Workout 1: Beginner, full-body

July 17th, 2008  |  Published in Workout ideas  |  22 Comments

These workouts are done either 3 times weekly, or on alternating days (1 day of workout, 1 day of rest, 1 day of workout, and so forth). You can even do these workouts only twice weekly and see some gains, say on a Monday-Thursday split. Don’t do this workout two days in a row.

Rest 1 to 2 minutes between sets (you might want a little longer between squat sets).

Notation: Exercise sets x reps
For example: bench press 3 x 8 is 3 sets of 8 reps per set

routine 1

  1. Squat or leg press 2 x 12-15
  2. Lat pulldown 2 x 12-15
  3. Standing overhead shoulder press 2 x 12-15
  4. One-arm dumbbell row 2 x 12-15
  5. Bench press 2 x 12-15
  6. Calf raise 1 x 15
  7. Ab crunches or Swiss ball crunches 2 x 12-15

routine 2: get in, get out, go home

This one is a short and sweet version of the workout above. Alternate day 1 and day 2. So, let’s say you work out Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. On the first week, you’d do day 1 on Monday and Friday, and day 2 on Wednesday. Then the second week, you’d do day 2 on Monday and Friday, and day 1 on Wednesday.

You may find it saves even more time to alternate sets labeled as A and B. For instance, you could do one set of shoulder press, then one set of lat pulldowns, then a second set of shoulder presss, and finally a second set of lat pulldowns. I’ve labeled some exercises as this OR that — pick whichever one suits you best. You can even alternate from week to week but don’t go overboard with the variety because it becomes hard to track progress.

day 1

  1. Squat or leg press 2 x 15-20
  2. A Standing overhead shoulder press 2 x 12-15
  3. B Lat pulldown 2 x 12-15
  4. Calf raise 1 x 15
  5. Back extension 2 x 12-15

day 2

  1. Sumo deadlift 2 x 15
  2. A One-arm dumbbell row OR Seated cable row 2 x 12-15
  3. B Pushups, 2 sets of as many as you can do OR Incline dumbbell bench press 2 x 12-15
  4. Calf raise 1 x 15
  5. Ab crunch 2 x 12-15


  1. Liz Hansen says:

    March 16th, 2009at 11:19 am(#)

    I’m going to try this one tonight!! Your website is fantastic! I’ve recommeded it to many friends

  2. MJ Kramer says:

    March 16th, 2009at 1:50 pm(#)

    Hi Krista,

    Love your website, but the links above don’t work. Getting an error 404 message.


  3. Mistress Krista says:

    March 17th, 2009at 4:55 am(#)

    OK, should be fixed now.

  4. Jay says:

    March 23rd, 2009at 10:05 pm(#)

    Hi Krista,

    Can you please fix the link for “back extension”…

  5. JH says:

    June 9th, 2009at 3:35 pm(#)

    Hi Krista-
    One other quick question: do you have any general guidelines for when to switch from beginner to intermediate? Is it based on the speed or amount with which you can increase weight? I worry about plateaus, so just some ballpark thoughts is all I’m looking for….

  6. Tiffany says:

    September 30th, 2009at 6:03 am(#)

    Hey another fantastic full-body workout with minimal effort is called Nordic Walking. Ordinary walking only uses the muscles in the lower half of your body, but Nordic walking makes use of your entire body from head to toe and all parts between. For an introduction, read and view the information [ ]. Yeah, the participant wearing the black hat, black jacket, black catsuit with blue stripes down the outer legs, and white sneakers is yours truly. I think I was the youngest participant at that introductory session.

  7. Julia says:

    October 9th, 2009at 11:01 am(#)

    Hi Krista,

    Thanks, this is a fantastic plan! It really helps to have something well-defined. Question: do you think it’s better to work out at night or in the morning? I’ve heard you can get more mileage at night as opposed to when you’re potentially still groggy and haven’t eaten since last night. Is this true? (Mornings would be much easier for me schedule-wise)

  8. Mistress Krista says:

    October 9th, 2009at 12:15 pm(#)

    Julia, work out when it’s best for you, when you feel most energetic (if possible), and when you’ll stick to it.

  9. TM says:

    January 31st, 2010at 4:07 pm(#)

    I’m going to start this program but I also like to do cardio (bike for an hour/20 miles). I also have volleyball practice on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays.
    I was wondering if it is counterproductive to lift and do cardio on the same day. If so, would it make sense to lift Monday/Wednesday/Friday and bike Sunday/Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday? Or would it be more beneficial to lift on practice days and do cardio Monday/Wednesday/Friday?
    I really appreciate the help!

  10. Mistress Krista says:

    February 1st, 2010at 10:38 am(#)

    Lift and do cardio on the days that work for you. If you want to alternate, great. If your schedule requires you to double up, that’s fine too. The most important things are that you do what you enjoy, and you work out regularly. :)

  11. susana says:

    May 10th, 2010at 1:31 pm(#)

    Hi Krista!

    I love your site, Im just starting to follow your website, and I’ve been doing your Routine #1 for 3 weeks now. My question is, When it’s time to move on to Routine #2? Or how do I know I need to change routine?

    Thank you for your response! :)

  12. Mistress Krista says:

    May 10th, 2010at 3:01 pm(#)

    Susana: Give it a couple of months, then switch.

  13. Kare says:

    August 11th, 2010at 2:02 pm(#)

    Hi Krista,

    Great website! Thanks for posting these. I’m planning on doing this routine. How much weights should I start lifting? and do increase the weights I lift every week? If not how often do I increase? Thanks, I appreciate your assistance.

  14. Mistress Krista says:

    August 12th, 2010at 6:31 am(#)

    Kare: Lift what you can lift with a bit of challenge, but without sacrificing good technique. Try adding a little bit of weight every week if you can. Eventually just add weight when it feels right — when the prescribed reps and sets are easy to complete.

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  18. Laura says:

    December 20th, 2011at 2:17 pm(#)

    Would it be ok to do regular push-ups instead of overhead press?
    Also, do you need to tilt your head back when raising the bar in that movement? I’ve heard that it’s something you need to do in order to ensure the bar doesn’t get to far away from your body – what are your thoughts on this?

    By the way, a thousand thanks for this great, great site!

  19. Mistress Krista says:

    December 21st, 2011at 6:13 am(#)

    @Laura: Ideally I’d like to see something overhead, but if that’s contra-indicated you could do pushups. Alternately you can try pike pushups –

    You should only move your head far enough back to get it out of the way of the bar. Don’t crank your neck into cervical hyperextension. Ideally I like to see a very slight lean back that comes from the whole body and includes squeezing the glutes (not arching the low back).

  20. Neaera says:

    March 16th, 2012at 8:25 am(#)


    Just wondering if you ladies would think it was ok to do these workouts using just dumbells? I haven’t got a barbell currently.

  21. Mistress Krista says:

    March 16th, 2012at 9:07 pm(#)

    Sure, any weight will do — barbell, dumbbell, kettlebell, dead body…

  22. Carrie says:

    March 22nd, 2012at 12:15 am(#)

    I used to be this dumpy thing that thought cardio was the answer to all of life’s problems – and then I found this website and I feel alive. Thank you, Krista. I actually enjoy the gym now, and I’m proud to be the only pair of tits in a sausage fest. This workout is working for me.


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