Simple Ways How To Exercise Like A Minimalist
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How to exercise like a minimalist?
We all deserve to live in a healthy body to move freely.
As you practice a minimalist life to gain maximum freedom, it is crucial to spare some of your free time to take care of your valuable body.
Because our bodies are built to move, and there can be no freedom when lacking physical health.
Minimalist exercises should fulfill the following criteria:
require minimum time
require minimum equipment
simple to execute for anyone
can be done anywhere and anytime
help strengthen your physique for day-to-day tasks
The most challenging thing to overcome for someone who wants to start improving their fitness level is sticking to a routine and transforming training into a natural habit.
A helpful strategy that can help you stick with an exercise routine without getting lazy or finding new excuses to skip your workout is to practice some minimalist exercises that are fast and easy.
And once your minimalist workouts feel natural, you’ll enjoy them, see great results, and never again find silly excuses to stay on the couch instead of improving your fitness.
So stick around and let me show you my simple ways to exercise like a minimalist.
No gym needed
After trying various different sports, including basketball, volleyball, kickboxing, triathlon, and CrossFit, it’s been working out in a gym that stuck with me longest. I included gym workouts to increase my strength for those sports for over 20 years.
Still, I quit my gym membership last year.
It became time-consuming, I no longer enjoyed it, and I found better ways to train more efficiently at home and outdoors with minimum equipment, which saved me time and money.
Plus, I love spending time outdoors, so I asked myself why not also workout outdoors.
You don’t need machines, dumbbells, and other fancy equipment to keep yourself fit. In fact, you don’t need anything at all except yourself.
You are not built to sit for hours and hours in front of a screen while letting your body degenerate. Your body is built to move and a machine by itself.
So as a minimalist, I focus my training for maximum results with basic bodyweight movements, all of which you can do in your living room, outdoors, or just about anywhere.
Now, if you love going to your gym, then please don’t quit. Keep on doing what you love. But if you are looking for quick and easy alternatives, you’re in the right place.
Back to basics: the best minimalist exercises
The basic exercises are functional movements that support our everyday random tasks like running after a bus, carrying groceries, lifting our kids, walking up the stairs, standing up after a three-hour meeting, you get the idea. Secondly, they should prevent injuries.
Our focus is to get fit and stay that way for as long as we can. That’s why we can calmly ignore those quick fix 30-days to get ripped or other magic programs that preach short term results out there, which are not attainable for all people.
We aim for long-term health and fitness and will do so with simple movements that anybody can do.
My minimalist exercises focus on:
Increasing body control
Decreasing injury risks
They strengthen these 6 major muscle groups:
And include the following movements:
Legs: squats, lunges
Back: vertical and horizontal pull - pull-ups, rows, deadlifts, back extensions
Chest: vertical and horizontal push - push-ups, dips
Core: sit-ups, crunches, leg raises, planks
Arms: biceps curls, triceps extensions
Shoulders: shoulder press, lateral and front raises
Additionally, I like to include exercises that simulate some of our daily movements:
Loaded carries - dumbbell walk, kettlebell walk
Cardio - Walking, running, cycling, swimming, rope skipping, jumping, jacks, burpees
All these movements are easy to execute, and you can do them anytime and anywhere, also on your vacation or when your kids are sick, and you need to stay at home.
And that’s it. There is no need for fancy movements like muscle-ups, clean & jerks, or front levers (if you don’t know any of these, that’s totally fine, ignore them ;)).
Minimalist exercises mixed in functional workouts will get you on the right path to improving your health and fitness, and gaining more body control.
The minimalist exercise equipment
To spice up my workouts and make them more challenging, I do use some equipment. But they are as minimal as can be that I can carry them anywhere I want.
My favorite minimalist workout equipment is, hands down, my gymnastic rings.
I love them because of these enormous benefits:
they are versatile (can be attached pretty much anywhere - ceiling, pull up bar, tree branch)
adjustable in height to perform both push and pull exercises according to your fitness level
easier on your joints (you can move freely on them compared to stationary pull up bars)
stimulate deep muscles and work on muscles you didn’t know you had
improve your mobility and flexibility
build strength faster due to the higher level of intensity
Alternatively, you can also use TRX sling trainers for lighter movements, though you cannot do dips and pull-ups on them.
Apart from that, I also use a Soft Kettlebell. It’s a sandbag in the form of a kettlebell, which can be used for kettlebell swings, deadlifts, bent-over rows, overhead presses, squats, lunges, and as an additional weight for running or walking.
That’s about it. You don't need more. Sure, if you are a firefighter, marine, or a professional athlete, you might need some more tools, but for me, this works out perfectly fine.
With this two minimalist equipment, I program my workouts with varied functional movements to ensure my body is fit for my everyday life.
The minimalist workout routine
I am a big fan of high-intensity short workouts supported by long walks, running, hiking, and cycling.
Bodyweight workout programs used in Calisthenics and Freeletics are valuable sources of constantly varied workouts with functional movements.
For good reasons: you can train anytime and anywhere without almost any equipment in a short amount of time. All you need is yourself and a timer to follow specific programs. And their full-body workouts will make you sweat every time.
What I do is a 20-30 minute workout, 5-6 days a week, with 1 or two rest days. But I don’t follow my plan very strictly.
Sometimes I’d train every day or only 3-4 times a week, depending on my time and mood. But I never skip a workout for 3 days in a row. I think I’d go crazy if I did that.
For me, the most efficient and fun training program includes high intensity exercises Tabata way, meaning targeted movements executed nonstop for 20 seconds with a 10 seconds break, 8 times in a row. You can also do 40 seconds on 20 seconds off for longer workouts.
But I also do workouts with exercises where there is no timer included. Or do one day Tabata and the next day exercises with slow, high-quality movements.
I like to split my workouts according to the correlating muscle groups to let my muscles get their deserved rest. I also love to include bodyweight exercises that incorporate cardio, like sprinting, burpees, and rope skipping.
Here is a sample of my minimalist workout plan:
Day 1: Legs + core
5 min cycling to the park
4 min Tabata sprinting / 1 min break
4 min Tabata jumping squats / 1 min break
4 min Tabata walking lunges / 1 min break
4 min Tabata leg raises
Day 2: Back + biceps
5 min running to the park to a monkey bar (or a tree branch)
5x10-12 ring pull-ups
5x10-12 horizontal ring rows
5x10-12 ring curls
Day 3: Chest + Triceps
100 jumping jacks
Tabata push-ups or ring-push-ups
5x15 chair or ring-dips
Tabata ring/bar/bar triceps extensions
Day 4: Rest
Day 5: Shoulders + Core
10 min running
3x10 kettlebell overhead press each side
3x10 kettlebell lateral raise each side
3x15 upright row
4x10 hanging leg raises (on a monkey bar, rings, or tree branch)
3x60 sec. front plank
Tabata side plank
Day 6: 30 min cycling, running, swimming, or longer walk/hike
Day 7: 30 min yoga
Because I want everybody to be fit for whatever life may throw at you, I encourage you to implement any kind of movement during the day, even if it is just working out for 10 minutes.
Inspiration for minimalist exercises
If you want to train even more minimally, without any equipment, you can also follow these healthy and fit resources for inspiration:
Nerd Fitness and the best bodyweight workouts for beginners
The Minimalists and their 18 minutes daily workout routine
Matt D’Avella’s workout routine for not so minimalist biceps
Ido Portal and his seriously mind-blowing movement culture
Freeletics: a whole new universe of bodyweight workout
Calisthenics: everything you need to know
I hope you got a good idea of how to exercise like a minimalist. It’s not primarily about aesthetics.
It’s about stimulating your body for what it is built for: efficient moving.
so take it slow when you are just starting out
but stay consistent and try to incorporate some movement daily
do intentional lifting and split your training for the big muscle groups
train your full body, with free weights, or perhaps with my favorite minimalist workout equipment: the gymnastic rings
train in a gym, in the park, or where ever possible, but just do it!
pace yourself according to your fitness level
push yourself but stay safe
keep it short and train in moderation for long-term success
And if you are not there yet, still do something, literally anything with movement, before doing nothing!
Incorporate functional exercises whenever and wherever you can for a fit and healthy lifestyle.
Remember, you want more freedom. To move around freely, you need a healthy body!
SHARING IS CARING