I buy most of my shirts from Woot.com, and most recently acquired this one:
It brings me a joy that defies all description.
And come to think, Christine wasn’t going to let me have it! Indeed, she tries to foil numerous of my crusades to acquire new and exciting treasures for the house. Recently amongst them, my plaster Roman pillar from the craft store (“But you don’t understand, I need this!”), my red dragon pillow-pet, stout as a loaf of bread and with his customary and impenetrable red scales all over him (also from the craft store), my bacon wallet made of duct tape, and a small but stately army of stuffed critters, in order of rank: a beaver, a moose, and an ewok.
She says our place is plenty cluttered enough, especially for someone advertising himself as a minimalist. I informed her of her ignorance, and said she doesn’t get it: I am a fitness minimalist, that is all I claim to be, and the the purpose of life, my little rabbit, I said—the sole and singular reason for our existence—naturally, is to acquire in excess an abundance of things we don’t need, says the Bible.
It’s very easy to acquire things. In fact, I even acquired a St. Bernard while still in college, and regularly I explained to my landlord, no Sir, like I’ve told you before, that’s not a St. Bernard, that’s my sister, Bridget. And not too soon after did I acquire another St. Bernard, Chewie, and somebody once told me I’m the only person he ever knew that just up and buys St. Bernards wantonly, and I told him he should be happy to know me, and he was.
Like I said, it’s very easy to acquire things, but very difficult to get rid of them. My life, it seems, is a landing strip in a rainstorm, permitting arrival, but preventing departure. Things come in, but they never go back out, unless Christine trashes them behind my back, that snake. I once caught her throwing away something of mine very treasured—my plastic turkey, which routinely guards the bookshelf. I opened the trash lid, to throw away some paper towels, and there he was, waddle side up, staring me straight in the face—son of a bitch. I took him out at once and delivered to Christine a reprimanding, and oh, I was SO mad—Don’t you EVER touch him, EVER(!), I said, because you’ll NEVER understand, and then I threw my shoe at the window and broke a chair with my foot.
Exercise programs work much the same way, they so easily collect clutter; sort of like a check valve—they let things in, but not back out; and so we do things we don’t need to do, shouldn’t be doing.
Now I often say any exercise program will improve in direct ratio to the number of things you can keep out of it that shouldn’t be there, and I mean it, because the secret to a good exercise program, my friends, is simplicity—to strip it down to its fewest, most fundamental components, and then leave it at that.
I am a minimalist, at least, a fitness minimalist, and I think an exercise program should contain no unnecessary workouts, a workout no unnecessary exercises. So this begs the question, just how little exercise can you get away with, and still be successful? Really and truly, I don’t know, but it’s significantly less than what most folks are doing, I’m sure of that.
I just had a baby, and what’s cool, is he was actually really easy to make, and she—Christine (my girlfriend)—showed me all about how to do it, and after some vicious threats, I became willing, but all I could think was oh goodness this is so terribly, terribly wrong, but by His graces I went to confession and had all sins absolved. Now I go to confession four to five times a week, once I even went nineteen times, after some oysters, and broke the highest score on record, for a Tuesday.
His name is Roan, and when he’s all swaddled up he looks like a little ear of corn, so I call him The Corncobbler and pretend his special power is getting stuck in people’s teeth. Now what he’s taught me is how little the human organism needs to survive, but if only a handsome pair of boobies. So to thrive, I think, how can it require all that much more? My answer, of course, would be not much.
He’s also taught me that anything good is spoiled in excess. One progeny is contentment enough. But ten progeny, all at once, and I imagine my life would be but the sum of ten teensy weensy crapholes, and far less decent than it is now.
So here is my philosophy on fitness and life: Do the least amount you need to do to get the job done, and not a smidgen more. Instead of a million different exercises, how about just two or three useful ones?
Simplify: The Secret to a Good Exercise Program
Minimalism, applied directly to fitness, it might look something like this:
Frequent, low rep, high-quality strength work + Less frequent, high-intensity metabolic conditioning + As much joint mobility and low-intensity cardiovascular activity as possible.
Strength train 5 days a week, frequently, low-rep, constant load. Here’s what I mean: pick a couple of lifts—actually, use my friend Dan John’s fundamental human movement blueprint: push, pull, hinge, squat, loaded carry.
Military Press (push)
Pull Up (pull)
Goblet Squat (squat)
Get Up (loaded carry).
Work each lift, each day, and in the manner of 1,2,3,1,2,3 (ladder format). Because the frequency is high, the volume is low, and so is the density, too. The intensity, in my book, should not be waved—meaning, start your cycle with a “heavy” load, say, your 5 rep max, work that for three months, in the manner just mentioned, or until it starts to feel “light.” Then, reassess, bump the weight up to what is hopefully your new 5 rep max, and repeat the operation.
In effect, the load has been waved by not waving it at all—no calculating percentages, none of that hooey. You just get strong instead, which, to me, is far more appealing than having to deal with the inconvenience of math. This is strength training in the extremest simplicity.
Two to three days a week, perhaps a bit less or a bit more, depending upon your sport, recovery, and other such etceteras, add in some high-intensity metabolic work. I like sprints and kettlebell complexes, because they are simple, and metabolics should be simple.
This is where, if I might veer slightly off course, Crossfit is caked in error, many layers thick. They like to insert complicated lifts into what should otherwise be a very simple endeavor. Instead of using something sensible for metabolics, they use Olympic lifting, and with no show of reason for it. This is a mistake. Olympic lifting does not hold up well under fatigue—it’s too technical. It should be used for power, for low reps, and not for breaking a sweat.
This is why there is Crossfit and then there is common sense—you can’t have one without losing something of the other. Now I know a good number of people are going to be hurt by that, but let me just say, that really and truly, and from the very bottom of my heart, I don’t care.
It needn’t be complicated. It shouldn’t be complicated! Don’t make into an hour what can be done in thirty minutes. And certainly don’t take thirty minutes, if you can get away with fifteen.
Simplicity, Simplicity, Simplicity! Every time I enter the gym I hear these words, ringing in my head, as if shouted by Thoreau himself, and with all the alarm of a fire bell.
And don’t forget about brisk walking. I take two every day, and this is where I’ve yet to find any upper threshold. The more the better, a curious effect, and one that seems nearly exclusive to brisk walking.
I usually walk my two St. Bernards, Dingus 1 and Dingus 2, respectively, on down to Kimberton Whole Foods, to buy the makings for some juice, and if Christine comes along, then we have rounded out the Dinguses and are roughly a parade. People slow down as they drive by, just to get a good look; because walking a St. Bernard is not like walking any other kind dog. It’s like riding a sputtering moped, and you make a spectacle of yourself every time. They jar you forward at every sniffable occasion, and with no caution of the surroundings. One time, Lola nearly tossed me off a precipice, and was so happy about it, that I nearly tossed her off the precipice.
But all this juicing of carrots and beets, I just don’t know, the contents of my toilet bowl are starting look like a Pink Floyd concert.
I have some resources to help you out. And yes, I’m about to recommend some products and services, so you can skip this section if you’d like, but I’m not going to do any high-pressure sales-pitching or anything like that. I’m just going to say hey, I think I have a few things that can really help you out, and if you’d like to know a little bit more about them, cool, if not, no big deal.
The first is my Inner Circle. This is a monthly newsletter devoted to fitness minimalism. I provide exercise programs, nutrition protocols, and all other things of the sort that I think my readers will find helpful. The Inner Circle is very personal, very “me to you”, and so it contains a good deal of zaniness. As well, the Inner Circle allows you to work closely with me on your health and fitness goals, through private email correspondence. CLICK HERE to learn more.
The second is The 9-Minute Workout. This is the best workout I’ve ever made, especially for those in a time-crunch. It requires only one kettlebell, and is fairly heinous. You can get it HERE.
Thirdly, is private online coaching. But this is only for those who are very serious about working very closely with me on achieving their goals. This requires a minimum three month commitment, and is fairly expensive, so to be fair, it’s not for everyone.
The easiest way to describe it is like this: My Inner Circle is like a good bath robe—it feels good, and will fit just about anyone. The programs, nutrition protocols, and advice contained within are designed to work very well, broadly—and they do, if you commit yourself to them.
Private online coaching is like custom, tight-fitting pants. The programs and nutrition protocols are tailored just for you, and will fit ONLY you. This is for those who want custom, tight-fitting pants. If that sounds like you, then CLICK HERE to learn more.
Venturing a Strength Workout Idea
I want to leave you with an action item. This in response to a common question, most recently asked by my reader Mike, inquiring as to “what are the best strength-building kettlebell exercises”.
Well, here’s is what I think…
Less is More T-Shirts Now Available For Sale in Limited Quantity!
Nothing windy here, just want to let you know we finally got more t-shirts in, and that if you want one, well, come and get it!
These sold out EXTREMELY FAST last time we put them up, so, if interested, please get your order in immediately.
FAST ACTION BONUS: Order your t-shirt, take a picture in it, email that picture to PatFlynn@ChroniclesOfStrength.com, and I will give you any one of our eBooks, for free. That includes The Birth of a Hero, The 9-Minute Workout, or any one of the Inner Circle newsletters.
But the deadline to order your shirt and be eligible for the bonus this is Thursday, Oct 17th.