A Simple, Easy Workout Routine {Plus A Free Printable}


Read about my take on exercise and weight loss here.

Over the years I have tried lots of different types of exercise – running, going to a gym, workout videos, classes…well, you get the idea. What I’ve learned is: KISS (keep it simple, silly) – and yes I changed the last word, ’cause we don’t need anymore negative talk, do we?

When I aim for a simple, easy (which means easy to do and easy to fit into my day) workout routine I’m more likely to actually do it consistently. Even to the point where it becomes {gasp} a habit.

Gee, can you tell that exercise doesn’t come easily to me? If it does for you- ignore all of this and get out there and do what you already do!

My KISS workout consists of about 10 minutes of weights and exercises followed by 20 to 30 minutes on the treadmill. That’s it. It’s not complicated, doesn’t require a lot of time or money, but it does help me be able to hike, walk, garden, or snowshoe with ease and helps me to feel good.

My “gym” is made up of this treadmill in my workroom closet, a shelf with a TV so I can watch the morning shows (and try not to think about how much I want to be done…), and a pair of 5-lb. dumbbells (lower right corner).

I know…super fancy, isn’t it? The thing is- it gets used, more in the winter than summer, but used nonetheless. I’ve no desire to add a bunch of stuff that would probably collect dust.

Notice green post-it note on the treadmill? Brian helped me devise a “quick and dirty” (but highly effective) exercise routine to do (repeated twice) before hopping on the treadmill which I wrote down and posted where I can see it to easily remember:

  1. Push-ups, girl-style. Maybe one day I’ll work up to regular, but right now I have to go easy on my back. And let me just say that the first week I added push-ups to my routine my whole upper chest and arms felt the burn. This may be embarrassing, but I’m going to share so that any of you wanting motivation will know that whatever number you can do to start is better than nothing: I started with 4 push-ups. Yeah…and the forth was hard. I try to add another every week or two, as I’m able. Seriously, it’s amazing how strong you feel doing just 10 push-ups (well, 2 times).
  2. Lunges. The first time through I do 16 one-leg-at-a-time lunges (so 8 each leg), the second time I do the same amount, but add the 5-lb. weights. Don’t go down so far that your knees are touching the ground- it’s not good for them. I just go far enough to feel it in my quads, especially ’cause I have knees that pop and can hurt sometimes.
  3. Arm curls. Using the 5-lb weights (I’ll be investing in 8 and 10-lb soon) I complete 12 curls – both arms at the same time. Second time through I’ll alternate arms as I do the curls, just to change it up a bit. Key with curls is to do them slowly, always having control of the weight and using your arm muscles lift them and put them down- not gravity.
  4. Military press. I sit on a stool (to protect my back) and push the weights over my head, military-style, again doing it slowly and with control. I do about 12 each rotation.
  5. Crunches. I bring it to the floor and complete 30-40 crunches each rotation. NOT sit-ups, which are hard on my back and often don’t work the stomach like crunches. I cross my arms over my chest and curl until I feel my stomach muscles working.

These are the same exercises that Brian does for his own workouts before running (a-hem…well, I’m sure he uses more weight and does more guy push-ups and such, plus he does dips from a bar, but I’m SO not doin’ those…) and he’s in great shape.

They work arms, back, legs, and core strength. Brian’s advice is to complete these as quickly as possible (not losing form, but mainly not taking a lot of time between each exercise) in order to be a bit winded after completing both rounds.

Because I have back issues I’ve also added these back exercises that my sister (a P.T.) gave me years ago, which I do after the crunches:

  1. Bottom-lift. I lay on the floor with my back touching and my legs bent with my feet flat on the floor (oh, dear…I hope that makes sense), then lift my bottom up until my back and legs are in alignment, then back down again. Slowly. 20 times on first rotation.
  2. Bottom-lift with leg lift. On the second rotation, I add a leg lift when my bottom is up – one at a time, alternating, 20 times. It’s very important on this one to have control and tighten my core when the leg is lifted- not dipping my bottom at all. I couldn’t do 20 without losing my form when I started, so I’ve worked up to that number. I’ve done this exercise for years and it really does help lower back problems.
  3. Alternate leg and arm lift. I roll over and end the rotation with this exercise – face down and lifting my alternate leg and arm, holding it for a few seconds before lowering and doing the other side. I do 20 of these (to equal 10 each side) on each rotation.

I aim to do these exercises plus 20 to 30 of cardio (treadmill, walking/biking outside, swimming, etc.) three times a week in addition to doing active things throughout the day like gardening, cleaning, or running after children (which are not my own anymore, but I do babysit…). I’m OK with two days, or sometimes even one during really busy weeks- but I try not to go an entire week without working out because I feel that anything I can fit in is better than nothing.

If you’d like to add this simple workout to your routine – and you’re kinda forgetful like I am – I’ve created a little “cheat-sheet” card that you can cut out and post where you do your exercises.

10 Minute Easy Exercise Routine

Click on the image below to open in a new window.

I’d love to know some of your favorite exercises that are “quick and dirty” but have helped you to feel stronger and more fit! Plus, if you’ve written about your workout routine, be sure to leave a link in the comments or on An Oregon Cottage’s Facebook page.



  1. says

    I want to thank you for your posts on weight loss and healthy habits. I love how “real” and honest you are! You have been an inspiration to me to continue my own journey and incorporate some of your tips. Thank you!

  2. says

    I have a hard time with doing lunges and squats, too. I hurt my knees several times when I was younger while running, and I hurt them while working as a chambermaid. Plus I think knees just get old.

    What I love about your routine is that it is easy, simple, and quick. I think people get hung up in getting a lot done when all they really need to do is get started and have something they can do on a regular basis.

  3. KathyJ says

    Thank you… have never needed to exercise before (good genes), but have gained a size in the last year… and am always tired. Need to do something. This sounds like a good fit.

  4. Shannon says

    Jami, what type of treadmill do you have? I love that it folds up & away so it doesn’t need a dedicated room. While I’d love to walk outside everyday I’m a fair weather fitness girl and Seattle’s climate just doesn’t encourage that!

    • says

      Oh, yeah, me too, Shannon! My sister’s think I’m nuts to use a treadmill, but I just won’t do it if it’s cold and rainy (or just rainy, ha!). It’s an old one – I think they call them space savers or something like that. Mine is a Proform Crosswalk – I don’t even know if they make them anymore, as it must be almost 10years old now. :)

  5. Marie says

    Jami, thank you for the weight loss series! I’m encouraged by your success despite still enjoying treats like chocolate, ice cream (I am totally planning to make the machine-free recipe), and – a favorite of mine – homemade granola. You’ve reinforced what I already knew but needed to hear – it’s not enough to eat real food, I also need to control my portions. I’m going to start with your idea of halving everything. It looks like by the portion sizes you’ve shown, halving mine would be prudent (and much nicer than giving up granola altogether). Thanks again and I’m printing the exercise cheat sheet for the days when I can’t stand to do the same workout video yet again.

    • says

      I’m glad you are finding it helpful, Marie. :) I think you’ll be surprised at how cutting portions will help you achieve your goals!

  6. Shannon says

    Thanks so much for this simple workout, Jamie. I start back to the gym this week and am dreading working with the “trainer” because I just want to KISS this time. No killer workouts that leave me hurting for days, dreading anything physical, etc. Being able to take this in and know that I’m getting an effective workout is so comforting!!!

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