Creating a Simple Strength Training Routine – Even for Beginners

creating a simple strength training plan
Start now, so you can keep doing it then… Photo Credit: joymweinbergeditor via Compfight cc

There are two reasons why people say they don’t have do strength training:

  1. They don’t have time.
  2. They don’t have the equipment.

Let me translate those two things:

  1. I have other priorities and strength training is not something I’m happy about, so the other priorities win out.
  2. If I don’t have a gym membership or a workout bench and dumbbells, then there’s no possible way I can get a quality strength training session in, so I best just avoid it altogether.

We all know how similar ‘reasons’ and ‘excuses’ are.

Lest you think I’m being high on my horse, guess again.

I’ve worked out in the strength kind of way one time in the last two or three months.

I keep putting ‘strength training – 3 days a week’ as a thing I want to do.

But alas, I don’t.

Frankly… I ain’t got any better excuses than the lot of you out there. I’ve just been prioritizing it even though I know that as I get older my strength is absolutely key to my maintaining other healthy habits.

Those who are doing it on the regular: kudos and props to you! I should have asked one of you to write this post.

My goal with this post is to demystify strength training and encourage you to find a solution that works for you.

Busting the Strength Training Myths

There are myths about strength training that still exist. Let’s make short work of them so we can move on to where I send you to other people to find a simple strength training program that will work for you (remember… simple, not necessarily easy, because you must push yourself on some level).

Myth #1: Strength training will make me look too muscular.

This is a myth (excuse) women often use. Let’s just go ahead and squash it. If you do basic workouts you’ll never get overly ripped. If you start getting ripped, it’s because you were trying to get ripped, which is okay and good as far as I’m concerned.

Myth #2: Strength training isn’t helpful for weight loss.

Core and overall body strength actually  help you have the energy and strength to better engage your cardio. In addition, building and strengthening muscle uses your body’s energy stores and food supply. When your body uses energy stores, you burn calories. Burning calories helps folks lose weight. It’s true.

Myth #3 Strength training takes too much time.

It can. But you can also do the Herschel Walker plan and bust out situps and pushups and body weight squats in your living room in a 20 minute circuit and start seeing results. Even in the weight room, you can get a powerful workout in a 20-40 minute time period. If you have a hard time right now figuring out where you have time, scan the terrain of your schedule. You might find a spare few minutes somewhere. Maybe. Start at 5 minutes if you have to.

Myth #4: Strength training requires equipment.

The excuse, alas, is also a myth. See also Myth #3. Your body is equipment enough.

Myth #5: Strength training is confusing.

I might give you this one. If you’ve never had a plan, it’s difficult to sit down and decide what to do. You might even desperately want to start a plan, but just don’t know what to do. In the end, you’ll find it can be quite simple, as touched on in Myth #3 and the pushups, situps, and body weight squat routine. That said, I’ll send you to some folks who can help in a moment.

Now that I’ve destroyed all the excuses and myths (right?), let’s talk about how to find or create a simple strength training plan.

Creating Your Simple Strength Training Plan

As with nutrition and cardio, I encourage you to follow our five principles:

  1. Keep it simple
  2. Have fun
  3. Be intentional
  4. Make it sustainable
  5. Be intuitive

Here’s how I would suggest you create your plan. You’ll wonder why you even read this post when you see what follows.

Step 1: Google ‘Simple bodyweight strength training plan’

Revolutionary first step, isn’t it? If you’re so inclined, get on Pinterest and search the same terms. You’ll likely get dozens of results with a variety of plans.

Step 2: Review the plans

Give them your sniff test. If you see too many references to strange exercises like “Reverse Hammer Downward Dog Bent Squat Curl Jams” (I exaggerate for emphasis), then move along. You can work up to the fancy schmancy exercises.

I’m assuming, of course, you’re a beginner. If not, then do what you do.

I’d pick a plan from a site that seems reliable and friendly to newbies.

Step 3: Pick one

Yes. Pick a simple one.

I’d pick one with maybe 3-8 exercises for your first try. I’d pick one with some pictures or videos so you use proper form.

Step 4: Schedule it

Remember the whole “be intentional” thing?  Scheduling is what makes something intentional.

Step 5: Put your clothes out and have your playlist ready

Make it easier and simpler for you to do the plan by having all the ‘equipment’ handy, i.e. a pair of shorts or sweats and a t-shirt you don’t mind mangling with your newly found perspiration.

And have your phone or iPod with ear buds ready. Keep it fun!

Step 6: Do it!

Blast those abs, thighs, glutes, chest, and shoulders!

Need a Plan?

Here are a few plans I drummed up after a simple search. Please remember to check with your medical professional before starting any physical fitness program. I’m an insurance man. Not a doctor.

Basic Home Workout –

This website owner, Mikey, reached out and shared this workout. It checks the boxes of what a good, basic home workout should be. It’s both simple yet can be progressively more challenging if you put in the effort or make some small variations as you learn. From the site: “Following the popular maxim Start now get better perfect later, Basic Home Workout is a perfect starting point for many. Home workouts are proving to be a great alternative to gym subscription for those wanting to stay healthy, fit and happy.”

Beginner Body Weight Workout: Burn Fat, Build Muscle –

Steve Kamb lays info out in an entertaining and digestible fashion for folks who aren’t particularly used to intense training. Honestly, I’d start with this one. His post is the most user friendly.

From Zero to Hero: Beginner Bodyweight Workout Plan –

This beginner plan gives you four simple exercises, although the site owner Silvio offers up some variations. He also offers up coaching to newbies who need to get themselves started.

Bodyweight Strength Training: A Beginner’s Guide –

Jay Waldron holds the beginner’s hand – answering the question ‘What is Strength Training?’ through goal setting to the elements of a routine to an actual suggested plan.

Not impressed with those? Click here for a link to my search to find other options.

Final Thoughts

I’ll admit that strength training gurus suffer from the curse of knowledge: They can forget what it’s like to be a clueless beginner and use terms and refer to exercises that are more intermediate than beginner. You might have to do some digging to find one that suits you. But it’ll be worth the try.

Do you have any simple strength training resources I should know about?

If you happen to find this and have a suggested site or post, please put it in the comments. I can update this list as we go.


Here are the other elements of creating an overall Simple Health Plan:

Click here for a discussion on creating a simple nutrition plan. (You can also bypass my post and just click over to Whole 30. It is my humble opinion that a 90% adherence to that plan would be helpful for 90% of us – even if you never do a 30 day challenge. Keep to the outside of the grocery store, as they say.)

Click here for a discussion on creating a simple cardio plan.

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