There are few places more intimidating than the weight room. Gym enthusiasts seem to know exactly where to go and what to do, while the rest of us wander around, eventually landing on "quick start" on the treadmill because at least that we can figure out. Even though we know the benefits of strength training—greater bone density, lower cholesterol, reduced body fat—the whole process just seems so complicated. Three sets of eight reps or one set of 20? How long should breaks last? How often do I need to put myself through this to see results?

The good news is, your bodyweight and a set of dumbbells right at home will work just as well as all of the fancy stuff at the gym.

Here's The Plan:

  • The strength-training program outlined below takes about 30 minutes. Do 12 repetitions of each of the following exercises, then rest for 30 seconds and gently stretch or massage the muscles you worked. Repeat for a total of three sets. 
  • Perform this routine three non-consecutive days per week (in conjunction with a healthy diet), and you'll see measurable changes in eight weeks. When the dumbbells start feeling easy, raise the weight you're using. Remember that lifting a challenging load won't bulk you up like a bodybuilder, and lifting dumbbells that are too light won't produce change in the muscles.
  • Strength training creates tiny microscopic tears in the muscle fibres that allow them to grow back stronger—that's why you feel muscle soreness post-workout. The process of healing those tears takes 24-48 hours, so avoid doing this program on consecutive days. Allow 1-2 days between, and do cardio or stretching workouts (like this one) while your muscles heal. If you rarely or never experience this soreness, increase the weights you are lifting.
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