In this page I’m going to give you a five minute a day training session that you can use to build meaningful strength and hypertrophy (muscular growth).
Only five minutes a day may sound like unbelievable to achieve this goal. But there is an emerging body of scientific literature that shows that high-intensity exercise can lead to meaningful changes positive changes. Giving it your all for short durations, infrequently even, has positive effects on your biomarkers. That means in your blood work and also in your physique and in building strength.
Building strength and muscle mass are really important for human longevity. In fact they are the strongest correlation that we have for human longevity.
There is a lot of debate over what the optimal diet is and there may even be some variation amongst different populations for optimal diet. What’s not arguable is that exercise itself is beneficial to all humans. Any physical activity, from walking the dog to gardening to exercise. Any physical activity is going to have a positive correlation to human longevity.
Strength and muscle mass have the highest correlation from an anti-aging perspective. So, for human longevity the most important thing that any of us can do is physical activity focused on building strength and building muscle.
Many people initially decide to do some physical activity by going to run, get their heart rate up. Build that cardiovascular fitness, etc. But make sure that you include strength sessions in your physical activity.
You do not have to go become a bodybuilder. You don’t have to do strength training only. But keep in mind that when you strength train at a high intensity you are getting cardiovascular work as well. You are training the cardiovascular system and at the same time you are building muscle and get stronger.
Also, if you are endurance athlete like a cyclist or a runner, whatever it is that you do, make sure to add strength training.
Make bodyweight training a habit
The reason that I like five minutes a day is because a big part of success in life at anything instituting meaningful change is making those things a habit. Telling people to strength train twice a week, often means people do it fanatically in the beginning. But it is not frequent enough to become a habit.
However, if you’re doing this five or six or even seven days a week (I generally favor taking at least one rest day a week), build that habit is much easier. When you do this every day, ideally at the same time every day, it will become habit. To the point where if you skip a day it will feel odd. You will get to a point where you do it because it’s simply what you do as a habit.
It’s the same with bad habits, isn’t it? We Institute bad habits and they’re incredibly hard to break. It’s the same thing with good habits. Once we have them they’re incredibly hard to break as well.
So that is the main reason, for a beginner, to do short sessions. Building that that positive habit that is going to become a part of your day. Skipping a day will make you feel itching to get back to it.
The bodyweight training beginner exercises
The beginner exercises are 2 simple exercises. You will be doing them in a specific way that’s will make them high intensity and maximize your five minutes. These 2 exercises are:
- bodyweight squats
These need to be performed a certain way.
We want to work toward a full range of motion. This means bringing your butt to your heels. When you are not able to do this, for example because of lacking the ankle or the hip mobility to get all the way down, don’t worry.
Week after week, session after session, as you work on going as low as you can, you may find that your range of motion improves.
I also have a bodyweight squat tutorial which has information about mobility drills and stretches that will help address mobility issues.
Let’s start the standard bodyweight squat. Simply focusing on the dynamic movement, meaning going down and up, sure that’s a rep(etition). We did a bodyweight squat but we didn’t make it as hard as possible. Doing the simple movement means many people can perform 60 or 70 squats. That takes a long time and it’s really boring.
By increasing muscular tension we can make this more efficient and more fun.
You want to get into your squat position and apply tension via flexing the quads, the hamstrings and the glutes. Compress the ABS (abdominal muscles) and come down slowly.
As you’re coming down focus on flexing the hamstrings, glutes and quads. For your core muscles (ABS) focus on keeping as much tension as possible.
Once you came down to the bottom of your individual range of motion, squeeze those glutes hamstrings and quads until you are in standing straight up again.
What happens when you’re applying constant tension like that is that it will make these movements much much more difficult. You’ll be wearing out all these muscles.
These muscles will reach momentary muscular failure more quickly and more efficiently with less dynamic movements.
In a similar manner, we perform push-ups. These will be hollow body push-ups.
The key things to keep in mind is compressing the abdominals and a slight posterior pelvic tilt. Compress abdominals together with a slight posterior pelvic tilt. When you do that you’ve got to tighten the glutes like you’re squeezing whatever between the cheeks. I know it sounds bad but tighten the glutes, tighten the hamstrings, and tighten the quads.
Start in a plank position. When you properly perform make your planes harder. Tighten all that musculature. Hollow-body pushup studies show, via EEG scanning, that sliding your hands back six inches, just outside shoulder-width, from a standard push-up position leads to maximal engagement of the pecs and the triceps.
This is what we want when doing bodyweight training.
Compress core, tight glutes, tight hamstrings tight quads. Flexing all that musculature getting your hands placed, back six inches, protract the shoulder.
Then you’re going to retract your shoulder slowly lowering yourself down. When you get to the bottom, right back up to full shoulder protraction while maintaining tight core, tight glutes, tight leg musculature.
You did a full rep.
The complete bodyweight training program for beginners
To summarize how you put this together in a training program. First, set a timer on a watch or your phone for five minutes. Do one set of squats to momentary muscular failure (squat until you can’t do any additional repetition). Then go right into push-ups, also one set to momentary muscular failure.
If this takes you five minutes you’re done. If you’re under five minutes go back into a second set.
Perform this daily to help build and reinforce that positive habit of daily activity. If you’re very sore the next day, don’t do this again. Let that DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) dissipate. Take a day or two until doing it again. Work to the point where you don’t have that bad DOMS anymore, until you can do this daily. A tiny bit of soreness is fine. That’s normal for training but for excessive soreness, take a day off.
Some studies show that newer trainees, or athletes that are not conditioned well yet, training when you have severe DOMS, training those same muscles again, is not efficient. So, take a day off to let that soreness dissipate.
If you’re new to strength training, this small training program is a really good way to start building a base level of conditioning and start building some strength before you go into my twenty-minute eight movement bodyweight training session. Once this beginner training program becomes easy, move on to the 20-minute 8 movement full-body training program.
For more details, watch the video I made explaining and demonstrating everything I described in this page: