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

by Marianne  - March 27, 2012

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.





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  1. Hi Marrianne, well and for the secound week the numbers of exercises are with high reps. Wanna start do somthin else too… to running. 1 day training with Kettlebells, secound day to run ..and that all week and rest in sunday can you please tell me wat program to use of these here i want one for fat loss … or how they called HIIT programs or somthin like that ty in advance and sorry for my bad english 🙂

    1. Angel, Fat loss is more complex than just the workouts your choose. The main thing I stress with what is “best” for you is something you can stick to and enjoy. But with a mind to have a mixture of cardio (like running) and resistance/strength training (like traditional weights or Kettlebells). The reason is to encourage muscle growth along with fat loss so you get more “toned”, rather than just thinner and thinner with little shape. With KB training, even the HIIT style workouts will help you achieve both muscle gain and fat loss *provided* you: support your training with a sensible diet of no extreme. This means no low calorie diet or excessive eating.

      And finally, RECOVERY! Exercise is stress and recovery is when the changes happen. This is why people who train too much won’t see many changes and will lose shape and strength over time. But finding a happy medium is the individual part. You sometimes need to give a style of training and eating about 2-3 months to see if you like the results. They don’t happen quickly.

      I can only give you very general advice,but I hope it helps none the less 🙂

  2. HiMarianne:)

    Just finish my first workout ever 🙂

    the results are:

    Body Weight Squat x 50 reps.
    Body Weight Glute Bridge X 25 reps.
    Push Up x 15
    Single-Arm Row x 15 reps. eacj side
    Front Plank X 110 sec.

    and im so happy have a nice day 🙂

      1. TY 🙂 with 16kg.Kettlebell and minimum rest between the exercises… and btw how much to rest between the exercises? or no rest ?

          1. Ok, its me again :d

            after 5 days workouts,

            Body Weight Squat x 70 reps.
            Body Weight Glute Bridge X 45 reps.
            Push Up x 26
            Single-Arm Row x 25 reps. each side
            Front Plank X 120 sec.

            with 16kg. 🙂

            will rest saturday and sunday , will do some loong walks 🙂 and next week will do the secound workout 🙂

  3. Hi, Marianne. Sorry for my english… so must do first workout, then secound workout next week right…. untill i get stronger and start do this workouts with weights? and must do them 7/7 or ? when must start other workouts?

    1. Hi Angel,

      I would suggest alternating these workouts 5-6 days per week while using body weight. During this time, you want to focus on good form and doing as many good reps as you can (so you are adding reps). After about 4-6 weeks, you could start adding weight and doing less reps again. The main thing with beginners is good control and endurance. Strength will come, but it must be on a good foundation. After the initial 4-6 weeks, you can start building more strength with less emphasis on endurance (so reps stay around 8-12).

      This is only a rough guide to get you started. A more specific plan might be needed for your particular goals and experience and body type. but everyone will see some sort of results from these basic workouts.

  4. Thank you so much for this! As a complete beginner to working out, it is super helpful to have the videos that demonstrate proper form. It makes me feel much more confident that I am doing the exercises properly as opposed to just a description or photo alone.

    I recently bought two Jillian Michaels dvds and I really wish she had a brief video on them to show the movements from different angles. Her programs are so fast-paced! I feel like I’m just getting the hang of one exercise by the time she is moving on to the next one, so I was looking for some some of workout to break me in before I tackle her stuff. I think I’ve found my solution here! Again, thanks!

  5. hi marianne 🙂 first off just want to say thank u for posting such a beginner friendly workout
    i have been doing workout one for 1 full week now is all and am starting as a complete novice but am very excited!
    could u please have a look at my reps and see if u think i would be ready to move onto workout video 2 in this post?
    round 1
    -bodyweight squats x 42
    -glute bridge x 36
    -pushups (from knees) x 8
    -single arm rows x 8 each side with 10kg kettlebell (was using 5kg dumbbell upto 2 nights ago)
    -front plank x 60secs

    round 2
    -bodyweight squats x 24
    -glute bridges x 18
    -pushups (from knees) x 6
    -single arm rows x 5 each side with 10kg kettlebell
    -front plank x 30secs

    i know it is not yet alot but i am aiming to really build up on this and hav been really concentrating on tryin to get the form and position of each movement correct and your video is really a great visual reference i can play each time just to check my positioning and been tormentin my husband to make sure it looks right and count the plank secs for me 🙂
    i am already impressed with doing this after only a week there is already a visible and physical difference and i keep tellin myself i can only get better the more i do it
    any tips or pointers u have would be very welcome
    thanks a mill!
    ps.really lovin the beginners corner its very motivating and encouraging

    1. Great job!

      Best advice is to keep progressing. The exercises where you are getting over 15 reps, start to add a little weight and aim for reps of about 8-12 🙂

  6. Hi Marriane, Ive started doing workout 1 and I have a question. I thought I read to do this everyday and do as many reps as possible, is that right? And if I’m to do it everyday when would I know its time to add weight? Monday I did 40 bw squats,65 bw hip bridges, 17 push ups w/step,23 left arm row & 28 right arm row w/8lb weight and a 59 sec. front plank. I’m not new to execise I’ve been off for a while. I really like your approach and truth as to why and how we’re to make progress. Thank you in advance, Shunda

    1. I think, Shunda, you are well ready to add weight. Try to choose a weight, or an exercise variation that lowers the reps to the 8-12 range. You can still vary it with higher rep Body Weight stuff, but heavier weights will take you to the next level. However, you should also reduce the frequency of your training to about 4 or 5 days per week to account for the added weight and allow for more recovery 🙂

      1. Thank You Marianne, your advice is really helping me. I’m now using a 20lb. Dumbell w/ squats & single arm row & 20lb. Barbell for weighted Glute bridges & I’ve also built up enough strength to do 7 pushups. I couldn’t even do 1 when I started. I feel myself getting stronger. I’m not going to rush myself because I really want to do all that heavy stuff I see you doing, but I know it’s a process. With all the sound advice and tutorials your website provides I’m well on my way to achieving my goals. You Rock!!!!! Thanks Marianne!!!!!

  7. Marianne,
    I’ve had a few months off training through one thing and another (battling a slight eating disorder). I’ve decided that I need to get back into lifting and found this workout saved to my favourites from ages ago. Just completed it and could’t believe how much its made me sweat and how much I enjoyed it!! I’m moving house soon so I hope to be able to kit out my new garage with a few more KBs!!

    Thanks for all the great work and inspiration.

    1. Hi Helen,

      Sorry to hear about your difficulties, but I am happy to hear you are working through them 🙂

      Good luck with the move and your new Garage set-up. I’m jealous 😉

  8. hi
    ive recently discovered kettle bells and trying to sort out my weight! but when i ge to the gym to use the kettle bells i forget the moves for intervals,, do you have section where u can print out workouts?
    keep up the good work

  9. Hi Marianne,

    I have been doing strength training for all my life, but have recently been researching and investing into kettlebell routines. I have a complete set of dumbbells and recently purchased a 15 lb and a 25 lb single kettlebell. I am wondering if you perform exercises that require 2 kettlebells at one time and if it is worth investing in a set of 2 kettlebells of the same weight.

    Thank you,


    1. Hi Rachel, I wouldn’t say you need to; it’s more a matter of preference and what money you have available. If I had to choose between buying a second KB of the same weight, or buying a heavier one, I’d go with the later 🙂

  10. I haven’t visited your site in a while and I’m so happy to see that you updated your beginner section! I’m so ready and motivated to get started. I just wanted to say a BIG thank you for this!

  11. I found a great deal on the competition kettlebells on I was able to get the 8kg competition kbell for 34 euro and free shipping. I’m so excited, I just thought I’d let you know. The website does free shipping up to 30kgs!

  12. Hello! I think your website is great! I found it on youtube when I was looking around for kettle bell information. I am having trouble figuring out what kettle bell would be the best to buy. I have very small hands almost like children sized hands. What do you suggest I do, so I don’t lose grip or buy a bell that I can’t hold on to. I looked through amazon and argos and I have seen where some say the handles are big. Any advice on where to get them would be great! Thanks for the great website!!

    1. Hey Stacey, thank you for your comment!

      I think that Dragon Door is now doing KBs for smaller hands, but I reckon they will be more pricey 🙁 You could do a search for “narrow grip” or “female grip” Kettlebells – because I know they are becoming more common. Otherwise, I suggest using chalk 🙂

      1. Thank you so much! I think I’m going to go to some sport stores in Dublin and try some out in my hands! Thanks again for everything!!

  13. I just tried this workout today. It was a great beginning and an easy way to begin the commitment to more fitness everyday. Thanks for the motivation!

  14. Thanks for the routines. I was wondering about the Single Arm Row. Can we do them with the one leg bent, like you show on the video, but with the other one in a kneeling position instead of stretched backwards like you do? I tried to do it the way you show it but I find putting all my weight on the bent knee is really uncomfortable and awkward for me. Thanks again for all your help!

    1. Hey there! You can do a Single Arm Bent Over Row, where you are placed in a cross between a deadlift and squat position, with torso forward. HERE is a tutorial I did for it. This way, both legs and hips take equal load. Note your weight should be transferred through your hips and legs, not your back. If you feel this too much in the low back, then sit the hip back a little more and retract the shoulders or raise the torso slightly.

      Hope this helps 🙂

  15. hi marianne congrats on launch of services page hope it is a big success, sorry ur stiff suffering from si flare up, im also struggling with my fm it is effecting right hip and glute at mo and i feel like its been a long time since ive done a really good workout (kids off school alot with illness since christmas also) ive gone backwards rather than forwards strength wise as i seem to b so so tired and i tend to put off going for a work out(this is not me). im v fortunate in the sense that i only have to walk out my back door and voila my gymn is there, but gosh does it take along to complete the few steps lol.
    i have a question could u please direct me to the tutorial on holding the kettlebell properly(ive looked and cant find sorry), im struggling with holding it with left hand and am covered in bruising its extremely fustrating as bell keeps slipping. many thanks

    1. Thanks Bug, great to hear from you 🙂 Don’t stress too much about a loss of strength. I have too lately, but sometimes you need a step back before you can take 2 forward again!

      As for the KB Tutorial – here’s a video I did a while back:

  16. Hi Marianne, I discovered you on youtube and fell in love with your workouts. I couldn’t do much of them when I first discovered you but my endurance is picking up. I have started to eat healthier and exercise with your workouts and I have now lost weight and can exercise much longer-although I am still in your beginners circle ;0) But I feel so much stronger and better now and I am so happy you have updated the beginners section because they are perfect for me right now. I hope I can soon move up to your more advanced levels. My question is how can one know when one can move to more advanced exercises or to do more reps? I guess listening to ones body would help but any other clue? ;0)Thank you for your contributions and God Bless you!!!

    1. Basically I would advise you to try the more advanced exercises every once in a while. If you are finding the beginner version easy, then try the more advanced one and see how you get on. It may be one or two exercises that are intermediate and the rest still beginner for a while, but keep gradually progressing (even if it’s only for a few reps or half the time, then regressing back to the beginner version). Just listen to your body … you’ll know 🙂


    2. thanks so much for this. I inquired on the eat, lift and be happy facebook page and this is exactly what i was looking for. challenging, but not daunting……perfect. i’ll let you know how it goes 🙂

  17. Pingback: Best Beginner's Home Workout Routines | Basic Fitness Workout … | At Home Fitness Routines
  18. Hi Marianne!
    Thank you for this! I have been needing some kind of basic program that isn’t intimidating. I can manage 10 minutes a day!
    Thank you!

  19. Thank you for revisiting some beginner exercises for us that are just starting or starting over again. My only question is how much weight to start with for the exercises that require them? I’d love to buy a kettlebell, but try aren’t cheap. Could you recommend a ballpark weight range to try?
    Love your videos, by the way. You are my ass inspiration, haha.

  20. These are great exercises for beginners, exactly what one needs to start from! 🙂

    The best part was when your cat came over to you while you where in a side plank! 😀 Awesome! :))

  21. Thanks, Marianne. I think these workout suggestions are good even for those who are more advanced. Returning to some of these basics will help me to revisit my form. Since I know going into it that I’m not going for endurance, I can increase my weight and challenge myself a bit. It’s always good to shoot for max reps (or max seconds of a hold) and aim for a personal best. This just might get me out of the workout rut I have been feeling the past few days! Cheers!

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