Four Exercises You Should Do Every Day

You don’t need to spend hours a day working out or a gym full of fancy equipment. A few minutes per day of a focused practice with just you vs gravity can take you far.

I chose the word “practice” for a reason. Practice implies a deliberate effort to improve a skill. “Workout”, on the other hand, usually means “just make yourself tired”.

Strength is a skill.

Pursue it accordingly. Train for a purpose, practice with intent, and avoid just “working out”. That means stopping or resting when form breaks down. Not dogging it through ugly reps, but instead taking a few seconds to recover. Should it feel like work? Yes, but you should still be able to hide the fact that you’re working hard.

Strength opens up possibilities, from movement, to being able to put on muscle and reduce body fat, to simply being more resilient for everyday life.

To keep things simple, limit your movements to four categories:

  • Push
  • Pull
  • Squat/lunge
  • Midsection bracing

There are variations within each category, but those are the main four movements. Three of them don’t require anything except a little room to move, so if you don’t have the option to include pulling, don’t let that stop you.

Another key to succeeding in practice is consistency.

Find a key time or cue that happens every day and connect your strength practice to it. That could be right before your morning shower or you could change into workout clothes and train right after getting home from work.

Have a space where you train. That could be the garage, the back deck, or anywhere in the house where you have space to move. Have as many cues as possible line up to tell your brain that it’s time to work out.

A few notes:

Start with variations that are challenging and as you fatigue, rest and switch down to easier versions of the movement. Plus, it’s good to have variety within each block.

One of the things we lose is the ability to move explosively and generate power. As much as possible, lead off each set with work on power. It’s important.

You know how when you’re watching a sport and they talk about so-and-so losing a step over the last couple of years? It’s so-and-so’s job to be fast. They do a lot of work to stay fast. Most of us aren’t doing anything to maintain speed and power. So-and-so is younger than most of my readers. Do the math.

It will be awkward and you might feel old and uncoordinated. Dial things back until you find which variations you can do well. Embrace the suck and include power work. Keep the reps low (3 – 5) and allow for a little more rest between sets.

Let’s talk about form.

Keep your muscles working the entire time you’re moving. Maintain tension and integrity. A common mistake is to shut things off and do a semi-controlled fall as a way to lower and then try to come back up any which way. You can do better than that.

Is it more difficult to train like this? Yes. Will you be able to hit ego-stoking high reps? Not for a while, but you’ll get more out of each rep, so you won’t have to perform as many.

You’ll still want to build up to higher reps. High rep work is a great way to etch these movement patterns into the nervous system, get everything working together more efficiently, and to build the ligaments and connective tissues.

Show up every day.

Feeling sore? Pick easier variations as well as ones that emphasize mobility. Keep moving. Strength work, performed with good control and through a full range of motion will do more for your flexibility than all the ballet classes at charm school.

A good goal would be to strength train five days per week.  Again, this is a practice, not a scrunch-your-face-pain-is-weakness-leaving-the-body workout.

Have weights at home? Great, add weight to these movements when you need more challenge or better yet, add two minutes of pulling work (rack pull ups, inverted rows, etc.) to balance out the push work.

Strength before cardio. Always.

The sample workouts listed are just to provide ideas. None of them are set in stone. Challenge yourself, but do what’s right for you.

The work will be done in three to four blocks. Links below are to videos of exercise progressions.

If time and equipment permit, include:

  • 2 – 3 Minutes of Upper Body Pull Pulling is a bit more straightforward. Start with Rack Pull ups, switch down to inverted rows, and finish up with rear delt flys. As you get stronger, spend more time on pull ups, or do them without as much help from the legs.

If you included every block, you’re still looking at just 16 – 22 minutes of work. If you just did two blocks – legs and push ups, you’re just doing eight minutes of work. With no drive to the gym. Listen to Coach Karolyi:

Sample Workout One:

3 minute block:

Push up variation, stop and rest as needed

5 minute block:

One leg movement (squats, lunges, side lunges), stop and rest as needed

2 minute block:

Inverted rows, stop and rest as needed

3 minute block:
Side plank :30/:30, Hollow body holds :30, repeat for 3 minutes total

Sample Workout Two

3 minute block:

  1. 1 minute knee push-ups
  2. 1 minute hand walks with optional push ups
  3. 1 minute Spider-Man

5 minute block:

  1. 1 minutes of alternating lunges
  2. 1 minutes of side lunges
  3. 3 minute of squats – stretch (forward bend) or rest as needed

2 – 3 minute block of pulling

  1. Rack pull ups, inverted rows, rear delts

3 minute block

  1. :30 side plank (R/L)
  2. :30 hollow body hold
  3. :30 side plank (R/L)
  4. :30 hollow body hold

Sample Workout Three

3 minute block:

  1. 1 minute explosive push-ups (knees or straight leg)
  2. 1 minute dive bomber push-ups
  3. 1 minute Spider-Man

5 minute block:

  1. 2 minutes lunges
  2. 1 minute Cossack squats
  3. 1 minute side lunges
  4. 1 minute squats

2 – 3 minute block of pulling

  1. Rack pull ups, inverted rows, rear delts

3 – 6 minute block

  1. 1 minute side plank (R)
  2. 1 minute side plank (L)
  3. 1 minute leg lowering

Repeat for a total of 6 minutes of work

Sample Workout Four

3 minute block:

  1. 1 minute explosive push-ups (rest as needed)
  2. 1 minute dive bombers
  3. 1 minute T-bridge or Push-ups + Spiderman

5 minute block:

  1. 1 minute split jumps, jump squats or skater hops
  2. 2 minutes split squats (1 minute R, 1 minute L)
  3. 1 minute Cossack squats
  4. 1 minute squats

2 – 3 minute block of pulling

  1. Rack pull ups, inverted rows, rear delts

3 – 6 minute block:

  1. 1 minute side plank (R)
  2. 1 minute side plank (L)
  3. 1 minute hollow body hold / Leg Lowering


Practice daily. Keep showing up and trying to get get a little better each time. Commit and play the long game. Do that and great things will happen.

Train hard, train safe and have fun!



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