Start HERE! Best Beginner’s Home Workout Routines | Ten Minutes a Day

We all need to start somewhere and I am fully aware of the time constraints people have in their busy lives. For some people this can make training nearly impossible, and the thought of it is likely very stressful.

A few months back I was reading ANOTHER article on Bret Contreras’s site and it really struck a chord with me. Reading “Ten Minutes a Day Keeps the Doctor Away: A 5-Set Full Body Program” made me realise that getting people stronger, even a little bit each day, was enough to reduce the risk factors associated with many disease processes, help improve mental health, ingrain better movement patterns and begin forming the desire to be fitter.  All of these benefits are important, but what I love about the concept of 10 mins per day (for those people who just hate exercise), is that it doesn’t need to be a huge ordeal – it’s ONLY Ten Minutes!

Then, a few weeks ago I was having a conversation with my mum and she was telling me about a new fitness motivation she had. Her plan was to begin swimming and walking again. She also had an interest in beginning resistance training of some sort (inspired by Girls Gone Strong) – so I thought “Ten Minutes per Day” was just the sort of program that would get her started (as time is always tight for my mum).  After just a few days of practicing these exercises, she improved dramatically.  I think confidence is a large part of the puzzle, so once my mum realised she COULD do more than that first time etc, she kept it up and now she is feeling the positive effects of her 10 minutes of strength training per day.

Why you should start HERE:

  • There are only 5 exercises.  These may seem difficult at first, but you only have to do ONE set each day.  There is simply no excuse to not fit this in. Even if you don’t do all the exercises at the same time each day, you can still benefit from practicing the movements at your leisure.
  • Exercises to build on. Each one of these exercises can be advanced when you are ready and you will be able to measure your progressions.
  • You are not going to be jumping around your living room doing some crazy circuit that has you exhausted, sore and not a bit stronger. These 5 movement patterns allow your body to get stronger in real-life situations and will support your joints, rather than wreck them. After you have a basic level of strength and co-ordination etc, then you can branch out and try new workouts. But I strongly advise you to look for these 5 movements within any new workout program to continue to reinforce what you have already done.  Just by the by (and totally plugging my own workouts), each workout here is balanced and geared for at least these 5 movements. Some may call that boring and predictable, but I call it smart training – Lay strong foundations and build a body that will weather most storms!

Below are 2 workout samples that I have given my mum to practice. After a few more weeks of these, I will teach her some of the other exercises suggested in Bret’s article to keep progressing mums strength and keeping things fresh, so she doesn’t bore.  Plus there are other benefits from altering the variation of an exercise. For example: changing the squat to some sort of lunge will all you to build your co-ordination and balance in a more challenging way and still working the same muscle groups as the squat. Plus by exercising one leg at at time, you can even out any strength, stability, mobility imbalances unilaterally (one side at a time) – as we all have a weaker side.

My mum alternates these 2 workouts throughout each week.  She also swims and goes for brisk walks, to allow her to get the benefits of aerobic exercise, as well as anaerobic.

Workout 1

All you need to do is 1 round of these 5 exercises.  Record how many reps you manage each day in order to see your progress and to give you a number to beat the next time.  Allowing yourself to be challenged will help you become more focused on a fitness/life goal.  There’s no point in being focused in one area of life and not in another. I find my training mindset has helped me focus on the goals I want to achieve in outside of the gym.

  1. *Body Weight Squat (you can use a box if it helps) X as many reps as you can
  2. Body Weight Glute Bridge X max reps
  3. Push Up (from your knees, or with your hands placed on a step) X max reps
  4. Single-Arm Row (with a Kettlebell, Dumbbell, Sandbag) X max reps each side
  5. Front Plank X as many seconds as possible

Workout 2

This workout contains more weighted  and conditioning exercises, but the same rules apply – just do 1 round and just do as much as you can. If you are only doing 1 round, then try and make it a challenge. Push yourself a little!

  1. * Body Weight Reverse Lunge (either alternating or right side first then left) X max reps
  2. Two-Handed Kettlebell Swing or Kettlebell Deadlift (the swing is harder to master) X max reps
  3. Some sort of Overhead Press (Military Press, Push Press or Goblet Hold Overhead Press) X max reps
  4. Either Single-Arm Row or Bent Over Row X max reps
  5. Side Plank Hold (right and left) X max time

* Although “Body Weight” is specified and advised for absolute beginners, it is ok to eventually use additional weight with these exercises.  But only when you feel your form is strong enough.

Keep aiming for progression by increasing the number of good reps you can do or by increasing the weight.

With the advice given by Bret and the examples he provides for Beginner’s, Intermediates and Advanced workouts, it is possible to learn how to progress your own workout.  Building an awareness of when you are ready to increase the challenge is important so you do not hit a plateau.  By increasing the weight, you can still keep the time you spend doing these exercises to a minimum, yet still get stronger over time.

Then, if you do start getting a taste for training, you can try some of my other workouts here 😉

Let me know how you get on.




  • March 27, 2012

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