MINIMALIST FITNESS: A NOTHING TO IT WORKOUT GUIDE

You live in a tiny apartment, don’t have a car to get to the YMCA, and can’t afford a gym membership. Plus, you’re just starting out at your job and you’re working so many hours that squeezing in a workout seems absolutely impossible. Especially if you want a night out with your friends.

Are your fitness aspirations doomed?

Of course not. A good workout can be at your fingertips, even with little or no equipment

WORKING OUT WITH NOTHING

The trick is being aware of your movements and using your own ability to create resistance that makes every effort count. By using your own resistance (focusing completely on the muscles you are using for any movement, be it a push-up or squat, and putting them to work), you recognize what that muscle is doing as part of any given movement, and can work it harder, gaining better strength and muscle tone, with no free weight in sight.

The key is not to waste the move, but to be totally engaged in it, targeting your muscles from start to finish. You’ll know if you’re doing it right because you can feel your muscle tighten as you curl your bicep. 

HIT THE FLOOR BUT DON’T SLEEP THERE

There are so many exercises that you can do in a small square of space that a trip to the gym may not be necessary, at least not when you’re first getting started.

Are you surprised that so many inmates come out of prison completely ripped, even though they might not have access to a gym? Stuck in their cells with little to do, they took advantage of their free time and their small space and created a workout routine that worked. (It’s possible, of course, that they were just toughening up to stave off an array of threats on the inside, but whatever. The results were the same.) Now don’t rush out and get yourself incarcerated. There are much better ways to enjoy a heightened level of fitness via a minimalist workout.

You too can also get a great workout at home, whether your workout space is in front of the TV or on your bedroom floor.

Some exercises to try:

The opportunities are endless, so not having access to gym equipment can no longer be your excuse for not working out.

CREATING A COMPACT GYM

Of course, after a few months of working out using the force of your own body’s resistance, you’ll be seeing results. And that might inspire you to up the ante a little bit.

Here are a few items to consider, none of which will break the bank – or take up much space if that is a key factor.

  • A step, which is a quick way to amp up a cardio workout as well as help you get increased muscle tone in the hips, thighs, and glutes.
  • Fitness bands, which add resistance to both upper and lower body workouts, revving up the moves and adding a challenge.
  • A jump rope. Aside of transforming you into a kid again, a jump rope is a great asset when it comes to cardio, and you can do it in the house on those days when weather prevents walking or running outside. Plus, it only requires a few minutes to get your heart rate pumping to melt fat away.
  • Free weights. Having light weights to use during cardio routines and heavier weights for strength training is enough. You won’t need a full set. Adjustable dumbbells will work just fine.
  • A few videos. Try to go for videos that include mix-and-match workouts. These kettlebell videos offer workouts for men and women and allow you to change them up with every workout to prevent boredom.

There are also a few other options that will cost very little cash and take up no space.

PULL-UP BARS

Great for doing a variety of exercises and working certain muscle groups that many people neglect. They allow you to work on your back, abs, forearms, biceps, and other muscle groups all in the comfort of your home and without the monthly fees of a gym. What’s the cost? Generally, a quality pull-up bar can be purchased for $20 or less.  Or you can always DIY! (We’re big fans of that here)

PUSH-UP EQUIPMENT OR NONE

The Perfect Pushup which again costs $20 or less and can be stored under your bed or in other really small places. Many people find these to be fun and a nice alternative to traditional push-ups. Or just save the cash and knock out some regular push-ups. If you need more variety to try – dive-bombers, clapping push-ups, or super slow push-ups (Lower yourself to a count of five and then explode up off the ground).

Do you need to go out and purchase everything listed above? No way! In fact, it’s best if you don’t. One or two items will do you just fine without breaking the bank. Hell, it might not even do damage to your piggy bank or change jar. And as mentioned earlier, all of this stuff can be easily stored, unlike other equipment.

SHORT BURSTS FOR GREAT RESULTS

While it’s clear that going minimalist is easy when it comes to equipment, what about those who have no time for a workout, and use the excuse of “I’m too busy” to prevent them from ever getting to the gym or hitting the trail for a regular run?

Lots of people have limited time, but that’s no excuse.

There’s a reason, after all, why those “10 Minute Abs” workouts are so popular. Everyone is looking for a quick fix. That instant gratification.

But the experts behind those workouts know that if you do the right kinds of exercise, you can work out for 10 minutes a day and still see results.

The key is making sure that you’re making the most of every one of those minutes, working as hard as possible so you don’t waste time.

Instead of a 10-minute walk around the block, throw in bursts of running to rev up the workout. And rather than spending a few minutes performing one weightlifting movement, add some squats, (Consider a favorite of “The Biggest Loser” guru and newest Crossfit kool-aid drinker Bob Harper and merge both), pushups, or other big-impact moves that work a lot of key muscle groups at the same time.

It’s a matter of getting the biggest bang for your buck, and it can work.

A short workout routine at the start of a workout program is also a really effective training tool, because it makes it much easier to get into the habit of a workout when you only have to invest 10 minutes. I mean, really. Who can’t find 10 minutes?

Try a Tabata protocol. Pick 4-5 exercises that will hit all your major muscle groups. Each exercise will be completed in the following fashion.

20 seconds of all-out effort followed by 10 seconds of rest. You will repeat this 8 times for each exercise. If you are confused just ask me.

  • Squats, 20 seconds of work, 10 seconds of rest; 8 sets
  • Pull-ups, 20 seconds of work, 10 seconds of rest; 8 sets
  • Push-ups, 20 seconds of work, 10 seconds of rest; 8 sets
  • Sit-ups. 20 seconds of work, 10 seconds of rest; 8 sets

Exercise descriptions are in the resources section. Or you can try the 30 second on/30 second off workout at homeI also have beginner and advanced body weight routines.

Who needs the gym?

If you start with big goals of getting to the gym six days a week to work out for an hour or more, it’s likely that you’ll have missed a workout before the first week is up. And that will feel like a failure, making it more likely that you’ll throw in the sweaty towel and grab a bag of chips on the way home from work instead of hitting the gym.

Instead, start with short bursts of working out at home instead of setting a lofty goal of going to the gym. Many people don’t stick with the gym because despite what seems like only a 60-minute workout, the average person devotes about 2 to 3 hours per workout. You have the commute to and from the gym as well as the preparation, packing, and cleanup. Oh, also there’s the tendency of most people to do a bit of socializing while there. All of these extra things take extra time and can make gym workouts a major turn-off for some fitness noobs as well as the gym veteran.

A quick 10-minute home workout can be done without all of that. In fact, you might not even need to change into workout clothes – depending on what you’re wearing. Jeans, underwear, or pajamas are all acceptable at home. Naked workout anyone?! That’s a joke…

SWITCH THINGS UP

But remember, if you do the same workout, day after day, your body will begin to adapt in as little as a month. That’s where interval training comes in. Interval training helps keep the body surprised, and is one of the keys to successful results.

When those who exercise hit a plateau and stop seeing results, it is because they’ve stopped challenging their body, which has grown completely used to running around the block, lifting a few weights or riding the same 15-mile route on your bike.

A great way to change that is to throw in a few fast bursts of running into a walking workout, add a few hills to a biking workout, or add a little extra weight to amplify a weight routine. Switching it up reignites the body, and gets it back into fat-burning and muscle-building mode much quicker, ensuring that you’ll continue to see the results you want.

What can you start doing tomorrow to make sure you are getting in your workout? How can you simplify?

Justin

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