How To Train Like A Minimalist (More Gains In Less Time)

My new ESSENTIALS Training Program:

What is the least amount of time you can spend in the gym and still make gains a lot of fitness content including most of my own content doesn’t really answer this question for the most part fitness creators use what i’d call a maximalist approach to training this means you train for as long as you need to to maximize progress in other words they have a one hour

Workout would get you 98 of the results and a two hour workout would get you a hundred percent of the results the maximus would say you should train for two hours but maximalism isn’t always the best in fact i would say that minimalism is probably better suited for more people even if it gets less attention that’s because most people see fitness and bodybuilding

As merely part of their lives not their whole lives there’s also a lot of people who just straight up don’t enjoy training at least not yet and for them a minimalist approach can provide an easier starting point my brother is one of these people he loves golf and outdoor activities but he doesn’t like lifting weights and he doesn’t like the gym recently he started

Having hip pain and noticed that his strength was lacking at work so i wrote him a very minimalistic program that only takes him 20 minutes once a this is the exact program he does one push exercise one pull exercise and one leg exercise once a week and it’s working great his strength has improved and his hip pain is completely gone but even if you are more of a

Maximalist like me and you’re okay with bodybuilding consuming a lot of your lifestyle there are going to be times when you’re going to want to focus on other things work school kids travel and so on and knowing how to train like a minimalist will be important knowledge for you to have so let’s get started with what the scientific literature has to say about the

Minimum training required to make progress in strength health and muscle mass for strength it’s actually pretty simple just one heavy set done one to three times per week will be enough to induce significant strength gains for most people to support this the 2017 meta-analysis analyzed nine studies and found that 81 percent of strength gains were made from simply

Doing one to four sets per exercise per week so if you wanted to increase your squat max as time efficiently as possible you could do something like this where you squat two days per week and on each day you just do one heavy working set for one to three reps if you have the time you can optionally add one to two back offsets with lighter weights which research

Has shown can boost strength a little bit further it really doesn’t take much to see measurable strength gains because the most important factor for gaining strength is exposure to heavy loads so for strength you can get away with doing very little total lifting as long as when you do lift it’s reasonably heavy ideally coming in the one to five rep zone this is

Actually what i’m doing myself at the moment for the power lifts as i’m focusing more on bodybuilding now i just squat and deadlift once per week at a high effort and with relatively high loads for health even less is required this 2022 systematic review which pulled data from 16 studies on mortality cardiovascular disease cancer and diabetes found that just 30

To 60 minutes of lifting per week was enough for quote maximum risk reduction in other words you can see maximum health benefits with just a half hour to an hour of lifting per week it really doesn’t take much however for muscle gain it is a bit more complicated that’s because unlike strength and health there there’s a much clearer positive relationship between

Training volume and muscle hypertrophy training volume of course is simply the amount of work you do and it’s typically estimated as the number of sets per week so let’s say you did one set for your quads per week that would be considered very low volume and wouldn’t cost you very much time at all on the other hand if you did 30 sets for your quads per week that


Would be very high volume and you’d be spending a lot of time in the gym now if you’ve been following me or anyone else in the science-based fitness community you’ve probably heard that around 10 sets per body part per week is a really good target for most people most coaches will recommend splitting those 10 sets up across at least two workouts per body part so

For example you could do five sets for your quads on tuesday and five sets for your quads on friday but regardless the blanket recommendation is 10 sets per muscle per week and more advanced trainees may seem marginal gains by going up to 20 sets for some body parts but does this imply that 10 sets per muscle per week is the bare minimum what if you did 9 sets per

Week instead of 10. or what if you did five sets but you get half the gains of 10 sets but if you only did one set per week would you make any gains at all well luckily we do have the signs to answer these questions and the results may surprise you this gray bar represents 100 of the gains possible if you did 10 plus sets per week this is your maximum possible

Gains doing just one to four sets per muscle per week just one to four sets will get you not ten percent of the gains not twenty percent of the gains but 64 percent of maximum gains think about that one set per week is nothing you can pause the video now go to a set of bicep curls to failure and take you about 30 seconds and that alone would get you in the range

Of 64 percent of your bicep gains for the week if you do decide to do a little more let’s say five to nine sets per week that would bring you up to 84 of maximum gains but it’s actually even better than that for the minimalist because there are a number of strategies we can use to get even more hypertrophic bang for our buck out of the limited set we do this can

Close the gap even further and get us ever closer to optimal while doing less but before we dig into those i should point out that the figures i just discussed do have a few limitations first the meta-analysis they come from pull the results of 15 studies but the majority of those studies were on untrained or quote recreationally trained subjects only two of the

Studies were done on properly trained lifters still of those two studies the ray of paper found no difference between three sets versus one set per session taken to failure and this alstroski paper found no statistically significant difference between 3 6 or 12 sets per week again all taken to failure although i should note that there were non-significant trends

In favor of the high volume group second these studies are all reporting averages on average people will make 64 percent of maximum gains by doing one to four sets per week but that doesn’t mean that everyone will make exactly 64 of maximum gains for some people that number will be higher for some people that number will be lower i should also make it clear that as

You gain more lifting experience you do tend to require more volume to keep making progress at a similar rate however this doesn’t mean that you can’t still make measurable progress by doing substantially less in fact there are highly veteraned bodybuilders that not only make do but thrive on low volume protocols dorian yates is considered one of the greatest ifbb

Pro bodybuilders of all time and this is what his chest training looked like he hit it chest once a week with just one set to failure per exercise for six to eight reps for him that meant a weekly chest volume of get this four sets per week and he built a chest like that of four sets per week now dorian yates obviously had some pharmaceutical enhancement on his side

But they’re examples of elite natural minimalists as well jeff alberts is one of the most decorated natural bodybuilders of all time and this is one of his current pull workouts where he trains back biceps and hamstrings two sets of seated leg curls two sets of rdls two sets of lap pull downs and two sets of cable bicep curls that’s it he’ll do some version of this

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Workout twice per week so for the most part he’s only doing four to eight sets per muscle per week of course they’re all very high exertion and masterfully executed and you can’t argue with his results there’s also people like martin birkin who inspired a generation of minimalists with his famous around itis article explaining how so many people waste their time

In the gym by not tracking workouts doing too much junk volume including way too much ab training and spending more time warming up than he does for his whole workout it’s also worth mentioning that so far i’ve only been talking about making gains but sometimes people just want to maintain what they’ve already built there’s nothing wrong with maintenance phases

And in this case you can get away with even less to study from bickel and colleagues found that subjects were able to maintain their muscle mass for eight months even when they drop their volume all the way down to one-ninth of what they were doing at baseline it’s a lot easier to maintain your gains than it is to build them from scratch now don’t get me wrong i

Love maximalist training right now i personally don’t mind spending one to two hours in the gym a day but there are times when i need to use a low volume minimalist routine and my point with the video so far is to show that minimalist training is a lot more effective than many people realize as especially if done correctly okay so with all this theory in mind let’s

Dig into some of the best minimalist training practices the first minimalist strategy is to push yourself harder than usual you can have it both ways if you’re gonna do a lower quantity of work you need to ensure that that work is high quality this means you need to execute each and every set as close to perfectly as possible the lower your volume is the higher

Your intensity should be to compensate and that’s my most important tip on a minimalist routine most sets should be taken all the way to failure so an rpe of 10 or at least within a rep or so of failure so an rp of nine or so the second minimalist strategy is to use drop sets in his textbook on the science and development of muscle hypertrophy dr brad schoenfeld

Suggests that drop sets can be used to increase training volume without substantially increasing session duration to make workouts more efficient now a drop set is when you extend a set beyond failure by dropping the weight back and performing more reps after your usual stopping point this allows you to get more high tension reps without killing time by resting

Reps are high tension because the muscle’s already been to failure once generally speaking after i hit failure once i’ll drop the weight back by 25 to 50 for my drop set and then i’ll take that weight to failure again without resting in between the third minimalist strategy is to use so-called sensible supersets now a superset is when you do two exercises back to

Back without resting in between it’s very common for people to do supersets for the same body part so like supersetting a bench press with dumbbell flies but research tells us this is a mistake this 2020 study found that training performance was decreased when supersets were performed on exercises that trained the same muscles however when supersets are performed

On exercises that don’t train the same muscles both exercises can still be maximized while saving on time so it would be smarter to superset your bench press with a dumbbell row for example since your pecs will be resting while your back is working and your back will be resting while your pecs are working it’s also fine for sensible supersets to be somewhat random

For example you could superset leg press with lateral raises on a full body day because the muscles involved on the 2xers sizes don’t overlap now if you were to break down how you actually spend your time in the gym you’d find that most of your time is not actually spent training but resting in between sets out of curiosity i did this myself and tracked a random

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Push day where i recorded the exact amount of time i spent lifting versus the amount of time i spent resting and this is how it broke down the entire workout took me one hour and 10 minutes so 70 minutes total of that 70 minutes i only spent 14 minutes actually lifting and i spent 56 minutes resting that included water breaks socializing with gym noobs and taking

Photos with fans so only about 20 percent of my work i was lifting and 80 percent was rested now i may rest a little bit longer than some but i can guarantee that most people will find that at least half their time in the gym is spent resting in between sets this tells us that if we want to make our workouts faster an obvious solution would be to use shorter rest

Periods but there’s a problem with this research shows that shorter rest periods tend to be worse for hypertrophy because you can’t fully recover in between sets so resting one to four minutes between sets is the typical science-based recommendation however there is evidence showing that if you gradually reduce your rest periods over time you can still maximize

Hypertrophy because your cardiovascular endurance will improve allowing you to recover faster in between sets in other words you can start by resting say two minutes between sets in week one then rest for 15 seconds less in week two 15 seconds less again in week three until eventually you get down to just one minute rest in between sets lastly the minimalist should

Try to cut down on their warm-up time whenever i’m in a time crunch i’ll just do three to five minutes on the treadmill a few quick dynamic stretches and hop right into it after a quick general warm-up the minimalist can choose exercises that don’t require as many warm-up sets for example if i do barbell back squats i’ll generally need four or five warm-up sets to

Even get to my working weight and then i’ll usually do two to four more working sets from there that takes a lot of time but if i do a machine hack squat i’ll only need two warm-up sets before i start the real working sets so by prioritizing machine exercises that require less warm-up you can cut down down on your total training time as well now before we wrap it up

I want to quickly announce that i just opened up a new program for pre-sale that’s designed to get you in and out of the gym in under 45 minutes studies show that one of the most commonly cited barriers to resistance training is lack of time so i wanted to create a routine that could have people getting effective and intense workouts as time efficiently as possible

So if this sounds like something you might be interested in you can visit to check it out the program comes in a two day per week three day per week four day per week and five day per week version depending on just how busy you are and as a minimalist routine it’s appropriate for all levels of advancement assuming you’re looking to prioritize time

Efficiency the pre-order will last for one week and if you pre-order you’ll get all four versions of the program and you’ll also save 30 off the regular price so if you pre-order you’ll have all four versions of the essentials program forever if you missed the pre-sale you’ll just choose which one of the programs you want based on your schedule pre-order lasts

Until next sunday october 23rd and if you pre-order now all four versions of the program will be delivered to your inbox on october 23rd if you’re watching this after the pre-order is over i’ll leave a discount code in the description box so you can still save some money if you want to pick it up so that’s it for this one guys thank you so much for watching don’t

Forget to leave me a thumbs up if you enjoyed the video subscribe if you haven’t already and i’ll see you guys all here in the next one

Transcribed from video
How To Train Like A Minimalist (More Gains In Less Time) By Jeff Nippard