Become a Fitness Minimalist

The vast majority of people we've worked with believe that getting exceptional fitness and physique results requires endless hours of a strict exercise and nutrition program.

Well...

We want you to know that it's just not true.

In fact, many of our members at AMP Fitness have achieved exceptional results with a minimalist approach.  Sometimes better.

In this post you'll learn:

  • Why less is more.
  • How to nail your fitness goals in less time.
  • Sometimes a little goes a long way.

90 minutes.

That's how much time some of our members spend in the gym (well, we call it a Super Human Training Studio) each week.

Sometimes less.

Coincidentally, that is the recommended minimum of moderate to vigorous exercise per week from the US Department of Health.

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That's it.

The reality is that most of our members work epic hours at their job, have families, social obligations, and activities such as planning a wedding or taking care of a family member.

They are certainly not lazy.  Not even close.

In fact, most of them wish they could come work out more.

The problem is that the one thing you can't work harder for is time.  You just have to prioritize and plan how you spend what you DO have.

Most people, myself included, could technically squeeze out a couple extra hours for fitness a week.  But you would have to sacrifice other areas of your life.  I don't know about you, but I enjoy other things too much... like spending time with my beautiful wife or making time to hang out with friends.

Does that mean you don't get to be lean?  Fit?  Happy?  

No, not at all.

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In fact, they get to enjoy all the #Gainz.  

I even recommended this to one of our newer members, Leah, who was crazy busy at work and forcing herself to workout 5 days a week on a treadmill for an hour each time.  She wanted to use weights but just didn't know how.  She knew she could get more done in less time but someone to teach her.

After chatting about putting her program together, I capped her at 4 workouts per week.  One was an hour long and the others... only 10 minutes each.  Only 90 minutes per week!

This is what his plan looked like:

  • (1) full body strength workout - 60min
  • (1) bodyweight mini-circuit at home – 10 minutes
  • (2) sprint workouts at work gym – 10 minutes each

The results?

Well, since she started 8 weeks ago, she lost a 10 pounds of body fat, dropping from 150 pounds to 140 pounds. That’s almost a pound for each hour spent in the gym.  Before that?  She was training harder and nothing was changing.

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Does that seem a bit far fetched?  Keep reading to find out how she got fit AF!


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Leah’s Minimal AF Training Program

We could have had her training much more than one and a half hours per week.  And she would have.

She would have forced herself through grueling training sessions if we told her that's what it took.  She would have given up a few extra hours of sleep for early morning workouts or hanging out with friends after work in to crush it in the gym.  She was ready to sacrifice any of her free time.

But she was already doing that with no change.  And it certainly didn't make her any happier.

I mean, we make training at AMP fun but we know that most people don't love to train 8 days a week.  It's just unsustainable.  Especially if you already lead a demanding life.

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When we write any of our new member's programs, we always start with a few questions:

  1. What else is going on in their life?
  2. What is their training experience?
  3. What are their goals?
  4. What do they need to work on?
  5. How much do they love to train?

With those in mind, we started noticing a trend.  Most people have a LOT going on in their lives.  They have little experience and want to learn how to train safe in order to look, move and feel their best.  And more importantly, most people DO NOT love to work out.

Leah was no different.  So the goal with her programming was to get as much in to help her develop strength and move better as possible without spending a ton of time in the gym each week.

She was able to learn her whole program during her first session and started making progress right off the bat. And the days she trained on her own were easy peasy and never lasted more than 10 minutes.  She nailed it!

So what did the program look like?  Here’s exactly what she started with:

Day 1 – Full Body Strength at AMP (50 minutes)

Warm Up

  1. Glute Bridges x 8
  2. Leg Lowers on Wall x 8/side
  3. Side-Lying T-Twist x 6/side
  4. Birddogs x 5/side
  5. Inchworms x 6

Strength

A1) Kettlebell Deadlift x 6

A2) 1-Arm Dumbbell Bench Press x 8/side

B1) Split Squats x 8/side

B2) TRX Row x 10

C1) Hip Thrust x 10

C2) Side Plank - Feet Staggered x 30sec/side

C3) Half-Kneeling Band Pull Aparts x 12

Repeat each superset 2 to 3 times, resting only as needed.

Day 2 – Cardio at Work Gym (10 minutes)

2min jog/walk
15sec incline sprint on treadmill
15sec rest (standing or walking)
Repeat 8 times
3min foam rolling

Day 3 – Home Workout (10 minutes)

A1) Push Ups on Incline x 10 reps
A2) Hollow Body Hold x 10sec - 20sec
A3) Yogaplex x 4/side

Repeat 3-5 times, rest 1:00 between rounds.

Day 4 – Cardio at Work Gym (10 minutes)

2min jog/walk
15sec incline sprint on treadmill
15sec rest (standing or walking)
Repeat 8 times
3min foam rolling

Getting More Out Of Less

It's important to note a few things that I told Leah as she was getting started.  Understanding these things are absolutely essential for getting optimal results.

I mean, that's what you're after, right?

#1 Hit Some PRs!

First, WTF is a PR?

It's shorthand for personal record which just means you did something more or better than the last time.  In each consecutive workout you want to aim for getting at least 1% better or doing one thing to make the workout harder.

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For the strength stuff you can try adding repetitions or increasing the weight or even just reducing the rest between exercises and rounds.  When you're doing conditioning you can increase the incline or increase the number of sprints.  Keep it simple.

You can almost always do 'something' a little better than last time.  Start with small increments and over time it will start to feel like you've hit your limit.  That's when it might be time to switch things up.

#2 How Much?

We recommend aiming for doing something every other day (remember most of these are only 10min!) with a day off in between.  It doesn't have to be perfect but it will help you create the habit of consistency.

AAAANNNDD you can add in other activities whenever you like.  The possibilities are endless but it's important to note that these are in addition to your workouts.

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#3 Write It Down

You're going to want to keep track of your workouts.  More specifically, the weights that you're using and how many sets and reps you complete.  

That way you can determine how you want to nail some new PRs (see #1) each week.  This piece is important because most people tend to forget what they had for breakfast (like me) never mind what you did a week ago.

#4 Change It Up

Follow this (or any) program for a minimum of 4 weeks up to a maximum of 6 weeks.  That will allow you to make a little progress, get into a routine and start to feel some results.

Changing it up will give you the ability to start fresh with some new exercises so you can start hitting some new PRs once the ones from the last program start to slow down.  It will also help keep it fresh so you don't lose interest.

That’s pretty much it.  90 minutes a week = 6 hours a month.  

It's simple.

It's sustainable.

It's just challenging enough.

And it WILL get you #RESULTS!

Leah’s Journey

Let's get back to the Super Human of this story, Leah.  Understanding her journey getting started will help you appreciate what she struggled with.  That's because we've found it's what most people struggle with.

Starting With, Like, Zero Fitness Skillz

Up to this point, Leah had never touched a weight in her life.  Or done strength-based exercise.  So day 1 was pretty challenging since she was only able to do 2 rounds of everything and less than the prescribed repetitions.  It's a total blow to her ego but she stuck with it and was able to NAIL the training philosophy of getting 1% better each time.  PRs baby!

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By the end of her first 8 weeks of the program she was awarded with epic fitness gains and was nailing all the exercises in the program.  Huzzah!

We could tell how happy she was that she stuck with it even though it started out rough. ;-)

Upgrades!

After 4 weeks we made some slight modifications to the program to keep it 'just challenging enough' to create change.  That minimum effective dose is perfect to keep her making progress and beating new challenges.

But that's it.  Nothing else changed and she was still training and kicking butt for only 90 minutes each week.  We just were able to fit more in and make it slightly harder.  

Become A PR Ninja

Leah totally nailed the #1 rule from above and was vigilant about hitting her PRs.  Each week she increased the reps or weight ever so slightly which was crucial.

It was AMAZING what she accomplished in 8 weeks considering how reconditioned she was at the beginning.  It proved how little was needed to make solid progress and get great results.  

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Keep It Simple...and Easy

Einstein said it best, "Make things as simple as possible, but not any simpler.".  We'll go one further and say when starting a new exercise program make it easier, too.  Even easier than you think/know you can do.  It will feel easy but that's totally the point.  

We know people can do more when starting out at AMP but making it a bit easier helps them develop a few key habits...

1. Keep It Real

We've found that beginners tend to overestimate their capabilities and attempt to tackle something unsustainable.  Then quickly lose confidence in themselves and give up (read more about that here).

By starting off slower you'll build confidence that what you're doing is sustainable... and you won't be sacrificing other important things in your life like Taco Tuesday with the girls.

2. Stop Missing Workouts

You’ll finally be able to stay consistent with your fitness goals.  Once you realize a 10-20 minute workout is all you need it becomes harder to come up with excuses or say fuck it.  

After a while it will just become a habit.  And just like it's hard to break a bad habit it will be hard to break a good one!

3. #BetterEveryDay

Have I mentioned how important progression is yet?  Yes, it's THAT important!

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What most people tend to do is start off super-over-enthusiastic and quickly lose steam.  They become too sore for week 2 and then struggle to make progress each week thereafter.  It just makes sense to start slower and focus on getting a little better each week and keeping it simple, sustainable and consistent.  

Long-term results will come.  I promise!

In the end?  Leah nailed it.  And we hope you have learned a few things from her plan.  Of course nutrition was part of her success but that's a story for another day!

What Next?

Eat, move, and live… better.  Even if it's just 1% better.  Simple, right?

Yep, we know… the health and fitness world can sometimes be a confusing place. But it doesn’t have to be.

 
Let us help by teaching you all the things!  Just tell us a little about yourself and we'll reach out to help you learn how to nail your exercise, lifestyle and personal fitness goals!