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Ten Minutes a Day Keeps the Doctor Away: A 5-Set Full Body Program

By January 5, 2012May 31st, 2022Strength, Strength Training

Chances are you have family members and friends who don’t perform resistance training. This is unfortunate given that lifting weights has been shown to be rather important for overall health and well-being. Many individuals struggle to find the necessary time and energy to devote toward physical fitness and health. You may wish to forward the link to this article to these folks in an attempt to change their minds.

How Often Should You Exercise?

In 2007, The ACSM and AMA released their updated physical activity and public health recommendations for adults. Here are some of their recommendations (click HERE to download the pdf):

1. To promote and maintain good health, adults aged 18–65 yr should maintain a physically active lifestyle.

2. They should perform moderate-intensity aerobic (endurance) physical activity for a minimum of 30 min on five days each week or vigorous-intensity aerobic activity for aminimum of 20 min on three days each week.

3. Combinations of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity can be performed to meet this recommendation. For example, a person can meet the recommendation by walking briskly for 30 min twice during the week and then jogging for 20 min on two other days.

4. These moderate- or vigorous intensity activities are in addition to the light intensity activities frequently performed during daily life (e.g., self care, washing dishes, using lighttools at a desk) or activities of very short duration (e.g., taking out trash, walking to parking lot at store or office).

5. Moderate-intensity aerobic activity, which is generally equivalent to a brisk walk and noticeably accelerates the heart rate, can be accumulated toward the 30-min minimumby performing bouts each lasting 10 or more minutes.

6. Vigorous-intensity activity is exemplified by jogging, and causes rapid breathing and a substantial increase in heart rate.

7. In addition, at least twice each week adults will benefit by performing activities using the major muscles of the body that maintain or increase muscular strength and endurance.

8. Because of the dose-response relation between physical activity and health, persons who wish to further improve their personal fitness, reduce their risk for chronic diseases and disabilities, or prevent unhealthy weight gain will likely benefit by exceeding the minimum recommended amount of physical activity.

Goblet Squat

Based on these associations’ recommendations, adults should seriously consider strength training at least two days per week.

What are the Health Benefits of Strength Training?

Many review papers elucidate the specific health benefits of strength training. Winnett and Carpinelli (2001) and Pollock and Vincent (1996) have listed multiple potential health-related benefits of strength training (click HERE and HERE to download the pdf’s), including:

  • Maintenance of functional ability
  • Prevent osteoporosis
  • Prevent sarcopenia
  • Prevent lower-back pain and other disabilities
  • Positively impact insulin-resistance
  • Positively impact metabolic rate
  • Positively impact glucose metabolism
  • Positively impact blood pressure
  • Positively impact body fat and central adiposity
  • Positively impact gastrointestinal transit time
  • Reduce the risk of diabetes
  • Reduce the risk of heart disease
  • Reduce the risk of cancer
  • Reduce the risk of falls, fractures and disabilities
  • Improve quality of life

Kraemer et al. 2002 (link to abstract) lists additional benefits, including:

  • Decrease cardiovascular demands of exercise
  • Improve blood-lipid profiles
  • Increase muscle and connective tissue cross-sectional area
  • Increase strength, power, endurance and hypertrophy

More recently, resistance training has been shown to improve:

  • Flexibility/mobility (Monteiro et al. 2008; Santos et al. 2010, Aquino et al. 2010, Simao et al. 2010; Morton et al. 2011; Nelson and Bandy 2004)
  • Joint stability (Carter et al. 2006, Durall et al. 2009, Nyland et al. 2011)
  • Spinal posture (Katzman et al. 2007)
  • Brain/cognitive function (Liu-Ambrose et al. 2010, Brown et al. 2009, Cassilhas et al. 2007)
  • Depression/mood (Levinger et al. 2011, Lincoln et al. 2011, Martins et al. 2011)
  • Self-esteem (Moore et al. 2011)

Combating Metabolic and Frailty Syndromes

Based on the aforementioned research, it’s rather safe to say that strength training is proven to improve overall health and well-being. However, I’d like to delve a bit more into two degenerative syndromes; metabolic syndrome and frailty syndrome. Most of the over-50 population I know who don’t exercise regularly exhibit many of the signs of these nasty syndromes. Sundell (2011) has defined them as follows (click HERE to download the pdf):

Metabolic syndrome is a set of risk factors that includes abdominal obesity, insulin resistance (a decreased ability to process glucose), hypertension, and dyslipidemia. This combination of medical disorders increases markedly the risk of arteriosclerotic vascular disease. The prevalence of metabolic syndrome is rapidly increasing worldwide, largely as a consequence of the ongoing obesity pandemic.

The frailty syndrome is a collection of symptoms or markers mainly due to the aging-related loss and dysfunction of skeletal muscle and bone. Subjects with the frailty syndrome have increased risk of adverse events such as death, disability, and institutionalization. The costs of frailty syndrome will increase dramatically as the elderly population grows over the next decade.

Here is the author’s conclusions regarding resistance training and these syndromes:

Metabolic syndrome is a set of risk factors (abdominal obesity, insulin resistance, hypertension, and dyslipidemia) which increases markedly the risk of arteriosclerotic vascular disease. In subjects with frailty syndrome, aging-related loss of muscle (sarcopenia) and bone (osteoporosis) might progress to the extent that an older person loses his or her ability to live independently. Due to ongoing obesity pandemic and growing elderly population, metabolic and frailty syndromes are major emerging concerns in healthcare system. Recent studies show that resistance training has remarkable beneficial effects on the musculoskeletal system including prevention and treatment of these syndromes. Resistance training has favourable effect on metabolic syndrome since it decreases fat mass including abdominal fat. It also enhances insulin sensitivity, improves glucose tolerance, and reduces blood pressure values. The combination of sarcopenia and osteoporosis is often seen in the frailty syndrome. Resistance training is probably the most effective measure to prevent and treat sarcopenia. In addition, many studies show that resistance training can maintain or even increase bone mineral density. Optimal nutrition enhances the anabolic effect of resistance training. Resistance training should be a central component of public health promotion programs along with an aerobic exercise.

Swiss Ball Dumbbell Incline Press

Motivating the Unmotivated

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, then chances are you’re already convinced about the health-benefits of regular strength training. Accordingly, you probably wish that your loved-ones regularly participated in resistance training. If you’re like me, then you want the people you love to be fit, happy, mobile, stable, strong, powerful, active, energetic, muscular, lean, confident and healthy. You don’t want them become frail, you don’t want their posture and mobility to diminish, and you don’t want their brain function to diminish as they age.

I created this simple program as a way to entice my family members and friends who aren’t quite as gung-ho about strength training as a typical gym-goer to participate in a regular strength training program. Many of my loved-ones enjoyed training with me when I had my facility but now that I no longer own a facility they don’t enjoy training alone or at a commercial gym. I’ve found that asking someone to perform resistance training for ten minutes a day is an easy sell. Many individuals dread hour-long sessions but don’t mind a quick ten minute jolt of exercise. I’ve taught this program to four different people over the past couple of weeks and they seem to enjoy it. It is my hope that they stick with this system over the long-haul and make it a daily habit.

Why Just 5 Exercises?

You can work the entire body thoroughly with just five exercises. The goal here is to find the sweet spot between minimizing the number of exercises and maximizing results. This program contains optimal structural balance as each session will effectively work the lower body pressing musculature (mainly the quads and glutes), the lower body pulling musculature (mainly the glutes and hamstrings), the upper body pressing musculature (mainly the pecs, front delts and triceps), the upper body pulling musculature (mainly the lats, scapular retractors and biceps), and the core (mainly the erectors, abdominals and obliques).

For the lower body, each session will include a standing squatting movement (either on two legs or on one leg) as well as a standing, supine or prone hip-hinging movement (either with straight legs or bent knees). For the upper body, each session will include a pressing and pulling movement in the vertical or horizontal planes. For the core, each session will include either a dynamic or stability exercise.

Modified Inverted Row

Why Only One Set?

While multiple-set training has been shown to be more effective than single-set training, the law of diminishing returns applies. You get the most results out of the first set, with subsequent sets yielding less and less results. Performing only one set per exercise leaves you more fresh for subsequent exercises so you can perform all five exercises with high-quality output. Then there is the relationship between number of sets and compliance. Feigenbaum and Pollock (1999) noted the following:

Single set programs are less time consuming and more cost efficient, which generally translates into improved program compliance. Further, single set programs are recommended for the above-mentioned populations because they produce most of the health and fitness benefits of multiple set programs.

Remember that although most gym rats love lifting weights for an hour each session, not everyone is this enthusiastic about training. A ten-minute session per day is quite appealing to many individuals which will increase the likelihood that these folks incorporate the sessions into their daily routines and make strength training a habit.

What Rep-Range?

Since there won’t be any dynamic warm-up to the routine, sets of higher repetition ranges are advised. Most of the time, 10-20 repetitions should be performed. Of course, there are plenty of times where exceptions can be made. For example, for a beginner or intermediate, single repetitions of chin ups (or negative chin ups for that matter) can be performed. In the case of chin ups it may be wise to perform a “cluster” set where the exerciser performs 3 singles each separated by 30 seconds of rest. Conversely, a high repetition set of bodyweight squats, reverse hypers or hip thrusts is perfectly fine as well. These can be performed for 30+ reps.

What Equipment is Needed?

Many individuals will tell you that all you need to receive a great full body workout is the human body. I would agree but it takes some serious creativity as well as some basic levels of strength. You can start off with just bodyweight exercises. However, exercise tools allow individuals to receive much better workouts so it’s important to have access to these tools in order to allow for more productive sessions. Here is a chart that includes a list of basic equipment that I believe people who wish to train out of their own homes should own:

If you think that this equipment requires too much money in spending, think about how expensive health care costs are. It is not necessary to purchase this equipment all at once. These purchases can be made over the course of a few years. Start off with some dumbbells and a Swiss ball, then purchase an iron gym and jungle gym, then some kettlebells, sandbags and JC bands, and eventually a barbell set, adjustable bench, aerobics steps and squat stands. You will have this equipment for life so don’t sweat paying a couple thousand dollars on your health and fitness as it will pay off in avoiding gym membership fees, time saved in transit driving back and forth from the gym and of course avoiding future doctor’s visits and hospitalization.

Which Exercises?

  1. Pick a Lower Body Pressbodyweight squat, box squat, goblet squat, Bulgarian split squat, step up, Zercher squat, front squat, back squat, single leg box squat
  2. Pick a Lower Body Pull – single leg RDL, glute bridge, deadlift, sumo deadlift, good morning, back extension, reverse hyper, hip thrust, single leg hip thrust
  3. Pick an Upper Body Press – knee push up, push up, db bench press, db incline press, db military press, floor press, bench press, incline press, close grip bench
  4. Pick an Upper Body Pullchin up, pull up, neutral grip pull up, inverted row, one arm row, db bent over row, db chest supported row, barbell bent over row
  5. Pick a Core Exercise – crunch, side crunch, lying leg raise, front plank, side plank, sit up, hanging leg raise, landmine, band Pallof press

There are plenty of other good exercises but notice that these are big exercises that either work multiple joints or large amounts of muscle.

Feet Elevated Side Plank

What are Some Example Sessions?

Example One  (Beginner) – bodyweight box squat, bodyweight glute bridge, dumbbell bench press, one arm row, front plank

Example Two (Beginner) – bodyweight step up, bodyweight single leg RDL, knee push up, negative chin up, side plank

Example Three (Intermediate) – goblet squat, kettlebell swing, dumbbell incline press, chest supported row, sit up

Example Four (Intermediate) – bodyweight reverse lunge, deadlift, push up, inverted row, Pallof press

Example Five (Advanced) – barbell front squat, good morning, military press, neutral grip pull up, landmine

Example Six (Advanced) – dumbbell deficit Bulgarian split squat, barbell hip thrust, close grip bench press, barbell bent over row, hanging leg raise

How Often?

Do this routine every day. Sure there might be some days where you can’t squeeze in a workout but at the very least you should easily be able to fit this into your schedule 5 days/week. It’s just ten minutes of exercise!

Barbell Hip Thrust

What Else Should Folks Do?

Five days per week go on a walk, a hike, a bike ride, a jog, a swim, etc. Some days just do light/moderate activity, some days go at a more vigorous pace, and some days do high-intensity intervals. Vary between 20 minutes and an hour depending on your mood and desired level of exertion.


Hopefully this article will help convince skeptical individuals about the importance of strength training and sway those who are on the fence to embark on a training regimen. Initially, beginners can simply perform bodyweight exercises such as squats, low step ups, glute bridges, knee push ups and front planks over and over until they feel natural. As time ensues, beginners will progress in range of motion, number of repetitions, amount of resistance and quality of repetitions. Intermediates can mix it up and perform more challenging variations, and advanced lifters can keep adding load or start performing two sets of each exercise. The point is that strength training sessions do not need to last an hour per day. Ten minute sessions done consistently are a thousand times better than doing nothing at all. And the less time spent lifting weights, the more time available for outdoor activities which many people find more fun and rewarding (not to mention good for vitamin D if the sun is out). Decide today to make strength training a daily habit and ten years from now you’ll look back on it as one of the smartest decisions you ever made.


  • Marianne says:

    Excellent article Bret! I really feel strongly (lol) about this topic, especially as I see EVERY day in work how people do themselves no favours by never even safe-guarding their basic function and strength levels.

    In Cardiac surgery (where I work) the Surgeons are operating on sicker and older patients for elective surgery and taking risks with people who already display signs of other chronic medical conditions, never mind their crap baseline muscle strength. Post-Op, these patients are at high risk of complications. Then, for some reason, nobody bothers to get them moving properly!

    Movement is the key to good post-op recovery, yet this element is neglected both pre-op and immediately post-op. It is only after their LONGER recovery that patients hounded to get moving! Yet, if they started before hand, at the pre-assessment stage, they would not suffer from half the set-backs!

    Sorry for going on about this. But I had this exact conversation last night. I was so shocked at how crap patients are at moving and doing simple tasks, and how much more reliant they are on nurses to help them stand, lift a cup of water, even just being able to be stable in a seated position!! It’s crazy how quickly their basic co-ordination, stability and strength disappears!

    If only these people had done just a little of what is outlined here – even for the 6 months prior to surgery!

    What always amazes me even more is how little understanding the medical professionals have about the importance of muscle.

    I have all my long-term “bed-bound” patients doing glute bridges in bed!! So at least they have some strength and stability when they learn to stand again.

    I will be forwarding this for sure!

    Cheers 🙂

  • Pio Solon says:

    Hi Marianne,

    Just had to comment, if your patients did this for 6 mos prior to surgery then they’d realize that they wouldn’t need surgery at all given all the functional anatomical adaptations should taken place. In a third world country where I’m from, it’s sad that surgeons would want to operate on injuries that really just need some strengthening or weight-loss information. I guess it profits doctors more to operate than to refer to an actual fitness professional.



    • Marianne says:

      Hi Pio,

      I do think it is sad that some Doctors would rather profit from surgery.

      In response to your comment about 6 months allowing patients to realise they wouldn’t need cardiac surgery, this is NOT accurate.

      While the risk of Coronary Artery Disease, and Stenosis of the Valves can be reduced from exercise (and other factors), it cannot prevent it. Bipass and Valve replacements would still be required at some point, due to other risk factors and simply because people are living longer. In addition, there are many congenital heart defects that are being corrected in adulthood and even these people should be performing this type of “one set of these 5 exercises” each day to help their post op recovery.

      If my patients did this 6 months prior to their surgery, it would not undo their cardiac problem, but it would make their body more able to cope with the ventilator, bypass machine, a sternotomy +/- a leg wound. It would help their lung capacity, blood sugar control, general strength, mental focus and ability to take ownership of their recovery (as they often fall into a “sick person role” in hospital and expect more to be done for them because they are “sick”, when they should be able to do more). Never mind their ability to get up and move about afterwards – reducing the risk of clots, infection and pressure damage – the list is endless!

      What annoys me the most is the doctors’ attitude towards exercise as a way of reducing risk – they don’t seem to get it ( maybe because most of them are unfit and out of shape as well). Plus, it can’t look too good when these doctors have patients who keep getting post-op complications, so I think there is a certain level of ignorance on their part to the real benefit of fitness.

      When we do get the odd patient who is very fit and otherwise healthy, but unfortunately has genetic disposition to Coronary Artery Disease, they recovery very quickly and are usually discharged early and require less pain relief as well.

      • Marianne – thank you for clarifying Pio’s comment regarding not needing surgery if someone exercised. I wish it was that simple. In my other life (before becoming a trainer), I worked as a nurse in the O.R./Open Heart surgical team. As you mentioned, exercise would certainly benefit an individual prior to surgery, but in no way would it replace the need for surgical intervention in some individuals.

        As you mention, it is unfortunate that doctors don’t “prescribe” exercise more often. Even here in Canada, where there is no “medicine for profit”, exercise is still not something most doctors encourage their patients to do. Usually it’s just a token comment with no real direction.


        • Bret says:

          Enjoyed the dialogue folks! Thanks for commenting. I’ve been looking into the science of “epigenetics” as opposed to “genetics” and find it fascinating…and I wonder how much it applies to health and fitness and whether it can eliminate genetic “curses” if certain gene products are activated for years while others are not. Sure I’m being vague but I haven’t delved too far into it. – BC

  • Dush says:

    Nice post but I think you’re overestimating what you need as far as equipment goes and there’s much cheaper alternatives out there.

    I’m in the UK which is generally more expensive but I got:

    A tool less chin bar for £10 off ebay.
    Squat stands for £50

    Barbell for £34 (7.5kg one)

    Barbell Pad for £6

    Plates work out as £1 per kg.

    Adjustable dumbells including 20kg of weights for £30.+6

    Push up stands for £5

    Backpack for £5

    That’s £130 then you slowly buy 10kg plates for £10 as you get stronger. You can use the sofa for hip thrusts and I don’t bother with a bench as weighted pushups are a much better exercise IMO.

    Oh and you can even add a cheap row bike (airdyne clone) for £110.

  • Dush says:

    Oh and another one, make your own sandbags!

    800kg of sand costs £40.

  • Thank you. As far as I can tell, the only study comparing multiple to single sets (where multiple was shown to be significantly more effective) that has any substance was Berger in 1962. The rest is a convoluted maze of cross referencing bro-science by authors like Kraemer. And even Berger only showed a 2-3% difference. If you want to get the most bang for your buck and be efficient, 1 good effort set is sufficient.

    • Bret says:

      Chris – I’ve seen some good studies come out over the past year and they always seem to point toward multiple sets. For example here’s one by Krieger – a very smart guy.
      However, I have my own theories about HIT training which I’d like to test out one day…I believe it’s very valuable and can lead to better total increases in strength in ten exercises than HVT can, just not one single exercise (if that makes any sense).

  • That is a pretty exhaustive equipment list. I agree health care is way more, but I also think people can get by with much less. For instance, drop the dumbbells and just use kettlebells. Drop the bench and just use floor presses and overhead presses via the kettlebells. There’s ways to make that list must cheaper, but what surprises me the most is that you listed basically anything your average joe could want, and it’s only $2000 some dollars. That’s cheap considering most of the stuff will last a lifetime. And considering gym memberships may be $30-40 a month, it will pay for itself in two years.

    • Bret says:

      My thoughts exactly Anthony. Only $2,000 for all that stuff. You could certainly make do with only a few of them, but over time you may get bored and want more stuff (this is what happened to me and eventually I had enough to open up an entire studio).

  • Great article Bret! Goes to show that there is no excuse for not including some strength training in your exercise routine. Much can be accomplished with 1 hard set. Most body weight exercises require some fairly high reps, but it has been shown that sets with as few as 5 reps involving full body exercises prove very beneficial for developing strength. Pavel Tsatsouline has preached for some time about performing only 2 sets using a few full body exercises with only 1 set being a heavy set. Another key factor backing his training is that it is easier to focus on perfect form when only 5 reps are performed and excellent gains can be made.

  • Joe E O says:

    Really Brilliant Bret…Good advice for all us overweight
    middle-aged guys….


    Joe E O

  • Neal W. says:

    This is also a great reminder for those of us who do like to 1 hour sessions 3-4 days per week, but can no longer find the time to devout an hour out of the day (kids + bad work schedule, ect). You can just break your workout into smaller chunks and do it more often.

  • Torsten says:

    Great article!

    I wanted to mention three more excellent and cheap tools for the home gym:
    1. A T-handle for swings. See this video:
    The advantage of this tool as compared to kettlebells is that it can be loaded incrementally. Also, it can be loaded much heavier than kettlebells.
    2. Ab wheels for rollouts – this is obviously a great tool for the development of core strength.
    3. A chest expander – I really like this tool because of its versatility. It is light and not very large so it can be used while traveling. In addition, most chest expanders likely provide more than enough resistance than beginners or intermediates will need.

  • Eric B says:

    Good read, it is nice to see you break down the basic benefits of resistance training, considering most blogs are focused much more so on hypertrophy and maximum strength.
    With your studies at Aukland do cover a more health based program with ACSM as your primary organization?
    Also, have you met Dr. Lance Dallek in Aukland?

    • Bret says:

      Hey Eric, I am not more health-based, I actually sat down and went through most of that stuff yesterday (I’m more interested in strength and hypertrophy but that doesn’t mean this old bloke can’t read up on health). As I advance in my learning I want to educate myself on everything which is actually a curse. I love the ACSM but I’m an NSCA guy primarily. Haven’t met Dr. Dallek yet, what does he do? – BC

  • Matt says:

    I love your reasoning for single sets – compliance is huge! I bet most people would automatically start to increase the number of sets on their own once they start to see progress on the exercise.

    Keep up the good work!

    • Bret says:

      My thoughts exactly – once folks start seeing results and getting compliments all of a sudden their will to train hard sky-rockets.

  • Dale says:

    Bret –

    Sorry if I missed it, but are you recommending the same routine, five days a week, same exercises every time ? Then perhaps changes exercises after a number of weeks ?

    • Bret says:

      Dale – no…just pick one exercise from each of the 5 categories each day. One day you might pick goblet squats, the next day step ups, the next day Bulgarian split squats. One day might be single leg RDL’s, the next day single leg glute bridges and the next day deadlifts.Then you do the same for upper push, upper pull and core. You won’t get very sore from doing one set and the variety prevents pattern overload, so very doable. – BC

      • Dale says:

        Gotcha, makes perfect sense. I must confess that I’ve battered my shoulders and knees with predominantly low reps. This might prove to be a refreshing change!

  • Ivan says:

    Timely article – my girlfriend is getting back into training after giving birth to our son. Obviously, there’s less free time than before, so this routine and a kettlebell sounds just right.

    One question, though: How close to failure should the single sets be taken? Far from failure; a couple of reps left in the tank, or just AMRAP?

  • Dale says:

    Bret –

    Sorry, quick-followup: would you recommend random, instinctive rotation of exercises or would you lean towards something closer to a preestablished A,B,C,D and E workout, to cover the five days, repeating each week ?

    Thanks again!

  • Bret,

    GREAT post! This kind of post is even more important than the typical posts we make… “the benefits of adding chains,” or “how to add 15 pounds to your bench press,” etc.

    Awesome job!


  • Marc says:

    This is a great article Bret!

    You mentioned that advanced lifters could do two sets. If doing two sets, should we still exercise 5 times per week?

    Also, how close to failure should we go? I could ten reps to failure on a dead lift wiping someone out.

    Thanks again,


  • Moss says:

    nice article!
    my only caveat would be regarding your list of “basic equipment”:

    1)the only essential equipment you need are: barbell, plates, power rack and exercise floor mat.
    2)good-to-have but not-essential items would be such things as a roman chair, flat bench, slant board, weighted vest, dipping belt.
    3)equipment you don’t really ever need are kettlebells, sandbags, trx, gymanstic rings, bands, cables, swiss ball, bosu ball, trap bars.


  • Dale says:

    I shelled out about $100 for a barbell and over 300 lbs. of plates, a pair of adjustable dumbbells and an Iron Gym doorway pullup apparatus and a stability ball.

  • Scott Rawcliffe says:

    Dude you read research like normal people read the daily paper! Thanks for all the knowledge bombs you drop on us every month!!! Love it!!

  • Blake says:

    This article deserves as much exposure as possible. The program seems like the best of exercise (health benefits) minus the worst (ever notice that virtually all iron gurus are the walking wounded).

    Thanks, Bret, for the guidance. My only request is that you change the picture in the upper right corner of your home page (there must be better poses out there).

  • nell says:

    It’s surprisingly hard to find workouts that are both optimally effective and psychologically realistic for the non-fitness enthusiast. Most are too challenging or not enough, or appeal to aspiration, which is quickly exhausted without hardcore motivation or good habits. Lovely of you to fill the gap. Passing it on to my moms. Thanks!

  • Deb says:

    Hey Bret,
    Awesome blog. I work in mental health and have recently qualified as a PT. I work with people who lack the motivation to do much movement at all but 10mins a day is definitely an easier sell. I agree that I have family, friends, colleagues and clients who admittedly don’t see the appeal of an hour lifting in the gym but this is great way for them to get the taste of health and strength. Thanks!

  • marc says:


  • Stephanie says:

    I don’t know whether you’ll even see this comment to such an old article, but I figured it can’t hurt to try. This article is already nearly perfect for me to show to some family members that really need direction, but it would be even better if the list of exercises were divided in to difficulty levels. Would you ever consider creating an update to this article (or just editing this one)? A clear explanation of which exercises should be started with bodyweight might also be helpful for some people. A few changes would make this article so much more easy to understand for rank beginners.

  • Jason says:

    People who don’t want to spend a lot of time in the gym will love this…great for beginners as you said Bret, but I hope the advanced trainer doesn’t dismiss this protocol because of how simple it is, this is actually how I train now just by figuring it out on my own. Last year I was dumbell floor pressing, did 110’s for 3, wasn’t feeling well so I left the gym and figured I’d go back the next day and finish my sets, got 4 the next day, thought hmm, added another rep with a higher frequency and a single set, decided to try it again the next day, got 5… 6 the next day, then 7…then hit a wall for a few days since gains won’t always be linear but you have to accept that…I take the odd day off when I feel I need it, but I believe this is the best program out there by far.

  • Ondrej says:

    this could be great for my father. We have the frequency of every day, 5 basic exercises, rep range of 12-20, one set, what should be the intensity though? Or “Rate of Percieved Exertion”? And how to progress, is there a need to write it down?
    Thanks for answer.
    What would you recommend to ensure compliance of my father? (51 year old, 120 kg) This training, or HIT to failure once or twice a week? On one side, the regularity is great, and the fact it won’t be as intense is great as well, but once a week draining lesson could work as well. on the frequent training, he would probably learn the form better though.
    Thanks for answer.

    • Mark says:

      I’m not a physiologist, just a 55 yr. old semi washed up meathead. I can definitely tell you that in my experience frequency is king. It tops volume and intensity. Once or twice a week “nut to butt” routines have their audience, but they leave this old bastard desperately in search of himself the rest of the week. Frequent low volume keeps this stone rolling and moss free. Furthermore, in your 50s it isn’t about being “jacked” anymore, it is about maintaining what you spent years building, and being healthy. I get joked with frequently when I walk with 25 lb. dumbbells, my reply is usually ” enjoy your youth son, it doesn’t last forever, you’ll see”.

  • Nath says:

    Do you think one set each day would result in more gains than 5 sets for one bodypart done once per week?

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