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  • Al Painter NASM-CPT, CES, PES, BA


Updated: Mar 29, 2020

Most of my workouts take place in my backyard. By most I mean all. Convenience being the biggest reason why.

Ocular lactic acid accumulation from what I see my fellow humans doing in bix box gyms being a pretty damn close second. I swear to (insert person deity of choice here) that people are not actually working out, but competing in the "World's Dumbest Human" competition. Do a search for "fitness fail" on the YouTubes and you'll several shining examples of human evolution here.

By the way, yes, burpees, I'm talking to you. Seriously, just stop with that exercise. Forever, please.

I get the whole high heart rate thing it can induce, but c'mon. A burpee combined with anything in a superset fashion is just dumb. But hey, you do you.

Sometimes, Al Loses Focus...

So, where we we? Oh yeah, at home exercise advice. Lucky for you, I possess just such knowledge and I'm not shy about sharing it with you.

Here's the biggest key to a successful home exercise program. It is so simple you'll want to make yourself do burpees for not seeing it sooner.

Ready? Here you go...

Basics. Work. Best.

Yep, that's it. And yet people want to turn this into atom splitting rocket science and try to be as catastrophically "creatively clever" as possible. Which is a complete waste of time BTW.

Here's how you make exercise at home effective. You simply STOP working out at and start developing a consistent movement habit. Doing that will not only work better, it will be easier to stick to.

Schedule a day and time where you will dedicate 15-30 minutes to move, and then, well, move. Pretty simple, right?

So here's what that should look like. Pick BASIC squat, push and pull variations and have at it. Here are a few examples.

Bodyweight Squat

Taking this from two legs to one is a great way to strength the lower body at home.

Exercise Band Step and Press

Very functional movement that will improve the way your core stabilizes movement for your arms and legs.

Suspension Trainer Pull

Keeping with the basics work best motif, a suspension trainer pull can round this three exericse movement habit sesh (sorry, couldn't resist) nicely.

You can get quite more exericse examples on my YouTube channel as well as my Instagram account.

Muscular Math

So, you're probably thinking "ok Capt Smart Guy, I've taken the time to read your muscular musings, how about you deliver the steak to go with the sizzle?"

Well, not being one to disappoint the faithful fitness facianados who read my PE prosification (good to see my parents paying into my Journalism degree was a worthwhile investment...), I will convert and help you become a more informed exercise consumer.

When you're creating a home movement habit (remember, we aren't building workouts), pick SIMPLE set and rep schemes that are easy to stick to. This will keep your life easier and you'll have a better chance at consistency that way.

The following rep and set scheme examples work well:

  • 3 sets of 8-12 with :45-:60 of rest

  • 3 sets of :30-:40 of isometric holds (brutally effective at home exercise selection btw)

  • 3-5 sets of moving for :30 then resting for :30. You'll need to go with more fundamental movements at lighter loads, but this works well at home.

But as they say on late night tv, "but wait, there's more." Is this still a thing btw or did I just completely date myself?

I mean with the whole point, click, buy, dopamine hit process of consumerism nowadays, do we still get to hear that in the wee hours of the morning?

These are the things I wonder. Don't worry, I'll always tackle the tough issues so you don't have to. I'm good like that.

Building Blocks

To make things even easier to program, if you use the following four week phases, it will be easier for you to keep progressing.

  • Work in four weeks building blocks keeping the exercises THE SAME. DO NOT CHANGE THEM. Gain mastery, THEN add variety.

  • Weeks 1-4: Stability to build your foundation (3 x 10-15)

  • Weeks 5-8: Strength to make your foundation stronger (3-4 x 4-6 reps)

  • Weeks 9-12: Strength Endurance to see how long is your strong (3 x something to effect of 3:00 of moving with 1:00-3:00 of rest best). Three exercises with 3-5 reps done continuously is what I like here.

  • Weeks 13-16: HIIT to work on your GIDDYUP AND GO!(8-12 x :20 on :10 off), use SIMPLE movement and LIGHT loads.

  • Go back to the stability phase and start the building blocks over again, just at a higher level.

I've used this programming approach since about 2004 or so and it has worked beautifully. It is an incredibly simple way to keep people progressing. Juan Carlos Santana MEd, CSCS from the Institute of Human Performance gets 100% of the credit for this methodology.

How Many, How Much, How Often

Now that we've got the exercises to do, the amount of those exercises to do and how long you should do them each time, let's talk about when to do them. The following schedule examples will break that down for you.


• Day 1: Total Body

• Day 2: Total Body


• Day 1: Upper Body

• Day 2: Lower Body

• Day 3: Total Body


• Day 1: Total Body

• Day 2: Total Body

• Day 3: Total Body


•Day 1: Upper Body Push + Pull

•Day 2: Lower Body Squat + Hinge

•Day 3: Upper Body Push + Pull

•Day 4: Lower Body Squat + Hinge

Progressing Your Progressions

Once you've dialed in the above mention muscular awesome, I'm guessing you probably want to know how you keep progressing through your building blocks. Well, here it is.

BE WARNED: it is SIMPLE (see the theme here?) and probably not Instaworthy sexy, but, it is effective none the less.

To progress your movement habit, all you do is (1):

1) Add more reps, sets or TUT (Time Under Tension, hold a position longer)

2) Increase a load or change an angle if you're using bodyweight.

3) Go from using two arms to a moving a single arm

4) Same thing with the lower body going from two legs to eventually one.

The Take Away

So the takeaway for this whole home exercise programming diatribe is to keep things, yep, you guessed it simple. The easiest way is to pick a squat, push and a pull and use a basics works best approach to getting stronger at home!

If you live in the Silicon Valley and you want more information on this, contact me and we can get in touch to talk about your goals, what equipment you have available and how I can best help you develop your home movement habit. I've got a great app that I use from Trainerize that I can deliver workouts right to your phone.

Until then, follow the #basicsworkbest hashtag on Instagram to get simple approaches to your exercise program. Thanks a ton for reading, have an AWESOME week!


1) “Essence of Band and Pulley Training,” Juan Carlos Santana, MEd, CSCS

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