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The Minimalist Guide to Strength Training:
Ditch the gym – build strength and muscle anywhere
Authored and published by Owen Johnston
Free books and videos at my website –

Owen Johnston –
Copyright Information
The Minimalist Guide to Strength Training
Fitness Instruction, 5th Edition
Authored and published by Owen Johnston
Edited by T.O.D. Johnston
© Owen Johnston, 2017. Licensed under the Attribution NonCommercial
NoDerivatives 3.0 License -
You are encouraged to share the book, print it out, and upload it to other sites. I want
to change the world one life at a time, and help people ditch the gym! You can build muscle
and strength with bodyweight. Work out for free anywhere! Don't buy the scams and
misinformation sold by the fitness industry.
“Every day, we change the world, but to change the world in a way that means
anything, that takes more time than most people have. It never happens all at once. It’s slow.
It’s methodical. It’s exhausting. We don’t all have the stomach for it.” - Mr. Robot
You can order a professionally printed edition of the book through Simple Print
Service. Visit the page below, upload a PDF, and follow the simple ordering process. I do not
make a single cent from orders made through this service.
About the author
I have over 10 years of teaching experience, including martial arts instruction, strength
coaching, and personal training. I have worked with many types of athletes, including
professional boxers, amateur wrestlers, karate students, and gymnasts of varying levels of
ability. Visit my site for more information, free downloads, and strength training playlists:


Owen Johnston –
This book is intended for people of good health and physical condition. The training
methods and advice in this book may not be for everyone. Always consult your physician
before starting a new exercise program. I am not a physician, and as such, nothing in this
book should in any way be taken as medical advice or a substitute for medical advice. Also,
this book should not be used to replace advice from your personal physician.
Physical activity always carries with it a risk of injury. When you practice the training
methods in this book, always practice proper safety precaution, use proper technique, and
apply common sense. The author can not assume any responsibility for any injury, illness, loss
or damage that may result from following the training methods in this book.
Lastly, this book is not a replacement for formal instruction. Be sure to seek out a
competent, qualified instructor who may carefully observe your progress and provide
feedback. This book is intended primarily to be a supplement to, not a replacement for, formal


Owen Johnston –
About the guide
The primary focus of this book is progressive calisthenics, a minimalist and nondogmatic approach to strength training. Simple, minimalistic training using calisthenics work
to build coordination and neuromuscular strength. Like weight training, calisthenics can also
be made progressively harder.
In old school calisthenics, the goal is to build joint integrity, overall health,
coordination, and raw "brute" strength, using tested techniques. These techniques are treated
as skills to be worked diligently for as long as they yielded coordination and postural
improvements, and strength gains. In this way, such training can benefit martial arts training.
The secondary focuses of the book are karate training and developing your own
training areas. You can repurpose materials that you have already or can find lying around, so
equipment doesn’t have to cost anything to make!
About the author
I have over 10 years of teaching experience, including martial arts instruction, strength
coaching, and personal training. I have worked with many types of athletes, including
professional boxers, amateur wrestlers, karate students, and gymnasts of varying levels of
ability. Visit my site for more information, free downloads, and strength training playlists:


Owen Johnston –
Table of Contents
Fitness 101
Transform your life!
Thoughts on Training
Specificity in Training and Setting Goals
Progressive Calisthenics – introductory article
Calisthenics Exercises using Benches
An Essay on Flexibility
Building up to full pullups
Dead hang gymnastics pullovers
One Arm Pullup Training
Jowett Pushups
Gymnastics Backbend Tips
Mobility work – tension flexibility exercises
Karate approach to calisthenics
Karate approach to calisthenics, part 2
Abdominal training basics
Methods of progression in calisthenics
Progressive Calisthenics Lifestyle
Ultimate Leg Training
Odd Object Training for Strength
Old Time Strongmen - Training and Resources
Sandbag training for functional, real world strength
Caveman Conditioning:
Uncivilized, Minimalist Training Methods
Street Workouts – minimalist training, anywhere
Hojo Undo - Supplementary training exercises for karate
Hojo Undo project - wall mounted car tire makiwara board
Poor Man's Strength Training
Calisthenics Program Design for Beginners
Calisthenics Program Design for Advanced Athletes
Calisthenics Programs
workouts from remedial through advanced
Calisthenics Progressions
“Quick start guides” (short primers)






- 185
- 223

Owen Johnston –


Owen Johnston –
Fitness 101 – A Basic Tutorial
There are many benefits to exercise, including burning calories, elevating your mood,
and heart disease prevention. Using cardio training to improve your fitness also improves
your circulatory system, strengthens your heart and lungs, improves bone density, which all
help immensely not just with other types of exercise, but life in general! Benefits to lifestyle
include improved mood, stress / depression relief, better posture, being able to fall asleep
quicker, as well as sleeping more deeply.
Not only that, strength training helps not only build your muscle mass and strength,
but also your endurance, and performance of daily activities such as lifting, carrying, and
walking. Your flexibility is also enhanced, which helps to prevent back pain, and pulling
muscles. Not only that, even your ligaments and tendons adapt to training, and become
stronger, and less prone to injury. The additional muscle and bone density gained in training
also help in reducing injury to joints.
The metabolism definitely gets a boost with effective training, which results in
improved body composition. The end result will be more muscle and less body fat. More
muscle doesn't necessarily mean a big, bulky look - but regular, effective exercise will (as a
rule) result in improved muscle tone.
Since this is not meant to be a comprehensive article, keep in mind that there is a lot
more to understanding fitness than I can condense into just a few pages. Nutrition and
lifestyle changes are two important topics to consider when starting a new fitness program.
Also, it's a good idea to talk to a certified fitness trainer who can help you figure out the best
options and routines. Lastly, if you're new to fitness, you'll want to get at least a basic idea
about nutrition, body mechanics, and fitness concepts.
If you're just starting out, I recommend calisthenics, also known as body weight
training. Calisthenics train the whole body – muscles and joints. This means no equipment
required, so you can practice the exercises anywhere. Practicing calisthenics builds strength
and muscle tone very naturally. It also boosts the metabolism. Even if you're already in shape,
easier calisthenics exercises can help train your whole body, strengthen any weak areas, and
rehabilitate joints.
I personally teach my own unique approach to calisthenics, which is given a general
description in the article “Progressive Calisthenics – introductory article”. I would highly
recommend progressive calisthenics to anyone trying to get into shape. It's an approach, not a
set routine! Once you understand the basic concepts, you can become your own coach.
Before starting a program, though, be sure to find a workout partner you trust, or talk
to a certified fitness trainer. Gradually introduce more protein into your diet from natural
sources if needed. (Nuts, grains, cheese, milk, etc.)


Owen Johnston –
Change up your routines up once in a while if it helps you stay motivated. Also, what
you do outside of the gym or exercise in general is just as important, such as making any
necessary lifestyle changes, as well as getting the right nutrition and rest. Always try to eat
fresh and drink things like water, tea, fruit smoothies etc instead of sodas.
If you want to bulk up, work up to heavy weight and/or hard calisthenics exercises with
low reps. If you want to tone up, you will want to start burning off any unhealthy weight, while
also building muscle in challenging strength sessions. The key is to burn more calories than
you take in. Remember to have a small, nutritious meal after a hard workout, such as a
protein shake and a piece of fruit. Also, always give your body enough recovery time after a
workout. Moderately heavy to heavy amounts of lifting should be done every other day to
allow time to recover. ("Heavy" depending upon what level of training you are at.)
Need to lose weight? Get out and get movin'! Get any kind of cardio you can fit into
your daily routine. Do laundry, some yard work, walk the dog, whatever! Get on the bike, jog,
take an aerobics class...The list goes on! Find a friend to go outside and get active with - have
fun with it!
Remember to set realistic goals - such as allowing a few months to achieve the right
look. Feel free to research other exercises as needed to help train for your own personal
performance goals, and talk to your fitness instructor for ideas on how to tweak your routine.
Always warm up and stretch properly before you begin your workout. Warmups should
usually include joint rotations, which oil up the joints, and some kind of aerobic activity, such
as skipping rope, walking, or jogging. Aerobic activity warms up your body temperature and
increases blood flowing. This helps to improve your muscular performance and 'elasticity',
which helps to prevent injury (such as pulling a muscle).
If you do not stretch correctly, injuries can occur, so always start slowly if you are new
to flexibility training. Start with a few minutes of static stretching, which is used to stretch out
the muscles while the body is at rest, then move onto dynamic stretching. Remember to do
light aerobic activity such as walking or jogging and some more static stretching, at the end of
your workout to cool down the body.


Owen Johnston –
Transform your life!
With time, patience, proper training, proper nutrition, and proper attention to lifestyle
factors, almost anyone can transform their body and their life. It takes a lot of time and
dedication – it could take at least a full year to achieve a trim, proportioned, fit look. Yes, of
course you will see some results within two weeks if you’re training at least twice a week and
watching your nutrition.
But to get a whole new body – trimming down while building up the muscles – is a long
term, difficult process. It takes time to replace old habits with new ones. You also have to pay
a lot of attention to nutrition, losing weight slowly (instead of too quickly), learning how to
train (skill), building up the stamina and strength for truly intense training, while not over
training. Over training fatigues mind and body, slowing your progress, and over training also
leads to injury. Certainly, you do want to train hard, but allow for recovery. Push past your
comfort zone, but not to injury.
The fortunate thing, though, is that hard work builds not just strength, but willpower
and confidence as well. It takes guts and tenacity to train hard! Most people give up too easily,
before they see results. Don’t give up! Climb that mountain!


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