Top 3 Minimalist Exercise Routines for Every Fitness Level

[toc]Many begin the New Year with guns blazing, confident in their ability to smash their fitness goals. When March begins to get near, you see a dramatic drop off in gym and fitness class attendance. Why does this happen? While the reasons may differ, they are all linked by the frustration that fitness enthusiasts feel.

Think about it: The gym gets so crowded that a 30-minute workout ends up taking an hour. When someone finally does get to use the equipment, he or she may not be educated on how to properly execute the movement. With eyes upon this person, he or she rushes through the exercise then leaves the gym feeling as if not much was accomplished.

If this sounds like you, then the problem is not motivation as it is a desire to avoid disappointment, anxiety, and frustration.

The solution is to keep it simple. How to lose weight weight with minimal exercise alone may not be the fastest process (like it would be with spin classes) but doing something is better than nothing.

Let’s take a look at the top 3 fitness routines that require the least amount of equipment. Best of all, each routine can be completed from the comfort of your home. You don’t need to invest in expensive machines, as these all require only simple and minimal equipment. The dollar investment to get going on any one of these can be quite cheap compared to a gym membership, that you probably won’t even have time to use that often.

1. Compound Calisthenics

Learning Curve: Very Easy

Don’t let the fancy name fool you, there’s nothing complicated about bodyweight exercises performed in a rapid succession format. This is an excellent choice for those individuals who are new to fitness but also lack the confidence and patience to step into the weight room. Compound movements are the big boys of the fitness industry. They incorporate the most muscle groups, burn the most calories, and build the most lean tissue. Once you master these classic movements, you’ll be set to advance.

The Workout

Perform each exercise for the prescribed repetitions then immediately move on to the next one with no break. Once you complete each exercise once, rest for 120 seconds before starting again.

  • Bodyweight Squats: 25
  • Push-Ups: 15
  • Reverse Lunges: 25
  • Pull-Ups: 15
  • Burpees: 10
  • Mountain Climbers: 20
  • Plank: 30 seconds

Some parts may feel intense at first, if you’re starting to exercise for the first time in a while. But assuming you’re healthy, after a few weeks it will get a lot easier.

2. Dumbbells

Learning Curve: Easy to Moderate

dumbbell workout

If you’re going to make an investment in your fitness future, I’d argue that dumbbells are the ultimate tool to help you lose fat and build muscle. Offering an elite level of versatility, dumbbells can be used to add the ideal resistance to hundreds of exercises. Best of all, they are a cost effective tool that will last a lifetime. If you don’t have a gym membership, I’d recommend also investing in an adjustable weight bench with a wide base. This one piece of equipment will increase your exercise library ten-fold.

The Workout

The following full body workout is based on using dumbbells and a weight bench. The idea is to maximize caloric expenditure as well as muscular hypertrophy. It’s also arranged in a traditional sets x repetitions format. Perform each set and allow no more than 60 seconds of resting time.

  • Flat Bench Dumbbell Press: 3 sets of 10 to 12 repetitions
  • Dumbbell Squat: 3 x 12-15
  • Reverse Dumbbell Fly (Using an Incline Bench): 3 x 8-12
  • Dumbbell Front Lunge: 3 x 12-15
  • Overhead Dumbbell Press: 2 x 12-15
  • Dumbbell Hammer Curls: 2 x 10-15
  • Dumbbell Kickbacks: 2 x 10-15
  • Weighted Crunch: 3 x 20

Those looking to bulk up their muscle in the process may want to consider a post-workout scoop of pea, rice, hemp, or whey protein powder.

3. Kettlebells

Learning Curve: Moderate to Advanced

kettlebell workout
Kettlebells exploded on to the fitness scene in the early 2000s. Very popular with bodybuilders in Russia, this farm-looking fitness tool has proven itself to be the next big thing. Although it may appear intimidating and less of a bare-bones minimal exercise, the kettlebell is just as simple to use as a dumbbell. In fact, many argue (and I would agree) that the weight dispersion of a kettlebell is superior to that of a dumbbell. The design of the handle allows for basic exercise movements but also advanced swing motions.

Note: If you feel nervous about getting started with a kettlebell, my suggestion would be to start out using very little weight while you master the movements. Make the investment in a video covering basic kettlebell exercises so that you can feel comfortable while avoiding unnecessary strain.

The Workout

This full body kettlebell workout focuses on the largest muscle groups while incorporating classic powerlifting motions. These swing-based movements will do wonders with increasing your raw power and balance while establishing better communication and action between all muscle groups.

  • Sumo Squat: 3 x 15
  • Kettlebell Deadlift: 3 x 12-15
  • Kettlebell Side Lunge: 3 x 15
  • Kettlebell Push-up to Back Row (Renegade Row): 3 x 10-12
  • Kettlebell Side-to-Side Twist: 3 x 20
  • Kettlebell Clean and Press: 3 x 10-12
  • Kettlebell Curls: 3 x 15
  • Kettlebell Kickback: 3 x 12-15
  • Kettlebell Swing: 3 x 12-15

Those with heart conditions and other diseases should consult their physician before beginning any of these exercise regimens.