18 Minute Minimalist Exercises

joshua-millburnI used to be horribly out of shape

A couple years ago, I couldn’t do a single push-up, I certainly couldn’t do a pull-up, I didn’t exercise at all. Or, when I did exercise, it was sporadic, it never lasted more than a few days before I gave up. Sound familiar?

Even after losing 70 pounds–which was due mostly to my diet–I was in terrible shape. At age 28, I was doughy, I was flabby, I was weak. But not anymore.

At age 30, I’m in the best shape of my life. That’s a weird thing to say, I know–but it’s the truth. I’m in good shape because, I’ve found ways to make exercise a daily reward instead of a dreaded, tedious task.

3 reasons exercise is enjoyable now

I only do exercises I enjoy. I don’t enjoy running, so I don’t do it. I tried it for about six months and discovered it wasn’t for me. If you see me running, call the police, because someone is chasing me. Instead, I find other ways to do cardio: I walk, I get on the elliptical machine at the gym, I do bodyweight exercises that incorporate cardio.

Exercise relieves stress. I love hitting the gym (or the park) in the evenings if I feel tense or stressed (although I haven’t been too stressed since I started living with no goals). Exercising at the end of a long, stressful day always gives me time in solitude to reflect on what’s important.

Variety keeps exercise fresh. When I first started exercising, I used to hit the gym three times per week, which was certainly better than not exercising at all. Then, as I got more serious, I started going to the gym daily–about six times per week (even when I was working 70 hours a week). This routine became incredibly time consuming, and doing the same thing over and over eventually caused me to plateau. These days I mix it up: I walk quite a bit every day, and I still hit the gym two or three times a week, but the thing that has made the biggest, most noticeable difference has been the variety of my daily 18-minute bodyweight exercises.

My 18 Minute Exercises

Honestly, 18 minutes sounds like an arbitrary number–that’s because it is. When I started these bodyweight exercises, I didn’t have a specific window of time in mind. But I timed myself last week (solely for the purposes of this essay) and discovered that almost every time I hit the park for my exercises, I was worn out within 18 minutes. Thus, these are my 18-minute exercises (all of which you can do in your living room, outdoors, or just about anywhere else–even outside during a thunderstorm).

During my 18 minutes, I usually alternate between the following exercises (video tutorial links included). You can of course pepper in your own favorite exercises as well. And, yes, these exercises are suitable for men and women.

Push-ups. Like I said, two years ago I couldn’t do a push-up. Eventually I could do one push-up (after doing some modified pushups for a while). After a while, I could do 10, then 20. Now I can do 100 or so. I tend to do about 5 or 6 sets, resulting in about 400 push-ups within my 18 minutes (Muscles worked wiki.)

Pull-ups. Two years ago I thought I’d never be able to do a pull-up. I learned how to eventually do one pull-up with this technique. Soon I could do 2 pull-ups, then 4. I can do about 30 in a row now. I do about 5 or 6 sets, resulting in about 100 pull-ups within my 18 minutes. I use monkey bars at the park. You can use a pull-up bar at home. Leo uses tree branches. I used to hate pull-ups, but it’s my favorite exercise now. (Muscles worked wiki.)

Squats. I just started doing bodyweight squats, and I’ve already noticed a huge difference. I’m only doing 3 or 4 sets of 20 right now, but I’ll continue to work my way up, I’ll continue to grow. (Muscles worked wiki.)

Shoulder press. I use two 20-pound dumbbells for shoulder presses. You can use smaller or larger weights, or any random object with a little weight (e.g., a large bag of rice, a couple gallons of water, etc.). I tent to do 3 or 4 sets, resulting in about 50 shoulder presses. (Muscles worked wiki.)

I don’t have a specific routine or plan, I just take a 30-second break between sets, bouncing from one exercise to the next. After about 18 minutes, I’m completely spent. And I feel great afterwards. I get that incredible, tired feeling you get after a great workout. What used to be tedious is now exhilarating.

You can work your way up, even if you can’t do a single pull-up or push-up. Everyone has an 18 minutes per day to focus on his or health, right?

For additional resources and inspiration, my friend Vic Magary has some great material on his website.

Courtesy of The Minimalists.

You may also like:

Take A Load Off Or Should You

Push Beyond Your Ordinary Pushup

Lose Your Fear of Weight Lifting

A Day in the Life of a Minimalist

Get Your Best Workout at Home

© Copyright 2011  Allison Stuart Kaplan  www.Askinyourface.com LLC

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