being or body if you prefer. 

My answer? The Floor.

Yeah a wee bit elusive and maybe corny and odd for the less initiated who might proclaim, ‘like duh, you got to rest your dumbbells on the floor dude’! (People still say dude don’t they?) 

Apart from using the floor to rest dumbbells and equipment on, the floor plays host to opportunities for using your body to move, to balance, to jump, to push off from. 

Last weekend Animal Flow founder Mike Fitch hosted a video conferencing class for the hundreds of us instructors around the world. I joined in with another 600+ instructors where we participated in a 80 minute class! No equipment, just our bodies, the floor and a small handful of engaging movements we practiced before sticking them altogether in a smooth flow. 

As you hold a position with precision on the floor for 30 seconds you can’t help but be reminded of how much strength is required to be still, calm and attentive to form.

The ground as an environment can also throw variability that teases your limitations further. Have you ever tried crawling backwards up a slight gradient? Wow – ‘Holy Triceps Batman’ – it’s intense. 

Being able to get down to the ground and back to standing is a skill that requires practice and strength. You might not think of it now but when you’re 55+ years of age, getting off the floor can start be become a tiresome undertaking not without its risks too. Practice often mindfully getting down to the foot and back up. It could save your life some day. 

Balance is another subject you’ll probably ignore until you realise you suck at it. While it’s funny at times to watch someone lose their balance and hit the deck, it bloody hurts and not to mention it can easily keep you out of the gym for a while. Broken hips and collar bones are not so funny. Balance doesn’t need any fancy slack lines, in fact, at our gym we have a selection of wooden boards or even weights plates that we lay out to practice the many attributes of balance skill. Trust me, spend 1 minute trying to lose your balance and fighting it can really make the thighs burn – if that’s what you like. 

Other balance areas include walking split squats with or without a weight, one leg jumps from stepping stones aka weight plates and being able to pivot on those boards without falling into the ‘hot lava’ below. 

Have I mentioned push ups yet? You love of loathe the full push up, but believe me when I tell you there are dozens of variations all worthy of practice. 

 Legs, torsos, arms and life saving skills can all be practiced on the floor beneath you. Don’t leave it at rubber gym mats either. The outdoor nature spots offer even further variability with falling trees, rocks and such. 

Just in case you don’t believe me and need some experiential learning, I am hosting some outdoor training sessions in the coming weeks in our local parks. These will include:

  • An introduction to Animal Flow
  • Real World Strength and Fitness
  • Ground based locomotion

Interested? Drop me a message to learn more and to be placed on the reserve list.

Are you ‘Real-World’ Fit?

Does your exercise support real-world demands?

Much of the time people exercise to accomplish an outcome, a result or even just for the sake of it, because it’s healthy, to burn energy, calories or time!

Whilst just working-out is fine, wouldn’t it be awesome if our exercise endeavours actually prepared us for the physical needs of an active life?

Having bigger muscles might seem like an ideal, but really, when you’re getting old, no one will care how much you benched, how big your guns were or how many insta-likes you had. “What’s instagram”? They’ll ask!

What really matters is how well you will function.

Can you balance, carry heavy ‘stuff’, climb, step up, crawl, run and jump? Can you get to the ground and back up effortlessly?

Strength training with machines, bars and dumbbells and kettlebells are great tools. They will build specific strengths, but they don’t always carry over to the real world apart from building general resiliency. The human skills to move and age with strength, power, purpose and fitness is something that takes a different form in the gym – if indeed a gym is even needed.

At FitStrong we practice all the usual strength exercises from squatting, deadlifting, pushes and pulls etc but we back these up with heaps of practice of natural movement, real world strength and fitness skills that will support you during the weekend gardening spree, house renovations, that big weekend hike and much more over the coming years.

If you’d like to chat about this and how it fits your lifestyle – let’s catch up.

I can design you and your family a routine I can take you through at FitStrong or the local park, or make you a follow-along at home routine, with any variety of things you may have lying around. Traditional gym equipment is not a requirement!

Even though gym restrictions are lifted (and hopefully will stay that way), I am happy to meet virtually with video conferencing, in the park or of course, at my outdoor covered training area in Albany Creek.

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