The Art of Minimalist Training

Let me start off by answering the first question I know all of you will have – what is minimalist training? Minimalist training put simply is the fancy way of saying train smart not hard. You get in, get your workout done and you get out. The key to MT is to up your intensity as you decrease volume, which allows you to put all of your focus and energy into getting everything you can from each rep.

This approach is very back to basics. It can be summed up by one very famous mantra that has stood the test of time – “Keep it simple, stupid”. It’s all very well telling you how great MT is and throwing catchy sayings at you but what actual benefits does MT provide? And what gives it the edge over conventional, body-part split routines that are bandied around in bodybuilding magazines? I’m glad you asked, read on and you shall be enlightened;

You make actual progression

Believe it or not, doing the same weight every week in order to achieve that ‘sick pump’ doesn’t work. No matter how much the mainstream fitness industry will sell it to you. Have you ever stopped to think, if the magazines gave you a program that worked and got long term results, then you wouldn’t need to buy any more of their publications? Makes you think doesn’t it… Anyway, using limited exercises that you can focus on progressing in allows you to build a solid strength base and trigger solid, long term, easily maintainable muscle mass.

Lower risk of injury

As MT doesn’t bombard your body with 90 minute workouts taking all sets to failure and focuses more on well rested, well executed sets with full intensity, you basically nullify any risk of injury. As the stress of working out is only around 40 minutes maximum per session and only 3 days per week as opposed to 5, you are only working out for 120 minutes over the course of that week instead of 450 minutes. This is great for your central nervous system as it is not in a constant battle against stimulation and you will notice the energy this will give you.

Allows you to stop being a slave to the gym

The last, and probably most important benefit of MT is the fact that it allows you to stop being a slave to the gym. The usual sarcoplasmic hypertrophy that comes with training constantly in high rep ranges means that after a week or two off the gym you will start to lose your gains. If you build strength and muscle in lower rep ranges you will keep your muscle for much longer and won’t have to be in the gym 24/7 to maintain your mass. This creates a healthier relationship between you and the weight room and allows it to genuinely enhance your life and not hinder it.

So, what exactly would a Minimalist training regime look like? You will have two workouts, split into workout A & B. This form of alternating workout pattern allows for stimulation of the muscle on a more frequent basis than the typical bodybuilding workout split whereby you hit every muscle once per week. The conventional approach actually hinders progress as your muscles are ready to be hit again 48 hours after they were first stimulated. Leaving it an entire week before you hit the same muscle group again is simply short changing yourself.

Anyway, here is the program;

Workout A – Pull & Legs Workout B – Push & Abs
Exercise Sets x Reps Exercise Sets x Reps
Deadlift 1 x 5 Bench Press 3 x 5
Chin ups 3 x 5 Parallel Bar dips 3 x 5
Dumbbell curls 3 x 10 Skull crushers 3 x 10
Face pulls 3 x 12 Lateral raises 3 x 12
Pistol squats 3 x 5 (each leg) Hanging leg raises 3 x 15


As you can see, this is a very back to basics program that makes use of lots of heavy compound movements which are great not only for muscle building but for increasing testosterone and reducing risk of injury – just remember to practice perfect form and take adequate rest between sets and you’ll see some great progress. It can also be beneficial to take a lighter deload week when you begin to feel the weights tiring you out more than usual. This can help to bring your CNS back to full function after weeks of being bombarded with weight training stimulus.

If you don’t believe me about how great MT can be, just check out the guys that have been on this protocol for years. They have had great success building muscle whilst keeping testosterone extremely high and leading fulfilling lives.

So, there you have it, all the benefits associated with minimalist training and some living, breathing examples of those who have had great success using it. Why not shake up your current wheel-spinning routine and give it a go? Just remember – keep it simple, stupid.

This post has been written by Sam, from The Man Blueprint. Check out his blog for more great health & fitness content!

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My Take On Life is a UK Men's Lifestyle Blog. You can expect to see content posted about a range of topics such as Lifestyle, Health & Fitness, Food, Travel, Music & Much more!

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