The Minimalist’s Bodyweight Strength Workout

The Minimalist's Bodyweight Strength Workout

There’s a common misconception among people looking to get stronger and fitter that you need to lift heavy weights to build strength.

I’ve been a personal trainer for over ten years, and I can tell you that this just isn’t true. Although weights can be one way to get stronger, you don’t need to be constantly adding plates to the barbell to build strength and power.

If you want a high-level example of this, just look at gymnasts. Gymnasts have some of the highest strength-to-weight ratios of any athletes, and they rely mostly on their own bodyweight to build their Herculean levels of strength.

In my own training, I rarely use weights. When I do, I never lift heavy. For years, my workouts have consisted of variations of pull-ups, push-ups, single-leg squats, sprints, and plyometrics — and I’m pretty strong, especially as someone who never identified as an athlete growing up. My clients’ workouts are similar. The main reason I’ll add weights to their workouts is for variety, not because they need weights to build strength and fitness.

Bodyweight exercises have several notable benefits:

  • They’re functional, better mimicking real-life movements than machine exercises
  • They help prevent injuries and are easier on your body over a lifetime of workouts
  • They’re portable — you can do bodyweight exercises whether you’re in a hotel room, nearby park, or your tiny apartment

For those of us who like to keep life simple, bodyweight workouts also act as the perfect minimalist workout. 

There’s so much you can do using your own bodyweight, and if you have access to a pull-up bar and a couple of resistance bands, you have enough to challenge yourself for a lifetime of workouts.

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Making your fitness routine excuse-proof and a do-anywhere bodyweight workout

Hey there,

How do you excuse-proof your fitness routine?

I recently had the pleasure of being interviewed for an article for Oxygen Magazine on how to make your workouts a priority and create healthy habits for life.

In it, I address:

  • Why having a deeper “why” than just appearance or weight loss is so important
  • How to plan your workouts to better fit your energy levels and work schedule
  • How to get creative with bodyweight and HIIT workouts

You can read the full article on here.

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5 Life Lessons I Learned From Getting Punched in the Face

I started boxing four years ago, right before my 31st birthday. It was a long time coming.

I’ve wanted to box ever since I was a kid. There’s something that fascinates me about the sport: I love the training, the journey, the sweat, and the inevitable tears. I love the griminess of boxing gyms. Maybe more than anything, I love that it brings together misfits of all ages.

And let’s be honest, it feels really good to hit something hard.

When I first stepped into my local boxing gym, my coach told me something I’d never forget: that this sport would change me. “It will wear you down,” he assured me, “and it’s up to you to build yourself back up. No one can do that for you.”

Maybe this is why so many people sign up for boxing classes but don’t stick around for more than a few months at most. In order to grow, you first have to be open to change. Most people would rather stick to the safety of their comfort zone than step into the unknown.

I, on the other hand, was ready for change. I wanted the entire forced transformation that boxing offered. I had reached a place of stagnation in my life and was desperate for a way out. So I learned the basics, awkwardly at first. If you think learning to box is easy, you’re in for a rude awakening. There’s much more to it than just hitting something (or someone) hard.

For the first few years, I wasn’t very good. I was clumsy and regularly tripped over my own feet. I got punched in the face a lot. I began sparring a few times a week, and although I kept coming back, I wanted to quit after nearly every session. More often than not, I would walk out of the gym with tears streaming down my face. But I kept showing up. I signed up for my first amateur boxing match and (barely) lost. I kept going. Covid put a wrench in my plans, but I kept training nonetheless.

I’ve learned many lessons so far on my boxing journey. All of them apply not just to boxing but all of life. Here are a few that stand out.

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There’s Finally a Shift in the Conversation Around Exercise

Mental Health and Exercise

It’s 9:03 am, Monday, January 3rd. I arrive at the iconic Gold’s Gym in Venice, California, where I’ve worked out nearly every day for the last five years. This is part of my usual routine; get up by six, walk my dog to a coffee shop where I write for an hour and a half, scarf some oatmeal, then work out. These days, my workouts are my treat, my break from the otherwise hectic nature of my day. It didn’t use to be this way. More on that later.

I walk through the various rooms and see that all the regulars are there. We smile at each other through our masks as I walk by. I give a few of them hugs, and we wish each other a good workout.

As usual for this time of year, there are a lot of new faces I’ve never seen before in the gym. I scan the various rooms, wondering who I will see again and who will only make it in a few times before life gets in the way, and they decide that 2022 is not their year to prioritize their fitness after all.

Yet this year, something feels different. Yes, there are still the usual types slogging away on the treadmill, watching the minutes tick away as they hope to burn off the remnants of as many holiday cookies as possible in one go. But aside from the typical weight loss and muscle building goals, many of the newbies I’ve talked to have resolved to exercise not just for physical health or appearance reasons, but because they feel better mentally and emotionally when they exercise.

In the past, this awareness that exercise leads to a better mood and improved headspace is something I’d only hear from people who had long embraced the identity of an athlete. Runners, for example, have long proclaimed that their runs are their primary source of sanity. In What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, celebrated Japanese writer Haruki Murakami writes that he runs to acquire a void. That void is peace; it’s flow; it’s a break from the otherwise endless chatter of the monkey mind. And it’s something that most runners and athletes come to crave.

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Want to Build True Strength? Ditch the Weights

“But don’t I need weights to get strong?” In my work as a fitness and performance coach, I get this question a lot. Even though I’ve been designing mostly bodyweight-based workouts for myself and my clients for over a decade, most people can’t seem to believe me at first when I tell them that you don’t need heavy weights …

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Try This Athlete-Approved Method for Overcoming Life’s Obstacles

Athlete-approved Method for Overcoming Life's Obstacles

How often have you started working toward a new goal, full of determination and drive, only to give up when you encounter an obstacle or challenging circumstance?

This happened to me over and over when I was first starting my personal fitness journey. I’d commit to working out three times a week and vow to swap out junk food for healthier options. As long as everything went exactly as expected, I’d be fairly successful sticking to my plan.

But, of course, life never goes as planned. Inevitably, something would happen to throw me off course. Sooner or later, I’d give up on my goal altogether, lose my progress, then have to start all over again at a later date.

The more I went through this demoralizing cycle, the more I became convinced that I could never become fit or healthy. But it’s not that I was doing anything wrong or that I wasn’t capable of change in the first place: I just didn’t have any alternative arrangements to fall back on when I encountered challenging circumstances.

Whenever we are striving for a goal, whether fitness or health-related or otherwise, we will inevitably encounter obstacles.

Rather than being surprised by the hurdles life throws at us, we can learn to plan for them.

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Why Goal Setting is Important and How to Do it Well

What separates those who accomplish a lot in life from those who idol away their time? Largely your ability to set and achieve goals.

Goals give our lives direction, something to organize our thoughts and action around. Well-thought-out goals can direct our time and attention, help motivate us toward action, and even help give our lives meaning and purpose.

Goals can significantly increase our performance and productivity, too: in dozens of studies by goal-setting experts Gary Latham and Edwin Locke, setting challenging goals has been shown to increase performance and productivity by up to twenty-five percent.

If you find yourself hesitant to set goals, it may be because you’re worried about failure and thinking ahead to all the things that could possibly go wrong en route to your goal. People who don’t set goals are often “saving themselves” from failure and defeat.

If this is you at times, remind yourself that in order to invest in a goal fully, you first have to believe that your goal is possible. This is why having a growth mindset — or believing that your efforts will make a difference — is so important to achieving high, hard goals.

It may also be helpful to remind yourself that the pursuit of goals is not all about the outcome. Learn to enjoy the process and all the learning and growth that happens along the way.

But while studies by the U.S. News & World Report show as many as 80% of people give up on their New Year’s resolutions by February, this doesn’t have to be you. Goal setting isn’t just about making a checklist once a year. It’s actually a skill that you can get better at with time and practice.

Below is a four-step process to setting goals you’ll stick to this year:

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Self-Efficacy and Why Believing in Yourself Matters

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.” — Henry Ford I started training handstands in 2014. My dream was to be able to hold a five-second freestanding handstand without a wall. I got lucky and somehow stumbled upon the world of circus, and before long began training a few times …

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How Exercise Helps You Learn Faster and Think Better

I don’t know about you, but the idea that I might grow old and realize I’ve squandered my life haunts me in the middle of the night. It’s the reason I get up at 6 a.m. every day to write; the reason I keep working toward my fitness goals day after day; the reason I’m …

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