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Questions for Those Who Train as a Minimalist

Good afternoon fellow physical culture enthusiasts,

I try to post when I think there is something that I can uniquely add to a discussion or there are some very specific questions I’d like to see answered. Something I have been experimenting with and trying to evolve philosophically is the concept of minimalist training. I love the notion of receiving the most bang for your buck for doing the least bit possible training wise.

Now I don’t want anyone to misunderstand minimalist training with lazy training. Training is awesome and fun so it’s hard to say you only want to do the bare minimum. I’m talking about effective training that keeps the barrier for entry low so on days where you have only 20 minutes, you can still get an effective workout and progress. For me this means making only 1 to 2 exercises mandatory and having everything else just as “icing on the cake”. I know 5/3/1 has a similar concept and if I was strictly just lifting, that’s probably what I would do.

So friends, I am curious as to whether or not anyone else is interested in this concept. If so, how do you structure your minimalist training? Do you like to “get in and get out” as I do? Or do you like to spend a lot longer in the gym. Please feel free to discuss.

Cheers,

Tim

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I think a lot of the darden 30-10-30 things are like 10 minutes. Maybe they will chime in.

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I’m just curious as to what others who are interested in this concept could add to the conversation. Yes I would love to hear from those that do darden 30-10-30. I don’t know a thing about that program.

@entsminger

At the moment I do 30 10 30 and I’ve yet to finish a workout in 10’minutes. My workouts last at least 25 minutes but I’m not doing it by the book. I enjoy my workouts very much , I love the feeling I get and given a choice I’d prefer to be in the gym longer than shorter. The actual working out part is where it’s at for me not waiting for after the workout to see the results. If it was about seeing the results of my workouts I would have quit long ago as real visual results are rare.
Scott

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That sounds great entsminger! I’m glad to hear that you have a program that is giving you the benefits you desire. What specifically do you do in your routine?

My love for the chin up is due to it’s ease of set up (there isn’t any). I just go grab the bar and start pulling. I guess I do add weight with a dip belt, but that is pretty easy.

I try to pick about 4 exercises and set them up as super sets. I don’t do quick rests very often, just quicker than if I were to do straight sets. So if I need 5 minutes between hard bench sets, I might only need to rest 3 minutes before rowing, and 3 minutes after rowing. Just gets more work done in the same time.

I work back a lot, so lower body days, I pair my squats or deadlifts with chins. Upper body days, I pair bench or OHP with rows usually. I’ll do two variations of each (so 4 exercises total). After I do isolation stuff usually.

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Yes sir! I do a similar thing with my supplemental exercises. To save time, I typically pair up 2 exercises and do jump sets with them. For my main work, I typically do just straight sets.

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I wrote it on my log a while ago but I do a push pull routine. Pull is:
Pullovers
BNTA
Seated row
Curls or some sort
Rev curl
Push;
I do double chest machine press
Laterals
Tricep pushdown or extension
Legs get done on off days
I mostly do cardio for legs
Scott

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Push/ pulls are great for structuring routines. How long have you been doing this routine for? What makes you like it so much?

Chin-ups are a lot like potato chips for me. No matter how many you do, you never feel like you’ve done enough. I always feel like there is always room for more chin-ups. They are such a good exercise.

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I’ve Been at it about 3 months or so. For most of my life I trained to failure every workout roughly doing the same exercises. I had great workouts but they required a lot of recovery time. I rarely made good progress. With this 30 10 30 I seem to be working the muscle as hard as my to failure workouts but I recover very quickly and I’m making noticeable progress with reps and weight almost all the time. It digs as deep an inroad as failure but doesn’t tax my system like failure workouts do.
Scott

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Well it sounds like you have found a very good program that works for you. That really is what it’s about.

This thread would not be complete without @ActivitiesGuy’s input

with all thise HIT / Heavy Duty type workouts , you overtraining CNS and undertraining the muscles . That’s why take so much time to recover from singlr workout,
just my 5 c

when i have only 10-15 Minute for training i do a circle with out rest.
Pullups, Pushups, Squads

Thanks for the tag…

This has been how I have been training for the last 4ish years. I would indeed probably like to train a bit more (longer workouts), which I certainly did in my younger days, but I have a wife and kids and job, that’s the deal. I also prefer to work out every day, so it’s more practical for me to do 20 minutes per day as opposed to 60 minutes 3 days per week or something like that.

I’ve dallied around with various minimalist thingies over the years (a few runs with daily-dose-deadlifts, daily-squatting, high frequency pullups, daily kettlebell workouts, etc). I’ve diversified a bit of late but still basically sticking to 20ish minutes per day. Here’s a basic weekly template of what I’m doing at the moment, though I occasionally have to flip the days around to accommodate weather, travel, how I’m feeling, etc.

Sunday - DE Box Squat (8 doubles)
Monday - Conditioning (2-3 Mile Run)
Tuesday - DE Deadlift (10-15 singles)
Wednesday - Conditioning (wild card)
Thursday - “ME” Back Squat (up to heavy-ish double)
Friday - Conditioning (2-3 Mile Run)
Saturday - “ME” Deadlift (up to heavy-ish single)

What you see there is what you get. I just do the one lift a day and that’s it. Sometimes I screw around with the hip circle to warm up, but never do assistance that follows the main lift - by then I’m trying to get back inside to work or the kids.

I’m not remotely saying this is optimal for training, just that it’s what I do. Fits into my daily life, makes me feel just fit enough that I can do most things without embarrassing myself. Definitely could stand to diversify a bit more as I know I’m plenty “strong” by normal-people standards but not as “athletic” as I once was…as my kids get a bit older hoping to start fooling with them (playing basketball, throwing a football around, etc) in the hopes of regaining a bit of that athleticism I once had.

EDIT: also, if someone asked me what I thought was the simplest yet highly effective minimalist training, I have a couple ideas…

  1. I’m pretty sure you could stay in really great shape if you did something like alternate deadlift singles at 60-80% of 1RM + sets of 3-5 pullups E2MOM for 20 minutes (e.g. 10 deadlift singles and 10 sets of 3-5 pullups). I would consider this, but my pull-up bar is outside my house and barbell is inside, so it’s not that convenient.

  2. I’m also pretty sure you could stay in really great shape if you just did 100 kettlebell snatches with each hand every day.

  3. I’m also pretty sure you could stay in really great shape if you did some sandbag cleans and carries for 20 minutes every day.

You could always mix and match these things for endless fun.

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Thank you very kindly for the response and insight good sir. What your routine looks like is something that the “everyman” could do and be the better for it. I think it looks like a great routine and what I like about it is that you do something everyday.

I thought I was the only one that used the term “wild card” for a random, unscheduled workout.

In a world of social media distractions with fitness personalities pushing their new, “better” routines, it’s nice to see people sticking to what is sensible. No fuss, no fluff, just daily hard work would be a philosophy that most could benefit from.

Right you are. People seem to overcomplicate this stuff.

Sometimes I just like to get my main exercises done when I’m not feeling up to it. Then later on in the day if I get a “second wind”, I’ll just do some assistance calisthenics exercises interspersed throughout the day. That way throughout the day, I’m getting more training volume that I didn’t get during my official workout.

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Dinosaur Training by Brooks Kubik has a section on minimal training that might interest you.

I consider minimal to mean movement plane execution. Say you could Squat 100 reps flawlessly in one set. Movement patterns. Practice.

Additional planes and patterns only enforce themselves. Some say Front Squats carry over to Regular Squats. So you can do different exercises in one session or practice one only. Dan John one lift a day.

Minimal reps is definitely the 64 million dollar prize. Who wouldn’t want to get jacked lifting only 1 set of 3? So I keep lots of the variables static and just practice different moves with different loads the same boring way. The mechanical boredom carries over to the ball field or ring where fun and strength will show. Use the gym as a means to an end not the end in itself. The gym is a set of tools that help us achieve some sort of sublime understanding that we could fck sht up elsewhere. People that like fighting can see most people around them are lightweights so it doesnt really take that much strength and conditioning to survive the Zombies. lol my .02