Hello friends, and welcome to this month’s Joyinmovement newsletter,
Recently I’ve been writing quite a lot about taking a minimalistic approach to our lifestyles, and someone asked me a great question! “Can there be a minimalist approach to fitness?”
The reason I enjoy questions like this is because they get me both thinking about and clarifying my philosophy and own fitness strategies.
Fitness can be complicated! That may be the understatement of the month:)
But there is a way to simplify your workouts. Taking a minimalist approach to fitness allows you to focus on the basics for maintaining fitness and wellness. With this mindset, you do not necessarily need to invest in a special workout or product; gimmicks are just clutter. The BASICS are enough to get you fit and keep you healthy.
This simplistic approach can be helpful during those seasons, whether they are weeks or months, when time is particularly limited. Rather than abandoning your routine during stressful times, it’s better to do just do what you can, say a minimal 20-minute workout, and appreciate how much better you feel after a few key exercises.
I’ve been trying this myself, and it’s working well. At night before dinner I’ve been adding in some Yoga: a few sun salutations and then some standing poses to open up my hips.
When fitness routines or tasks in general are complicated, it is easy to procrastinate or put them off all together. Making things simple means you are more likely to stick with the routine on a consistent basis. As the convenience of the minimalist approach sinks in, you may find yourself abandoning complicated or long workouts.
If you’re feeling like becoming more of a fitness minimalist, here are some basic guidelines.
The Three Essential Components
There are three essential components to include in your minimalist workouts: mobility, strength, and cardio. Cardio and strength training are often mixed together in high-intensity interval training (HIIT), circuit training, supersets or other interval-type workouts.
As a minimalist, focus on exercises that utilize big muscle groups to increase metabolic demand and functional fitness. Exercises such as squats, push-ups and lunges are the basic ones, while small-muscle exercises such as bicep curls and calf raises are less crucial. Lifting, pushing and pulling things as you would in daily life are the movements to focus on in these workouts, so there’s no special equipment required. Performing these movements while training will help you perform these activities with more energy and confidence in everyday life.
In general, the fitness industry standards recommend performing 75-150 minutes of cardiovascular exercise, dependent on intensity. The more intense the exercise, the less time needed. Healthy adults are also encouraged to complete two to three days of strength training to increase and maintain lean muscle tissue. The minimalist approach can fit within these guidelines, with a focus on the most demanding or what I call the big bang for your buck moves mentioned in the previous paragraph. Simply put, if you work harder and smarter, you can decrease the time you spend working out and still achieve results.
Don’t Forget Your Mobility Component
Your minimalist workout should include a few minutes of preparatory or warm-up movements. This is your mobility component. I suggest neural warm-ups like the ones Z-Health teaches. This portion of your workout need not be extensive, but can make a big difference in the quality of your workout as a whole. It also allows for mental preparation and focus.
You can accumulate cardiovascular activity in a variety of ways. Activities of daily living such as physical chores, walking, or outdoor recreation activities are great ways to accumulate heart-healthy cardio movement. Another approach is to perform HIIT-style training within or at the end of a workout. Instead of spending large chunks of low-intensity time on a treadmill, a few sets of challenging high-intensity exercises such as burpees, high knees, or sprints should only take five to 10 minutes, and can provide results comparable to twice the amount of low-to-moderate intensity cardio.
You can become a fitness minimalist by making the most of your workouts and performing the most impactful exercises. Keep your workouts simple and attainable, yet physically challenging. When you feel confident in your workout, you are more likely to be consistent, which is key to creating and maintaining optimal health and fitness.
I hope it helps to shine some light on what it might mean to be a minimalist when it comes to fitness. We all want results, and sometimes we don’t realize that doing the minimal or least amount we need to do can get us those results. Our bodies and minds, when we listen, will tell us whether or not the minimalistic approach is working.
Make it a great month with Joyinmovement in all that you do!
p.s. It’s been an exciting month for me. I launched Navigating Hormone Health as a Kindle book and also posted my 100th travel article over at www.joyinmovement.com/travel. I so appreciate the support from you all who read, write to me, purchase my products and services, and continue to keep the JOY in Joyinmovement!