A Simple Workout to Get You Started

A Simple Workout to Get You Started

Aug 21, 2013

Resistance training is probably one of the best habits one can pick up. Its positive effects are too numerous to mention here, but rest assured that the development of a strong and healthy body is beneficial to your life in just about every aspect that matters.

The training itself is quite simple. You load up a barbell with weights and you move it up and down with your body. The hardest part, in my opinion, is overcoming resistance not to gravity, but to the act of integrating resistance training into your life. People often put up various mental blocks that keep them from getting into a fitness grove. For some, learning a wide array of unfamiliar movements is a daunting and unappealing task. For others, the thought of allocating an hour and a half (plus transit and shower time) to working out just doesn’t seem practical.

What I am about to propose to you is a dead-simple, minimalist routine that can be completed in less than 45 minutes, 30 if you hustle.

The Workout:

Deadlift: 3 sets of 5 repetitions

Standing Overhead Press: 3 sets of 5 repetitions

  • Perform this routine 3 days per week on non-consecutive days (e.g., Monday-Wednesday-Friday)
  • Start off with a weight you can comfortably do 1 set of 10 repetitions with.
  • Focus on perfect form. It’s okay if your form isn’t perfect (spoiler: it never will be) but perfection should be your aim.
  • Rest between sets as long as you feel you need to complete the next set of repetitions.
  • Add 5 lbs to your lifts after each successfully completed session.


The Reasoning:

The deadlift and the overhead press are approximations of two fundamental movements: picking something up off the ground and pushing something up over your head. Together, they will give you great functional strength and work just about every major muscle group from head to toe.  If you were to apply Pareto’s law to the weight lifting, this author believes that these two lifts are all that would remain.

There is no need for extraneous ab work. Your core will be worked plenty by simply keeping your torso rigid while executing these lifts. Some of you may be concerned that your chest will be neglected because of the lack of bench pressing. Not to worry, your chest will be worked plenty from supporting your shoulders during the overhead press.

This workout requires very little equipment besides a barbell and weights. It also does not require a spotter once you have a grasp of the technique.  You will not have to waste time waiting for people to vacate various workout stations, meaning you will be in and out of the gym quickly. If you have a couple hundred bucks and some space in your home, you could purchase a barbell, some weights, and rubber matting, thus eliminating the need for membership fees and transit time.


The Caveats:

This is not the fastest means to get big or strong, although the untrained will definitely make significant gains in strength and size if they keep at it. If you have no problems sticking to a plan and no qualms about spending time in the weight room, get on Starting Strength or StrongLifts. The idea of this workout is to get you off your ass and develop the habit of consistently working out by reducing the amount of reasons not to.

It is best to learn these lifts from a qualified instructor, but if one is not available, the internet is your friend.

If you lack the mobility to properly execute these lifts, work on that first. It makes no sense to pack on muscle at the expense of your joints and ligaments.



  • Focus on quality of reps, not weight. 5 reps of a light weight with great form are much, much better for your health in the long run than the ego boost you’ll get by doing 3 good reps plus 2 ugly reps of a heavier weight. If you feel like you can’t hit your next rep with perfect form, put the weight down and rest up for your next set/session.
  • If you are unsure of your form, take a video recording of yourself and post it at an appropriate forum for fitness discussion, e.g., the fitness subreddit.
  • After you’ve established the habit of working out, feel free to add squats, bench presses, power cleans, and other fun barbell lifts to your routine, or just start following the aforementioned Starting Strength or StrongLifts programs.
  • Remember: proper diet and sleep are also necessary.



Deadlift technique:

Overhead press technique:

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RedSunBlue is an active member of /r/theredpill currently based in Tokyo, Japan. He often posts musings about life as a single man in Asia at his personal blog, amaninasia.wordpress.com

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  1. gcalli /

    Add chin ups and you’re good to go! (start with jumping negatives if you can’t do one yet)

  2. ericmittens /

    Yea…I do not doubt the good intentions of this article, but I think there are several fundamental flaws with this workout.
    1) Most people cannot conventionally deadlift properly. They lack the shoulder and hip mobility to maintain neutral spinal alignment during the movement. It is asking for injury/lower back pain.
    2) Having someone do overhead press without any rear delt isolation work, or even some basic rowing is asking for shoulder health issues and postural problems.
    3) I think most people are interested in lifting not for the sake of having a big deadlift, but for looking good both clothed and unclothed to enhance their game and general confidence level. Protocols like this, though useful for muscle building in some ways, are in NO WAY optimal for bettering one’s aesthetics. A smartly designed bodybuilding program would be more productive, safer, and more enjoyable for the average trainee visiting this blog IMO.

    • TheGoodBro /

      1.) Everyone can perform DLs just fine given they’re not obese. DLs are even used in rehabilitation programs. When done properly they’re great for strengthening your posterior chain.

      2.) Direct RC work would be much more beneficial than focusing on your rear delts.

      3.) Most bodybuilders will tell you deadlifts are the best back builder. Aside from that you will never see anyone scrawny moving serious weight with deadlifts.

  3. Jesse James /

    How are the squats a footnote in the last paragraph? They are the MOST important exercise you can do anywhere. It works the entire body and it serves as a great warm up exercise for everything else.

    Also, I have a bit of a problem with deadlifts being 3 sets of 5. Deadlifts are a tough exercise, one set of 5 as your work set (after warming up) is hard enough. You are risking burnout if you are doing 3 sets, and it’s very likely you will plateau early on in your training.

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