The minimalist’s strength workout

Like most athletes who would rather be outdoors running, riding, swimming, or hiking, I don’t set aside much time for the gym. Yet I fully realize the importance of building general strength and mobility—not just to support my outdoor activities, but also for everyday health and fitness. I’d like to be able to unload groceries, haul suitcases up and down stairs, and bend over to put on my shoes well into my eighties. That means I have to go to the gym a few days a week. But when I’m there, I try to focus solely on the essentials. (If you’re willing to buy a kettlebell, some dumbbells, and a pull-up bar, you don’t even need to leave your home.)

Thinking I might be on to something good—but far from sure—I recently worked up the courage to put my 35-to-40-minute routine to the ultimate test: Twitter.

The response was overwhelmingly positive, and a handful of experts liked or retweeted the post. I wanted to learn more about why they agreed, so I reached out to some of the best in the business for details.

  • “What you have designed is an effective ‘minimalist’ workout that travels well, easily adapted to many different environments with minimum equipment necessary,” says Vern Gambetta, a veteran strength coach who works with numerous world champion athletes and professional sports teams.
  • “Simple beats optimal,” according to Brett Bartholomew, a strength and conditioning coach for NFL football players and the author of Conscious Coaching. “Habits work. Consistency works. The simpler something is, the more indelible it becomes.”
  • “This workout hits four major basic movements: push, pull, squat, and hinge,” comments Michael Lord, a sports chiropractor who treats and trains elite athletes in Northern California. “It also uses full ranges of motions, so it’s accomplishing mobility work within a strength routine.”

Read more for a closer look at the routine and some additional insight from the pros, at Outside Online.