Category Archives: Leg Workout

WEEKLY PROGRAMMING according to the Natural Method

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Weekly programming consists of 6 daily sessions of roughly an hour, each divided into one or several takes.
The first 5 sessions are identical to the model described in the DAILY PROGRAMMING chapter.
The 6th session is more specifically reserved for long distance runs, games, sports and manual labor of all kinds.

Example of weekly programming:

Monday: hour-long complete session in 2 takes:
1st take: fundamentals.
2nd take: functional training.

Tuesday through Friday: same.

Saturday: Long distance run. Games, sports, manual labor.

Sunday: rest

DAILY PROGRAMMING according to the Natural Method

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Daily training contains at least one complete session, consisting of the following:

Self-defense: boxing and wrestling;
Swimming (whenever possible)

The daily program is performed in one or several “takes” inside of the same day.
Each take is generally composed of lessons as just listed: fundamentals or basic educational exercises, functional/utilitarian and complete lessons.

The order of performance is preferably in the same order as described in Chapter IV, book 1 [INSERT CHART] or as describe under GENERAL PROGRAMMING

If, for whatever reason (lack of space, equipment, etc.) a different order is followed, it must be logical, meaning go according to the principles of increase, then gradual decrease of energy expenditure, with max effort reserved for the end of the session/take.

Example of daily programming broken up into two takes:
– 1st take: Lesson revolving round basic educational exercises/fundamentals.
– 2nd take: Functional/utilitarian lesson.

Total duration of session: 1 hour.
1st take duration: 25 minutes.
2nd take duration: 30 minutes.
5 minutes rest between takes.

Both takes contain races/running. Preferably perform a distance or endurance run in the first take, a sprint in the second.

Great playgrounds for adults

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And of course, younger people who will turn into adults.

We all need a starting point for our skills. Seeing David Belle or vintage footage of Georges Hébert, or contestants on American Ninja Warrior sure is cool, and we tend to forget that it’s a long way from the day they began training, however early in life.

I have been posting some pictures on Instagram (follow me @philippetil) of various spots where I train myself or my clients, as well as photos or clips of drills anyone can try. The prerequisites are to have fun and keep practicing till getting better, until eventually, the movement, wherever it sits on the difficulty scale, becomes “natural”. A simple vault over a bench can be super easy for the advanced, difficult for the novice. But when the novice “owns it”, it’s one step closer to the next level of difficulty.

The clip below shows a fun range of things one can do, which look simple, but require a minimal level of agility and stick-to-itiveness to not bail out of some moves, but when you do, it’s safe to do so.


And, since it’s difficult, although I suspect American Ninja Warrior type facilities will start popping up soon, with either fixed or modular obstacles, many parks are actually offering what I recently thought was on the endangered parks list: Parkour-like stations, obstacles, the very kind we were complaining about were needed and non-present. 3 such parks in the Santa Monica, CA, area offer fantastic options.

One is Yahoo! Park, off of Broadway and 26th St. There is a set of parallel bars, monkey bars, 2 pull-up bars of different levels, and a free-standing ladder. The park also sports a nice little grassy area and a small makeshift track. Check it out!

Another is Clover Park, off of Ocean Park Blvd, right behind the Santa Monica Airport. This is where I’ve been playfully training recently (I mean playfully because I had fun doing it, but it doesn’t mean I didn’t exert or push myself). There is a mile-long track with “obstacles” or stations along the way: a progressive vault (low to medium high), balance beams (squared off or rounded), pull-up bars, standing ladders, monkey bars, incline posts, rope-climb, posts to climb, dip-station/low vaulting station, push-up bars, step-up or jump-up & balance station, parallel bars to swing, dip or hand walk etc. Explore its photos here.

Finally, the most famous one is the original Muscle Beach (not the one in Venice for bodybuilders, I am referring to the one South of the Santa Monica Pier) with the traveling rings, regular rings, rope climb, parallel bars, parallettes, pull-up bars, balance beams, gymnastics “mushrooms”, twisted poles, boulders, for kids and adults alike! Plus it’s on the beach! Take a look!

Don’t know what to do? Get the Fundamental Exercises, as well as the Functional Exercises and pick a few moves in various categories. Don’t dismiss the easy moves, as they can build your confidence and are great on a low-energy day, and don’t ignore the hard ones, as even attempting them is work in itself. My friend Adam T. Glass once posted online that “your body tracks that”, meaning all reps count, good or bad ones.

Natural Progression

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So many systems and methods out there, right?

Complication of the simple. From complication to compilation, here are a few clips of my son Fletcher, who is now 5 years old. Before any comments come back at me that I am an irresponsible dad who can injure his child, know this: Fletcher has been a very active child since before he could walk. He’s naturally been inclined to run, climb, jump on, jump off obstacles and keep running. He may have seen me lift a kettebell or barbell, and he naturally did shoulder presses, barbell curls, deadlifts, jumps, climbs etc. He loves to run, hitting is his favorite thing in T-ball, and when he found boxing gloves at home, he put them on and asked me to spar. We’ve been wrestling and roughhousing playfully for as long as I can remember (and his 1 year old brother now joins us in epic ground mêlée fights). He asks me to take him surfing, I don’t push or encourage anything, other than consistency and stick-to-itiveness so he doesn’t quit and learn effort and persistence.

The larger point I want to make is progression: he started low, he started young. As he gets older, he climbs higher, jumps from higher ground, but he’s also taller, so elevation is relative: the absolute goes up, but the proportional remains the same. The skill is engrained. There is minimal coaching, where applicable. But if he can do something well, pain-free, and wants to repeat it, I will not deny him the joy. The risk is calculated. The only risk is avoidance, because denying him his true nature is not what I am about.

In this clip here, he jumps off an elevation (depth jump) from a standing position:

In this one, he starts from a seated position:

The jump can be improved by having him swing his legs more, but since the “wall” doesn’t allow for a full swing of the legs to build momentum, the thing to do is to push off the wall using the hands, which Fletcher didn’t do. Not as good a jump, but he made up for it by rolling and increasing the duration of his landing, therefore reducing impact. And using ONLY the hips, he is building the biomechanical skill needed for swings, for instance. A little coaching into a natural movement.

In this last clip, he is simply walking on the equivalent of a balance beam: similar width, he can fall into or out of the boat he is playing on. He is training not only balance, but to work from an elevation.

You know how you can walk on a beam on inch of the ground, but fear doing so if 20 feet off the ground? Yeah, well, here, he’s learning to not be afraid of that.

So, there you have it, a sneak preview of jumping drills from The Natural Method’s 3rd book, due out in a couple of weeks, and balance work from the fundamentals mentioned in Book 2.

Leverage In Arm Positions

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Photo from The Natural Method: Fundamental Exercises (Book 2) translate by Philippe Til

In The Natural Method, especially in the second book where it is outlined, Georges Hébert lists the benefits as follows (excerpt):


The fundamental arm positions produce the same benefits/effects as the Upright Stance, but with greater intensity when it comes to stabilization of the shoulders backwards and the shortening of the muscles that bring the shoulder blades together.

The movement of “hands at neck” also acts very energetically on the realigning of the cervical curve.

Note: The fundamental arm positions, when executed dynamically (as movements) can be either performed in place, or preferably while walking/marching.”

Additionally, and I invite you to experiment this yourself, each position affects not only your posture, but your leverage and how you “top load” the body. An easy way to understand that concept is by taking a popular exercise like the Squat and go through the variations of how we load the body with weight and where:

  • Barbell Back Squat.
  • Barbell Front Squat.
  • Zercher Barbell Squat.

I am not of course discussing kettlebell goblet squat or double kettlebell front squat, or using a sand bag for the same moves (which is well-taught in Josh Henkin’s DVRT system, or Dynamic Variable Resistance Training), rather discussing the placement of the load in these variations and how the same weight may feel heavier or lighter from one variation to the next.

Try even something simple like some sit-ups with your feet anchored to a stall bar’s bottom rung or with a partner holding your ankles (and try that Janda-style too!) and let me know how that feels!


Workshop Syllabus Bulletpoints

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Photo from The Natural Method: Fundamental Exercises (Book 2) translate by Philippe Til


If you are reading this and want to register, click here and bring a friend and get a special discount of 2 people for $229 (save $129 on the second admission, or almost $65 each).


I realize many these days tries to come up with some new method of training. Marketing gimmicks are running amuck on the ole “Interweb”. There have never been more public “secrets of fitness” than in the last 2 years, if I were to believe the numerous newsletters I get from people telling me they have the secret(s) I am missing in my training.

The best tools for training are your body and things you can get your hands on, to lift, put back down, throw, catch, climb on etc. The best tools for weight loss are your silverware and that hole in the bottom third of your face, or quarter depending on your facial symmetry. (Thank you, James Neidlinger, for “the best tools for weight loss” arsenal tip from your recent Facebook post).

To placate the skeptics or explain to the curious, below is what we’ll cover on October 24 at The Natural Method Workshop, in Los Angeles, CA, at The Gym @ Hayden.

It first starts with the upright posture which aligns and prepares the body for movement. Without a strong upright posture the movements taught will not be as effective. Once we are comfortable with the upright posture then we can start to explore movements in the entire kinetic chain.

  1. Arm Movements: positions at hips, shoulders, chest, neck and derivatives, as well as why we do them, what they do and how.
  2. Leg Movements: various “bends”/flexion/slits. Combine with 1.
  3. Suspension: hang and do leg stuff. Or lie down if you can’t hang to get similar benefits*. Btw, that noise also works your Dear Abbies. And hits the body parts from 2, like, hard, and from 1, but differently. And yes, that’s some aspects of pull-ups, but not limited to. This isn’t a class on pull-up variations.
  4. Support Movements: stuff that looks like push-ups, but isn’t limited to. This isn’t a class on push-up variations, though you may recognize or learn some.
  5. Balance Movements: equilibrium. Although symmetry is also balance, this is more literal. Combine with 1 and 2.
  6. Hopping Movements: not jumping. Hopping. Not like a bunny. More like jump rope (without the rope), or skipping as some call it. Not skipping like a kid, though I recommend you do that. It’s fun and beneficial and my friend Paul Daniels once taught a class where some people forgot how to do that. Combine with 1.
  7. Trunk Movements: the torso, the thoracic stuff, aspects of the core. Flexion, extension, twisting, rotation. Combine with 1 & 2. Wakes up your vestibular system. You need that.
  8. Breathing: why cover that last? Because now, we get to redo everything 1-7 but make it even better.
  9. Add tools and repeat 1-7 with 8 throughout.

And you’ll learn how to weave it all together for durations of 5, 10, 20 minutes or whatever time you need/have/want and whatever goal you aim for.

So, people, get ready to move, well and throughout the day. (quality and quantity guaranteed). And when we’re done, you’ll be tired and happy and free. Like getting some. And the next day, you’ll feel it before you’ll get to talk about it.

This is just a taste of what can be achieved with the method.

Ideally I would love to teach the method over multiple days covering other movement qualities like: walking, running, climbing, throwing, lifting, rescuing, swimming without water, jumping and more. But in 8 short hours, you get plenty of coverage of the fundamentals so you can explore and even program.

*benefits vs goals will be explained. Benefits are things that stay the same, no matter what the goals are. Like opening up the chest vs building a bigger chest.

On Jumping (post 1 of 2)

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Jumping consists of giving the body a sufficient impulse in order to cover a distance or any obstacle in one leap.

It is important to distinguish:

1)   The educative jump on a prepared surface with a predetermined obstacle.

2)   The applied jump with real obstacles.

These two types of jumps are useful, both from a practical standpoint as well as physical development.


The effects of jumps on the body are the following:

1)   They engage the most important parts of the body, particularly the cardiorespiratory functions;

2)   They have a powerful action on the muscular development of the lower limbs and the abdomen, especially jumps without momentum;

3)   They develop agility and hand-eye coordination;

4)   They strengthen the feet and ankles and train the body to sustain various kinds of impact;

5)   They promote flexibility and a sense of equilibrium/balance to avoid bad falls.

Applied jumps or over real obstacles do not differ from educative jumps in their mechanism of execution. In addition to the benefits described above, they provide a mental benefit, because they help overcome the apprehension brought upon the obstacle and to dominate, in certain situations, the instinctive feeling of fear. They thus promote becoming calm, cold-blooded and with a spirit of quick-thinking.

Jumping is not just a form of exercise of unquestionable functionality. Its regular practice helps avoid many injuries such as: sprains, contusions, fractures etc, which often are due to a lack of balance in the falls or lack of specific training of the feet and ankles.



Legs Training Preparation

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Photo from The Natural Method: Fundamental Exercises (Book 2) translate by Philippe Til

Last week I listed the many benefits of jumping. Let’s jump back, pun intended, to the fundamental exercises listed in the second book of The Natural Method trilogy, the jumping chapter being part of the 3rd book on functional training (in its “complete” meaning, not the reductive misunderstood concept of asinine drills often seen and described as “functional”).

As Hébert wrote, the drills in the second book constitute a primer, a prerequisite for proper development and preparation of the joints, muscles and movement patterns associated with the major aspects of being a well-rounded athlete: walking, running, jumping, swimming, climbing, lifting, throwing, self-defense and games/sports/manual labor.

Photo from The Natural Method: Fundamental Exercises (Book 2) translate by Philippe Til

So, in order to be able to jump well, it is important to not neglect the training of the legs. Here’s a excerpt (abridged from the chapter on leg training) from the Fundamental Exercises:

“Main benefits of the leg movements.

 Toe elevation acts on the extensors of the foot (gastrocnemius and soleus muscles making up the calf).

 The elevation of the leg mainly works on the thigh flexors (iliopsoas, anterior forward of the femoral triceps), the leg extensors (femoral triceps) as well as foot extensors, and secondarily on the abdominals and trunk extensors. 

 The lateral elevation of the leg works on the abductors of the upper leg (buttocks), the abdominals and especially the lateral trunk flexors (lumbar quadratus, external and internal obliques, core). 

The elevation of the leg backwards works on the extensors of the upper leg (buttocks), as well as the spine and the abdominals. 

 The angle of lean of the body in relation to a vertical line must be very small in order to not lose balance/equilibrium, during a movement.

Flexion of the lower limbs works on the leg and foot extensors (quadriceps, gastrocnemius and soleus). Flexion with spread legs laterally has an extra action on the adductors and the thigs.

The forward slit has an action on the straightening of flexion of the spine and stabilization of the shoulders.

Example of a movement combining leg and arm movements.

Photo from The Natural Method: Fundamental Exercises (Book 2) translate by Philippe Til

Forward slit: 1) with both arms elevated in line with the trunk. 2) with one arm up, one arm back. 3) With both arms extended backwards. 4) with lateral straight arm raise, palms facing up.


The backwards slit has a very intense action on the abdominal muscles, which workt through by getting shorter, if the alignment of the Upright Stance is repected.

The lateral slit works on the oblique musculature and the sacral-lumbar muscles on the opposite side.

in all leg movements, the trunk is never flexed at the hips, not forward, not backwards, not laterally.”