Basic Training

Intro / Monday & Tuesday

Jan 1, 2005
Outside Magazine
Karen Merrill Workout

For a step-by-step guide to each exercise in Merrill's regimen, go to

A PLEASANT SPACE for your home gym is essential. You won't respect your workout or be inspired to exercise at all if the setting is a messy afterthought. And remember: Equipment stashed under the bed or in a closet tends to be forgotten. » SEEK GUIDANCE from pros. With your goals in mind, a trainer can help you figure out what gear you need. (See and for trainer databases.) » TUNES GOOD, PHONE BAD: Crank the stereo or watch TV when exercising, but don't gab on the cell or read—you'll only sabotage intensity. » STRUCTURE RULES: Before you attack, you've got to have a sound strategy. Personal trainer Karen Merrill knows how to make home-gym time as productive as possible. Her weekday regimen, detailed below, takes a little over an hour a day to complete. You can do it with both the minimalist setup shown here and the primo fitness center laid out on pages 40–41. Work through the cardio sessions on any machine. For the day's lifting exercises, complete three sets of 10 to 12 reps, starting with a light weight, and finish every session with five minutes of stretching.

MONDAY » Cardio: 30 minutes, moderately hard
Strength: (1) flat bench press (vary grip width on each set); (2) incline bench press; (3) decline bench press (vary grip width on each set); (4) staggered-stance push-ups (place one hand on a thick dictionary or phone book and alternate hands on the book with each set); (5) bent-over one-arm dumbbell rows; (6) bent-over barbell rows; (7) upright dumbbell rows; (8) crunches; (9) crunches with heels on bench

TUESDAY » Strength: (1) bench step-ups/step-downs; (2) walking lunges with light dumbbells; (3) squats or leg press; (4) single-leg squats (tip of one shoe rests on a bench behind you; squat with other leg) or single-leg press; (5) leg curls (if no machine, position your upper body on a bench, facedown, knees on the floor, then clamp a dumbbell » between your shoes and curl it toward your glutes); (6) bridging (with legs straight, place heels up on a bench, back on the floor, then squeeze your butt and back off the ground, holding for five to ten seconds, then repeat)