My Minimalist Digital Nomad Workout

For me, living a digital nomad lifestyle goes hand in hand with being a minimalist. After all, what’s the point of being completely location indenpendent, i.e. free as a bird, if you are constantly carrying two major suitcases and a monstrous backpack around? More stuff just weighs you down, and that’s the opposite of being as mobile as possible.

However, that doesn’t just go for the things that you carry with you; it also applies to the environment and the equipment needed for certain key activities in your life – such as keeping fit. “Normal” people join a gym, because for some reason, they feel like they NEED a special place to work out, they NEED a wide range of equipment, they NEED to wear certain clothes while doing so, etc. And of course, in order to do all of that, they need enter an agreement with the gym owner in the first place, further binding them to one place.

Of course, you could just join a local gym wherever the wind blows you, just opting for a short-term membership. To me, even that is still too much hassle. But that’s not even at the heart of it. The true problem is: Why do most of us have to overblow physical fitness into this complicated project, which can only take place in kind of like a laboratory setting?

Don’t get me wrong: If you love the sport of powerlifting with a passion, you sure need some barbells. I like the sport of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, so I carry a gi with me. Nevertheless, most people that go to the gym don’t love the sport of sitting-down-in-the-butterfly-machine-and-moving-my-forearms-back-and-forth-horizontally.

They simply don’t know better.

You hardly need any equipment to stay fit or even to get ripped. If you are a professional athlete, trying to max out your utmost potential, yes, using equipment does make a difference. But that’s probably about 2% of the people that I have ever trained during my time as a BJJ and MMA coach. The rest didn’t need ANY. However, it’s the amateurs, the people who know very little about working out, the ones who round their backs while deadlifting and do barbell curls in the squat rack, who think they can’t do without it. Their reasoning is if the pros are doing this, then I should get better and faster results from this too.

Wrong.

You need to develop body tension and core strength first, to a degree that will keep you busy for a few years. Can’t do 5 pull ups completely extending your arms at the bottom and without overarching your back? Why do you EVEN think about protein intake before and after training then?!

Get the basics straight first. And those basics will keep you busy for a long time, trust me. More importantly, they WILL give you results. Focus on form, not on super sets. I hadn’t even planned on turning this into a sermon, but here we go again…

Okay, so what SHOULD you do?

The answer is clear: Keep it as simple as possible.

  • Upper body: Do a pressing motion. Do a pulling motion.
  • Lower body: Do some type of squat.
  • Optional: Do an exercise to strengthen your core muscles; optional, because you are already doing that with all the previous exercises anyways, IF you are doing them correctly.

That’s it.

This is going to look slightly different for each person, depending on your personal strength levels. But, I’ll roughly outline the progression really quickly:

  • Upper body pressing motion: Work your way from the push up to (free standing) handstand push ups. Start with wall push ups or push ups on your knees if the regular push up is too difficult for you.
  • Upper body pulling motion: Work your way from hanging vertical pulls to full range of motion pull ups. Hanging vertical pulls can be easily performed under any kind of table and I am yet to find a city in this world that doesn’t have some kind of scaffolding that is perfect for those strict pull ups. Notice something? The progression for the pressing and pulling kind of mirror each other – maybe nature is trying to tell you something? Who knows…
  • Lower body squat: Work your way from regular air squats to box pistols to regular pistols.

Again, I would argue that 98% of us, including myself, will only ever need this. I do 2 sets of each basic motion to failure, but even doing just 1 is probably more than enough and WILL get you the results, IF you actually do this daily. You don’t need 3 monstrous workout sessions a week, a regimen that most of us will stop doing at the 3 month mark, if we even get that far. Instead, you need to do your basic gymnastics every day, for the rest of your life, and with perfect FORM.

Form is really where it is at, and this is exactly where most people go wrong. If I see another clown telling me he can do 50 push ups, while arching his lower back like a cobra, hanging his head, and generally keeping his elbows out as wide as possible, I might start slapping people. Please: As wordy as he can be, but watch some Kelly Starrett. Among all the chatter, he really does have the right ideas about mid-line stabilization and other basics of safely working out.

Learn to do these basics RIGHT and these seemingly easy exercises will provide all the resistance you need – on the road or at home, it really doesn’t matter.

It’s well worth it.