A Basic Strength Training Program

Anyone can use this Basic Strength Program to get started building strength and muscle mass.  This program is based on the latest research on resistance training for strength and hypertrophy.  

It is designed for use during the first 3-6 months of training for people who either have no experience with strength training at all, or who are unfamiliar with brief, high intensity training.

After the first 3-6 months of training, you will make better progress with a customized program that tailors exercise selection and training volume and frequency to your unique muscle fiber type distribution and recovery ability.  

Minimal Equipment Required

To start implementing all of the exercises I recommend in the Gaining Strength program you will need the following equipment:

  1. A chin up bar (such as the CAP power rack) or other overhead bar or way to hang rings or suspension trainer.
  2. A set of Bodylastics bands.  
  3. A band training platform, such as my economical DIY homemade platform.
  4. A homemade calf block.
  5. A set of Serious Steel resistance bands.
  6. Optional, a tibialis trainer.
  7. Optional, a set of gymnastic rings or a suspension trainer.
  8. Optional, a set of 50-100 pounds of standard weight plates (1" hole) with dumbbell handles to add load to squats and chin ups.
  9. Optional, a Brute Belt or other quality chin up/dip/hip squat belt, which will allow you use resistance bands or plates to add resistance to chin ups
  10. A notebook in which you will record details about each training session.  I use essay books. 

The Simple Basic Strength Training Program

This is the Simple Basic Strength Program I recommend for beginners:

  1. Tuck split squat  – 1 x 10-15 each side
  2. Leg curl (use bands or suspension trainer/rings) – 1 x 10
  3. Tibialis flexion or rise on toes (alternate) – 1 x 20-30
  4. Regular chin ups  – 1 x 8-12
  5. Standing overhead press (Bodylastics bands)– 1 x 10-15
  6. Inverted rows or fulcrum 90º pull ups  – 1 x 8-12
  7. Push ups (floor, rings, or with bands) – 1 x 10-15
  8. Neck flexion or extension (alternate) – 1 x 12


Tibialis flexion:  Do bodyweight version, or make your own tibialis trainer, or buy a tibialis trainer.

You do this no more than twice weekly with 72-96 hours between.  For example, Monday and Thursday or Friday; or Tuesday and Friday or Saturday. 

Before each strength training session, do 20-30 minutes of aerobic training, such as brisk walking or running.  Also, do 20-30 minutes of high intensity aerobic training on a third day, 48 hours after and before any other strength training session.  Do mobility and flexibility training on days following strength training sessions and after your third weekly aerobic training session.  For example:

Monday:  Aerobic and strength training

Tuesday:  Mobility and flexibility training

Wednesday: High intensity aerobic training (e.g. intervals)

Thursday:  Mobility and flexibility training

Friday: Aerobic and strength training

Saturday: Mobility and flexibility training

Sunday:  Off, or mobility and flexibility with recreational activity (walking, hiking, etc.)

But what about arm work?

Multiple studies have shown that adding direct exercises for biceps and triceps to any routine that includes a multi-joint vertical pull – i.e. chin up or pulldown – and a multi-joint pressing motion (dips, chest press, shoulder press) on average produces no greater strength or size of arm muscles.

If you want big arms, focus on getting really strong in chin ups, dips or chest press, rows and overhead presses.  These exercises provide all the work your arms need to grow.  

However, if you really feel the need to add direct arm work, I suggest adding a set of bicep curls to the end of routine A, and a set of tricep extensions to the end of routine B.

Warm ups

Here is the general warm up I recommend:

  1. Neck extension/flexion x 10-15
  2. Neck lateral flexion x 10-15
  3. Neck rotation x 10-15
  4. Small arm circles forward x 30
  5. Small arm circles backwards x 30
  6. Waist rotation with Liver/Kidney taps x 20
  7. Hip rotation x 10-15 each direction
  8. Bodyweight squats x 20

When using proper exercise execution with submaximal loads permitting at least 6 repetitions, the specific warm up is built into the work set during the first one-third to one-half of the set when you move a bit more slowly than is actually possible at that point, as described in earlier. Moreover, research has shown that on average specific warm ups have practically no benefit when you are training with submaximal loads allowing 6-20 repetitions.

Nevertheless, if after a general warm up you still do not feel mentally and physically prepared for your first work set, include a specific warm up for the first exercise as follows:

  1. Use 50% of the working load for the target number of  repetitions for the work set of the exercise.
  2. If still not warm enough, increase the load to ~75% of the working load and do half the target number of repetitions for the work set of the exercise.
  3. Rest 1-3 minutes during which you increase the load to the the work set level.
  4. Perform the work set.  

After performing the first work set you should be quite warm and probably will have no need to perform further warm ups for that session. 

Effort level: AMRAP

Do as many reps as possible up to the goal number of repetitions on each set.  You stop when you know that you will not be able to  complete the next repetition in good form. While doing this simplified program you want to learn how to train to concentric muscular failure.  Training to muscular failure reduces your time investment.  For example, one study found no significant difference in strength gains between a training time of 7 minutes consisting of several sets to failure per exercise and 25 minutes of sets not to failure, so by training to failure or performing as many reps as possible you can reduce your training time by approximately 70% [study].

Basic Simple Strength Training!

This simple strength training program includes all the best exercises for each major muscle group and is all you need to get started. 

After the first 3-6 months of training, once you have learned how to train hard with a single set per exercise, you will make better progress with a customized program that tailors training volume and frequency to your unique muscle fiber type distribution and recovery ability.  

If you want to get the most you can from high intensity strength training consider my online coaching program.  Learn more about the program here

Recent Articles

  1. Vegan Macrobiotic Diet For Psoriasis

    Sep 05, 23 06:36 PM

    Powered by Plants Table 12.4 high protein plant based diet
    Vegan macrobiotic diet for psoriasis. My progress healing psoriasis with a vegan macrobiotic diet.

    Read More

  2. How Every Disease Develops

    Aug 04, 23 06:22 PM

    Definition of "excess"
    How every disease develops over time, according to macrobiotic medicine.

    Read More

  3. Why Do People Quit Being Vegan?

    Jun 28, 23 08:04 PM

    Peer pressure causes vegans to quit Morpheus meme
    Why do people quit being vegan? How peer pressure and ego conspire against vegans.

    Read More

  4. Powered By Plants

    Mar 16, 23 08:01 PM

    Powered by Plants Best Cover
    Powered By Plants is a book in which I have presented a lot of scientific evidence that humans are designed by Nature for a whole foods plant-based diet.

    Read More

  5. Carnism Versus Libertarianism

    Dec 30, 22 01:55 PM

    Goats in pen
    Carnism Versus Libertarianism is an e-book demonstrating that carnism is in principle incompatible with libertarianism, voluntaryism, and anarchism.

    Read More

  6. The Most Dangerous Superstition Book Review

    Nov 15, 22 08:46 PM

    Statism the brilliant idea....
    Review of the book The Most Dangerous Superstition by Larken Rose.

    Read More

  7. Plant-Based Diet Is Best For Health Protection: Meta-Review

    Oct 17, 22 11:22 AM

    Garden of Eating Cover
    A plant-based diet is best for health promotion according to a meta-review of more than 300 reviews published 1950-2013.

    Read More

  8. How I Fixed Foot Swelling (Lower Limb Edema)

    Sep 29, 22 02:07 PM

    Foot Swelling photo 1
    How I fixed foot swelling (lower limb edema) with a lactovegetarian whole foods plant-based diet.

    Read More