My Workout Philosophy: Avoid These 4 Mistakes I Made

My Workout Philosophy

As of this moment, I am writing this article on my workout philosophy from our family house in my home town Startsevo. Over the last week, my workouts have taken place outdoors. Two kettlebells and two resistance bands – my complete minimalist fitness equipment for the whole stay here.

The surroundings are magical—all green woods. Clean air. I can still hear some noise - from the wind, the trees, and my neighbors' animals. This isn't noise. It's the song of the gracious rural nature.

I can smell the blossom of the bushes and the trees surrounding my family house. It brings a moment of memories. I let myself sink in for a moment. The flow of memories makes me weightless.

My sister comes up the stairs and kills the moment with her laughter, as she sees my working-rural-installation-desk.

It looks like this.

Working from Home - Milaonsupplements

No filter here.

This is just another moment that confirms my philosophy towards the need for simplicity and minimalism, even in fitness. Years ago, I would have never imagined doing workouts with only two kettlebells and two resistant bands. It wouldn't have been enough equipment for a fulfilling workout.

But here I am today — training with minimum equipment feeling complete.

The purpose of this post is to explain my philosophical views on the way I train with minimum equipment, investing less time, and still notching up awe results.

If you haven't read my previous two articles (which I believe are fundamentals for the idea behind this blog), read who I am and what's my nutrition philosophy.

Do I Even Lift

When I started lifting weights (with home-made equipment), I was a young and dumb—15-year-old girl from a small village in Rhodope mountain. I had no access to a gym. And at that time, I had never heard of such a thing as a structured training program.

Once my parents bought us a PC, and I had access to the Internet at home, I became obsessed with all the training methods known to that day. And that obsession was growing from learning to trying these methods. I tried different bodybuilding splits, only doing cardio, high-volume workouts, double workout routines, HIIT, sprinting, long-distance running, weightlifting, and of course, CrossFit.

Each time a new trending training method was born, I was at y desk with a new excel sheet chasing the program, making new calculations. It's not that I didn't have good results.

I had average results while putting above-the-average efforts.

I mean, for years, I did 10K morning runs in the freaking heat at Plovdiv's Regatta Venue, and then in the afternoon, I was doing CrossFit for 90 minutes(!). And I scored very good times with almost all complexes Rx'd (WOD done without any adjustments).

I put 100% plus 100% more each day. I didn't have rest days. It was just ridiculous efforts for mediocre results. But as I said, I was young and dumb. However, all these long-hours of training did teach me something.

Training each day, under whatever conditions, was just a habit for me. Whether it's hot or cold, whether the sun is burning or the clouds are pouring rain, I will be on the running track, doing my 10K's. I had the discipline to workout like crazy because I had something I loved doing.

And I think it's important to understand that discipline is a myth. You cannot (it's very difficult) to be disciplined towards something you don't like or love.

Here is what Charles R. Poliquin says about discipline, and I agree at 100%:

15 Minutes Each Morning…

…was all I had.

Almost three years ago, while I was hustling on milaonsupplements.com (version 1), I was offered a dream job position in a tech startup. Extra-preneurship and side projects were a passion of mine (this is how milaonsupplements.com was born), and I gladly accepted that opportunity.

But working as a growth lead in a startup comes with a price. And that price is high. It's called time. The unit of measurement is called scarcity.

Hello, 5 AM mornings (but not because this is the routine of the highly-successful people, lol). If I wanted to keep my side-projects alive (including this website), to work for the startup, and keep my daily routine undisturbed, I had to wake up earlier than before.

And still, all I had left for my workouts were 15 minutes each morning. I mean, what do you do with 15 minutes, when you are accustomed to working out for at least an hour? How do you re-structure these 15 minutes? Which exercises do you choose? How do you prioritize movements and weight? Do you even start a workout when you know that you have only 15 minutes?

I think that most people make this mistake. If they have only 15 minutes per day to workout, they won't bother doing it. Because what we usually see on social media are fitness influencers, promoting long, hard, and heavy workouts. But the majority of them are professional athletes. And they can afford such long workouts each day. At the end of the day, this is what they do for a living.

The thing is that there is a good solution for people with standard "9 to 5" work. Until recently, I used to fall into that group too. What I did during that time is developing my own workout philosophy, thanks to the years of experimentation due to the lack of time I had.

"Don't be an expert. Be an experimenter."

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The Basis of My Workout Philosophy

The fundamental principle that defines my workout philosophy is straightforward: prioritizing frequency over volume. Fifteen minutes a day is not enough time to generate high-volume workouts; however, 15 minutes each day is enough to train each muscle group with high frequency. And the physical transformation I went through the last two years while doing high-frequency, low-volume workouts are proof that my workout philosophy is doable.

Of course, bear in mind that I am not a professional athlete, and I am not preparing my body for sports competitions. I am an extra-preneur who builds online businesses, puts between 10 and 16 hours of work every single day of the week. I usually don't do rest days. And I don't do "chillouts." My rest days are in the mountains – hiking. I believe that working out each day is what keeps my stamina stable.

What's My Workout Philosophy's Goal

The simple answer is: my goal is to gain such stamina through frequent workouts and proper nutrition, so I can still work meaningful and productive hours till my last day on this earth. What I do for a living is something I genuinely enjoy. It doesn't feel like working.

I also want to be prepared for every opportunity that comes my way. I want to have the stamina and endurance as if each week, I am required to hike K2.

Last but not least, a well-trained body reacts much more stably when faced with emotional problems. A well-trained body behaves stoically. I've been through enough shit in my life to understand that my physical endurance helped a lot when enduring emotional issues.

4 Fundamental Mistakes I've Done, Which You Should Avoid

I'll cut straight to the chase.

4 Fundamental Mistakes I’ve Done, Which You Should Avoid

Mistake #1: I tried to copy athletes' programs

This is the biggest fallacy when it comes to training. We easily "fall in love" with professional athletes on social media. Often, they monetize their channels by selling us their programs "fit for everyone" only to find ourselves unable to cope with the program. We have to comprehend that there isn't a workout, which is ideal for every individual. You will have to modify it so it will fit your lifestyle and goals.

And remember, if your goal is NOT to be an athlete or to live in the gym, you better copy someone who is more likely to share your goals and lifestyle struggles.

Mistake #2: I pushed myself to do workouts which I hated just to be validated

I hate doing one to three reps programs, where maximum effort is required. And I find it the hard way when I "burned out," and I was afraid to lift weights for a whole month. Do you know how it feels like to be scared to go near dumbbells and barbers?

It's an awful feeling.

I went through this shit one summer, and I would never make this mistake again. I did heavy weightlifting sessions just because it was trending during that period. And all I wanted was peer validation. Ever since that, I don't give a shit what's trending.

Mistake #3: It's not OK to change your workout programs every few weeks

You see. We are an awful peer society. I often see peers on social media (especially on Instagram) telling people that if they can't hold on to a program for at least 12 weeks, they aren't consistent, and they won't achieve their goals.

I remember how I used to hold on to a workout program, which I purely hated, just for the sake of not being blamed by my peers.

Nowadays, I am probably adjusting my workout program every three weeks (while my workout philosophy doesn't change). I will adapt them to the way I feel, not the way my peer community feels.

I always say:

"It is better to be happy in our own way than unhappy in a conventional way."

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Moreover, two years ago, I found out about Christian Thibaudeau's Neurotyping program. I got certified, and it helped me so much understanding why I couldn't hold on to a particular method for more than three weeks. After I did three tests to determine my neurotypе (type 1B), I just realized that I get bored once I don't see a challenge in my workouts anymore.

I am a very competitive person, high-achiever, and I feed my drive for development through challenging workouts. And if this means for me to adjust my workouts every three weeks, so I can keep pushing forward to reach my goals, then I'll do so.

Through the years of trying so many training methods, I've developed my own training philosophy, which keeps me highly motivated (not my favorite word) each day. Today, I don't have to make drastic changes such as, let's say, switching from bodybuilding split to CrossFit program. Instead, I am incorporating best from all my favorite strength training methods and adjusting my program whenever I feel like focusing on different aspects of my performance.

Mistake #4: Effective Workouts Should be Long

If I have to train only when I have an hour of free time, then probably I will workout once per week.

One of my fundamental principles is maximizing efficiency while maintaining the balance of health and performance. I just don't want to put so much time and effort into optimizing my body that I don't have time actually to enjoy the life I have and the body I'm building.

Personally, I've found a way of training that's natural for me, and it still lets me feel, look, and perform at my peak. And the best part is that I can fit a good workout in 15 minutes of active and concentrated training.

Don't make my past mistake. Even if you have only 5 minutes for a workout, do it. Do 5 minutes of squats and push-ups. It's better to start doing 5 minutes per day, instead of doing zero mines per day. 5+5+5+5+5+5+5 adds up to 35 minutes of activity per week. 0+0+0…you do the math – no matter how many zeroes you add, the result is still zero.

Who Will Benefit From My Workout Philosophy and Training Approach

My workout philosophy is suitable for anyone who wants to optimize their workouts for the little time they have. I practice fitness minimalism, and I did a lot of experiments with time and exercises during the last two years.

And with a hand on my heart, I can say that 15-30 minutes per day of hard work is enough to achieve awe results. Consistency adds up to your end goal. Frequency builds the habit and the mentality of a person, ready to squeeze whatever time she has to pursue its health goals.

What's the Structure of my Workouts

I like to do my workouts in the morning. Usually, I woke up around 5:45 AM. I prepare my coffee and read for an hour. Thirty minutes before finishing my reading session, I take my pre-workout supplements. Thirty minutes later, I am ready to start my workout.

Here is how I roughly distribute 30 minutes of my morning time for a warm-up, workout, and post-workout stretch:

  • Warm-up – 5 minutes
  • Slow, steady cardio – 5 minutes
  • Active workout – 15 minutes
  • Post-workout stretch – 5 minutes

Sometimes, I will have only 15 minutes for an end-to-end workout:

  • Warm-up – 5 minutes
  • Active workout – 10 minutes

But I put 1000% effort in my workouts. I choose multi-joint exercises, and I try to use heavy weights in the range of 5-8 reps. I use minimum rest between circles.

Example of a 15-minute Workout #1

Example of a 15-minute Workout #1

Component A - Upper Body Metabolic Drill

Time: 5 minutes = 4 rounds, rest 30 secs only between circles

Muscle Groups: Shoulders

Exercise combo:

4 rounds, no rest between exercises, 30 secs rest between each circle

  • A1. Handstands hold x 15 reps
  • A2. Swings (L+R+Both) x 15 reps

Component B - Lower Body Metabolic Drill

Time: 5 minutes = 4 rounds, rest 30 secs only between circles

Muscle Groups: Glutes + VMO

Exercise combo:

  • B1. Glutes Squat x 8 reps
  • B2. Front squat with elevated heels x 8 reps

Component C - Assistance Metabolic Drill

Time: 5 minutes = 6 rounds, rest 30 secs only between circles

Muscle Groups: Core

Exercise combo:

  • C1. Knees to Elbows x 4-6 reps
  • C2. Side Hip Twists x 4-6 reps per side

Total time: 15 minutes

Example of a 15-minute Workout #2

This is one of my favorite minimalist fitness approaches I've tried. I use it when I want to focus on one compound exercise and when I feel like lifting heavier.

Let's choose Romanian Deadlift for this example:

Micro cycle 1: 5 minutes @ 60% 1RM*

  • 1st minute – 30 secs work, 30 secs rest
  • 2nd minute – 30 secs work, 30 secs rest
  • 3rd minute – 30 secs work, 30 secs rest
  • 4th minute – 30 secs work, 30 secs rest
  • 5th minute – 30 secs work, 30 secs rest

Micro cycle 2: 5 minutes @ 70% 1RM

  • 1st minute – 30 secs work, 30 secs rest
  • 2nd minute – 30 secs work, 30 secs rest
  • 3rd minute – 30 secs work, 30 secs rest
  • 4th minute – 30 secs work, 30 secs rest
  • 5th minute – 30 secs work, 30 secs rest

Micro cycle 3: 5 minutes @ 80% 1RM

  • 1st minute – 30 secs work, 30 secs rest
  • 2nd minute – 30 secs work, 30 secs rest
  • 3rd minute – 30 secs work, 30 secs rest
  • 4th minute – 30 secs work, 30 secs rest
  • 5th minute – 30 secs work, 30 secs rest

I guarantee you that at the end of the 3rd micro-cycle, you will be the "walking dead." Moreover, this approach could be used with three different compound exercises, each exercise representing a 5-minute micro-cycle for a total of 15 minutes workout.

*1RM= one-rep max.

Here is an example of 3 different exercises:

Example of a 15-minute Workout #2

A. Push Press

  • 1st minute – 30 secs work, 30 secs rest
  • 2nd minute – 30 secs work, 30 secs rest
  • 3rd minute – 30 secs work, 30 secs rest
  • 4th minute – 30 secs work, 30 secs rest
  • 5th minute – 30 secs work, 30 secs rest

B. Bench Press

  • 1st minute – 30 secs work, 30 secs rest
  • 2nd minute – 30 secs work, 30 secs rest
  • 3rd minute – 30 secs work, 30 secs rest
  • 4th minute – 30 secs work, 30 secs rest
  • 5th minute – 30 secs work, 30 secs rest

C. Squat

  • 1st minute – 30 secs work, 30 secs rest
  • 2nd minute – 30 secs work, 30 secs rest
  • 3rd minute – 30 secs work, 30 secs rest
  • 4th minute – 30 secs work, 30 secs rest
  • 5th minute – 30 secs work, 30 secs rest

Total time: 15 minutes

Now, depicted through a tangible workout system, how do these 15-minute workouts feel like to you? Do you still think that it's not worth starting a workout if you have only 15 minutes per day?

From my experience and success with this workout philosophy - it's worth it. Don't waste these 15 minutes. They are your path to, perhaps, slow but sustainable results.

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