The Less Thinking, More Doing Starter Program

It’s easy to get overly-heady about exercise. Being a strength/fitness nerd, it’s not only easy for me, it’s fun. For those new to this world, though, I suspect it can be a little overwhelming.

After all, you might just want some simple advice on getting started. If so, this article is for you. This program starts you off with a few basic movements that are guaranteed to increase your overall strength and fitness if you’re a beginner.

Of course, this is just a start. You are encouraged to look around this site, take in all the information and even e-mail questions to Krista or myself. You’re definitely encouraged to learn enough to start putting things together on your own. Unless you’re an iron-pumping savant, however, this will take more than an afternoon.

And you want to get going now! Good. So while you’re learning, may I present a starter program.

Here’s what you’re going to do:


Move around. Step deep, reach high and breathe deep. Pay attention to where movement feels restricted by tight muscles and gently (gently!) move through that range of motion. Now start moving faster. Jog, crawl, shuffle from side to side. Up the pace until it’s a challenge to keep your breathing even. This whole process should take about 10 minutes. Good? Good enough!

Exercise 1: Split squat – 10 each leg
Weight: Bodyweight

Take a lunge position, but leave your feet in place as you go up and down. The front heel stays dug in, the rear heel stays up. Get nice and long – long enough for you to feel a real stretch. Your feet should be at hip width and both pointed forward. The rear knee should almost touch the ground with each repetition. Your front hip, knee and ankle should form a straight line. Up and down on one side, then the other. If there is any joint pain, stop.

Exercise 2: Dumbbell row – 12 each side
Weight: 40 lbs. for dudes, 20 to 30 lbs. for chicks

Put one hand on a bench. You can have the same-side foot on the ground or put the shin on the same bench. Whatever. Grab a dumbbell with your other hand and pull it as far away from the floor as possible, control your descent and then repeat. Don’t rotate your torso. If there is any joint pain, stop.

Exercise 3: Dumbbell bench press – 12 each side
Weight: 30 lbs. for dudes, 15 to 20 lbs. for chicks

Lie back on a bench with your feet on the ground. Keep your shoulder blades squeezed together throughout and push those dumbbells (one in each hand) toward the ceiling. Keep your elbows within about 45 degrees of your body. Control your descent and repeat. If there is any joint pain, stop.

Exercise 4: Forearm plank – 60 seconds total
Weight: bodyweight

Lie face-down, with only your forearms and feet touching the ground. Hold just a slight pike (your ass should just be slightly higher than the rest of your body). Take very short breaks whenever you feel like your spine is trying to bear the weight (as opposed to your abs). If there is any joint pain . . . well, you know.

Now that you’ve been through all four exercises, go through them a second time. Maybe even a third.

Now get on an exercise bike and perform the following:

Go fast: 30 seconds
Go slow: 2 minutes
Repeat this four times (that’s 10 minutes tota

Towel off, go home and do some more reading. Don’t forget to tip your servers. Thank you and goodnight!

geoff_girvitz_headshotGeoff Girvitz runs Bang Fitness in Toronto, which offers personal training, group classes and combat conditioning in Toronto. Bang Fitness is, like, totally sweet. It has tires and sledgehammers and an Olympic lifting platform and a dragging sled and freakin’ Astroturf! If you are in the west end of Toronto, this is definitely the place to train.

Geoff is also one of my favourite boys in the whole world. He introduced me to the epic joy of Rottblott’s, a hardware surplus store — basically a candy store for people who love old-skool strength training toys. Thanks to Geoff I now own 20 feet of thick rope. And I’m eyeing a heavier sledgehammer…