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The Pursuit of Movement (Part 2 – Planning)

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The hardest part of any journey is taking the first step.

Ever wonder why that is? It’s not so much a matter of laziness, fear of failure, or even worrying about our own incompetence. It’s because we lack direction.

We don’t know what we’re supposed to do. Not really. Not in great detail. We have a specific picture of what we want and only a vague idea of how to get there.

This is where planning comes in.

Forming a plan is possibly the most difficult aspect of pursuing any goal. Think about this for a second and you’ll know that it’s true. We are much more willing to be told what to do than to make our own course of action. This is especially true when it comes to matters of self improvement. Why do you think personal trainers and books titled 7 Steps to Become a Better __________ are so successful?

It’s not necessarily a bad thing to follow others’ plans. They are the experts after all, and their wealth of knowledge shouldn’t be discounted. But in the end, their plans are just that: their plans. It’s something they’ve created with the assumption that they know you and how you work. Some of their plans are over-generalized, and some are just shortcut scams created for the sake of turning a profit.

Not every expert is a shitty planner though. There are some great trainers and coaches out there that have yielded amazing results, and I very much look forward to following their plans for me one day. But for the person who cannot find or afford the best teacher, there is this matter of learning things on your own.

Fuck! I have to research all this new information and make sense of it? Yes, that is the process of learning that we’ve long been removed from. I know it’s hard, I know it’s overwhelming, but it will ultimately be immensely rewarding. Have a part in your planning and you will own your results.


So how am I going to pursue this monumentally complex idea of movement?

Well, I started by tackling the formidable task of reading Ido Portal’s blog in its entirety. There are 90 posts to go through, and some of them contain a lot of detailed information, including nutrition/fitness terms I didn’t know and important people I’ve never heard of. Great… more stuff to look up. 🙂

Along with learning Ido’s personal wisdom and seeing his beastly workouts, I scoured the internet to follow the many leads and resources he’s left in his posts. This brought me to two other key figures in Robb Wolf and Christopher Sommer, authors of The Paleo Solution and Building the Gymnastic Body, respectively. I’ve always been keen on nutrition and exercise and those two offered a lot of new and insightful information.

So between the floreio workouts from Ido’s blog, progress videos from his clients, the gymnastics exercises from Sommers’ book, and my own patchwork understanding of fitness, I’ve finally managed to piece together a rough program to meet my movement goals while still trying to look sexy naked.

Ok. This plan consists of 6 main movements. They were selected with the purpose of combining elements of balance, strength, and flexibility. Some of these movements have a gymnastics base, while others are found in activities like Capoeira and CrossFit.

1. Handstand

ido handstand

(Image by Ido Portal)
This is the most basic gymnastic movement that I could never do. Essential for advanced hand balancing and a key component for almost all acrobatic movements. There are many variations of handstands but the one I’m focusing on is a static straight body line handstand.

Start: 0 seconds
Goal: 30 seconds
Training frequency: 3 x 20 seconds per day with wall (or 1 min of total handstand time without wall), 5-6 days per week

2. Planche

ido planche

(Image by Ido Portal)
Yea, not gonna lie, this one’s pretty damn difficult. “Almost inhuman” Ido Portal puts it. As illustrated in Building the Gymnastic Body, it’s better to tackle this hold in very measured steps. The tuck is step 2 (out of 6), while the straddle is step 5.

Start: 7 seconds (tuck)
Goal: 30 seconds (tuck), 5 seconds (straddle)
Training frequency: 3 x 15-20 seconds per day (floor and/or bars), 3-4 days per week

3. L Sit

L sit

Finally, something I can do… or used to be able to do at least. A good gymnastics hold very useful for developing abdominal strength.

Start: 3 seconds
Goal: 30 seconds
Training frequency: 3 x 10-15 seconds per day (floor and/or bars), 3-4 days per week

4. Bridge rotation


(Footage by Ido Portal)
A dynamic movement with a base in Capoeira (at least that’s how I knew about it). Great for active flexibility, shoulder, and back strength. Looks pretty cool too.

Start: 1 (left side)
Goal: 4 per side
Training frequency: 3 x 10 reps (using wall), 3 x 8 reps bridge pushups per day, 2-3 days per week

5. Muscle-up


An impressive movement that I recently learned how to do. This is a combination of a pull up with a dip. There are a few variations: bar, rings, kipping, strict (no kipping). For this I’m focusing on bar muscle ups with minimal kipping.

Start: 2
Goal: 7
Training frequency: 3 sets pull-up variations per day, 1 day per week (LAZY I know!), and sporadic training on any bars I come across at parks/playgrounds 1 x week

6. One arm chin-up (OAC)


(Footage by Ido Portal)
This shit looks impossible, but I assure you it can be done! Slow, steady, and with lots of assistance!

Start: 0
Goal: Just 1 please
Training frequency: 3 x 1 rep + negative (assisted) per day, 2-3 days per week


Well, there you have it. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list as there are quite a few other movements I’ll be working on during this time as well. I will measure my progress each month and post the results on here.

NOTE: It is just past month 2 as I write this, so my results for months 1 and 2 will be posted in short succession.


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Robert July 2, 2013 at 3:27 pm

I haven’t read the blogs or information as you have, but one thing I would point out to others (it’s probably already pointed out in the info you have researched) is a need for people doing these sorts of exercises to keep in mind “balance”

By that I mean, being conscious of using both sides of the body equally. Naturally most of us are stronger on one side, or otherwise better at doing this or that with one side of the body than the other. That said, I can see how some of these exercises mentioned could easily be ones where people will rely on their “strong” side to complete strong movements with ease rather than using each side equally and perhaps having a bit more trouble with it. In the video clip on the “muscle up, we can clearly see the person using their left arm much more than their right in regards to completing the movement. (not sure if that is you)

The reason I mention this is mainly because when I first came to Korea, I spent several tears training under a doctor who specialized in physical therapy, and in more focused terms, what he called “body cleaning”. This essentially means correcting muscle imbalances in the body, unbalances that can eventually lead to joint misalignment and chronic pain in later years.

Although I am certain you are aware of these things, I mention it to others who may be less experienced and looking to get started with workouts like these.


siawnou July 3, 2013 at 12:24 am

well said. i strongly agree with the practice of training both sides of your body. i’ve read that training your weak side actually improves your strong side as well. definitely experienced this firsthand with movements as subtle as shooting pool.

and yes, that is me doing the muscle up. thanks for pointing out my bad form! still learning, improving, and becoming more symmetrical.


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