Every Man Should Do This Exercise Routine Every Day

by Brett and Kate McKay on January 8, 2008 · 52 comments

in Health & Sports

Men are busier than ever today. Our society has created a non-stop culture that often leaves little time for exercise. Thankfully, Charles Atlas shared a simple 10 minute exercise routine in a 1936 Physical Culture Magazine. While 10 minutes is not enough to give to your health, it’s better than nothing and can help keep you from getting soft. What’s great about this exercise routine at home is it doesn’t require any weights. Ready to get started? Let’s get ripped!

Spine stretching. This exercise helps maintain flexibility in your back. Stand up straight and clasp your hands behind your head. Bend down quickly and touch your elbows to your knees. Rise, repeat 12 times.


Deep knee bends. Deep knee bends are great for working your quads, butt, and hip flexors. Stand shoulder width apart hands on waist. Squat all the way down. Rise, repeat until failure.

Calf raises. This exercise works your calves. Stand with feet a little less than shoulder width apart. Rise up on your toes and lower yourself down. Repeat until failure. To add a challenge, perform the exercise with your toes on a phone book.


Push-ups. Place your hands on the ground about shoulder width apart. Lower yourself to the ground and rise. Repeat until failure. Mix up the muscles you work by widening and narrowing your hand position.

Dips. Sit on the ground. Elevate your feet by placing them on a chair or bed. Lift and lower yourself with your arms until failure.


Leg raises. This exercise works your abs. Sit on the floor with your hands behind you, propping you up and your legs straight out and close together. Quickly lift your legs up until your body forms a “v” shape. Lower, repeat until failure.

Bicycle crunch. This is a great ab exercise that hits all the muscles in your stomach. Lie flat on the floor with your lower back pressed to the ground. Put your hands beside your head. Bring knees up to about a 45-degree angle and slowly go through a bicycle pedal motion. Touch your left elbow to your right knee, then your right elbow to your left knee.


Source: Every Man, Every Day Should Do These

{ 52 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Coop January 13, 2008 at 2:16 pm

Great stuff!


2 mike February 2, 2008 at 1:03 am

Great exercise routine from the master. I would strongly recommend adding pull ups and chin ups to this routine. They totally blast the back, giving you that incredible v-shape, as well as strengthen and tone the arms.


3 KBK February 10, 2008 at 12:07 pm

This is a fine set of exercises. I can also recommend


which takes 14 minutes and requires no equipment beyond a sledgehammer and a sweatshirt.

So for 25 minutes in all (less time than it takes to drive to the gym) you get a pretty complete workout without spending any money. Next, get outside and walk or bike quickly for 30 minutes to add the aerobic component!

4 Someone February 17, 2008 at 1:10 pm

Training to failure is training your body to fail.

And they recommend you do this everyday?


5 Marius February 17, 2008 at 4:41 pm

I would not recommend the squats the way shown here. Sure if you have huge muscles and very strong ligaments you’ll be fine. Otherwise it’s a good way to damage knees….. I know :(….
Even Kurz who for years insisted on advertising them gave up and has sentences on his site admitting it’s not a good way to do squats.
For normal people squat on flat feet with not allowing knees pass the toes (shin as perpendicular as you can to the floor) is the best.

6 Peter February 18, 2008 at 9:08 am

“Training to failure is training your body to fail.”?!?!
Here’s the thing – just because a phrase sounds catchy or rhymes, doesn’t mean its good advise, or even makes sense. I’m not even sure what “training your body to dail” could possibly mean. (and the author probably doesn’t either.)

Great series, I agree with Mike and KBK, tack on some pull ups and cardio and you have a good workout. Don’t make the cardio excessive either or you’ll find the pounds you’re shedding may be coming from some muscle loss.

7 Bem February 18, 2008 at 7:14 pm

@Marius: While that may be “easier” on the knees, that will DESTROY your lower back. Squat with flat feet is definitely right, but the knees can pass over the toes, it’s fine.

8 John Koetsier February 18, 2008 at 9:06 pm

Training to failure is actually, in my experience, the best way to grow. It’s only on the last couple reps, when you’re absolutely giving it all to move the weight, that your muscles are ‘learning’ that they’re not strong enough, and giving the signals that they need to get bigger.

9 Mike March 26, 2008 at 5:27 pm

This guy, CA, was quite impressive. Apparently utilizing a great diet and body exercises, the man proved that determination and persistence would prevail the desired results. This is a man that towed a train car by himself! Obviously, his routine , the 10-14 minute one, is designed more along a “maintenance” ideal. Training myself, I found that although in some instances harder, using free weights and no machines is best,& coupled with body exercises done in proper form will gain results! Bravo CA! Yeh Old School Ways!

10 Kian May 20, 2008 at 6:29 pm

The knees should never go over the toes in a squat unless the hip is laterally rotated (ie turned out, think a dancers plie) other wise the sheer force on the patella could cause a great deal of damage to the ligaments in the knee. Think about sitting in a chair and sticking your butt out, that will get your back in proper alignment. Squatting like this, if done correctly, will never do any damage to your back.

The forward bend done as depicted will lead to lumbar pain, instead roll through the spine as you exhale, pause at the bottom of the movement and inhale, and as you exhale slowly rebuild your spine one vertebrae at a time with the head coming up last. That will insure that all of the correct muscles are being used.

The whole training the body to fail is a highly debated training method, some say it trains the muscle more fully, others say it is a good way to injure your muscle fibers. My own opinion is that if you would like to go to failure you must be able to maintain good form throughout every repetition.


11 Brett May 20, 2008 at 6:57 pm

@Kian-Actually, many sources I have read say that that is a myth. http://www.stronglifts.com is one. But books on lifting from fitness experts say the same thing.

12 Kian May 22, 2008 at 4:45 pm

Brett, I said many things, what is a myth?
And in my opinion stronglifts.com has little biomechanical, physiological, anatomical, or scientific basis, only experiential which can be really dangerous.

13 Brett May 22, 2008 at 4:52 pm

@Kian-Sorry for not specifying….I was referring to your comment that you shouldn’t let your knees go over your toes. Several books I read have said this is a myth. While they did say to turn your toes out slightly, I don’t think a full on plie is necessary.

14 Kian May 23, 2008 at 12:32 pm


You’re right in that an unloaded squat (ie body weight) there is not enough force to cause damage when the knees travel over the toes, and that a full plie really isn’t necessary, I thought it might be a good image for some but was mistaken. However once you add resistance, such as weight, the sheer forces on the knee when past the toes can cause serious damage, mainly on the ACL. When one allows the knee to go in front of the toe, an inefficient angle is created that sends forces to ligaments in ways that they weren’t meant to support.

Even though I disagree with some of the things on stronglifts.com, he writes, “Knees Over Toes. Don’t let your knees travel forward in the bottom Squat position. Knees over the toes, not further.” which I can fully support.
about 1/4 of the way down.

15 Rich May 27, 2008 at 10:18 pm

Along with Charles Atlas I would recommend Jack LaLanne. At 93, the last I heard, he was buoyant and optimistic and in better shape than most men one-third his age. I have dabbled in various home-exercise regimens over the years (dabbled too much and persevered far too little, I must admit), and find that Jack’s instructions are clear and effective, and his exercises easy to remember (if not always easy to do!). And of course, he’s an inspiration to geezers like me (in case there are any other geezers reading here).

16 Tron June 1, 2008 at 2:52 am

Just a quick add on (i’m all for excercise routines that avoid either A. haivng to buy expensive equipment, or having to shell out cash for a gym membership).
Jumping jacks, yea they sound dumb. But do what they do in the military (canadian anyways, as i’ve got a friend in there). only every 4th jump counts as ’1′ jumping jack.
so ex: 1.2.3.ONE, 1,2,3, TWO etc. etc.
you end up doing alot more than you would think you can, as you know say you get to 40 you think ‘k thats not much’ but really you’ve done 160.
just a decent overall workout routine to add. Or not, your call.

17 Lau June 6, 2008 at 12:33 pm

Just to weigh in on the squat issue. I’ve gathered from various sources that, the best way to prevent knee/back injury with this and other “olympic style” movements, is to shift your weight back and push through your heels, and always keep your back straight.

18 Howler July 13, 2008 at 6:07 am

Doing squats on your toes is not bad for your knees, mainly if done with ONLY body weight as resistance. It’s a good variation, like Sissy Squats, but you should NEVER do the same exercises everyday. Variety is not only the spice of life, it’s the forge in which a healthy, well honed body is forged. Plyometrics, calisthenics, running, resistance training, and cross training of all varieties (bicycling, swimming, hiking, climbing, rowing, stair climbing, martial arts, etc…). And always warm-up before exercising, then do some east ballistic stretching, then hit your workout. Then do your cool down and static stretches. You follow this advice and you’ll be a human dynamo. The above routine is good for a week, or two to get your body primed for more beneficial and adveanced workouts. Good luck.

19 Charlie August 18, 2008 at 3:42 pm

The Charles Atlas method really works. You can buy it at http://kunaki.com/Sales.asp?PID=PX00ZPPSFC. I have used it for 2 years with awesome results.

20 Mad Cow October 10, 2008 at 3:04 am

Squats bad for your knees? Hogwash! Of all exercises, the squat is king. Mr. Atlas is demonstrating a fine drill, as long as you don’t have any weight. If you add weight, keep your heels on the floor. Squats are hard work, and people make all manner of excuses not to do them. Keep your form correct, and you’re safe.

Training to failure is the best way to stimulate growth. By pushing your muscles as hard as they can work, they adapt to the increased need. Yet another cop-out the lazybones use to avoid hard work.

Man up and your outputs will equal your inputs. Pain is the sensation of weakness leaving your body.

21 Andrew October 19, 2008 at 6:52 am

I’ve been using a variant of the Canadian Air Force exercises that I read in The Hacker’s Diet. Like this it should take about 15 minutes and is intended to keep you fit, but instead of exercising to failure you do a set number of reps. I understand why working to failure is good for building strength and endurance, but when you’re just trying to stay in reasonable shape pushing your limits every single day is going to put you off excercising.


22 Brent November 7, 2008 at 12:20 pm

Uh, these are terrible exercises. First of all, the deep knee bends hyperextend the knee joint to a dangerous extent, even if you’re only carrying bodyweight. Your knee is not meant to be compressed that far backwards with your weight over the top of it. This is why with weighted squats, you try to keep your knees over your feet at most, if not all, times.

Secondly, bicycle crunches have been shown to put an excessive amount of pressure on the spine. It is one of the exercises the physical therapists I have dealt with have strongly suggested against. Do regular crunches. With knees bent on the ground. Also, if you do weightlifting, things such as squats and deadlifts will workout your abs better than any crunch ever could.

23 Ken November 7, 2008 at 4:09 pm

Good discussion. Here’s my technique for squats: Feet shoulder-width, shoulders back and down like you’re squeezing a pingpong ball between your shoulder blades, back straight/abs tight/head up, butt out as you descend like you’re going to sit on the toilet. Down till quads parallel to floor, then up. This alleviates pressure on knees by keeping knees centered over feet and not straining patellar ligaments. For variety, do jump squats, where you go down, hold for 3-5 sec, then explode up, jumping off the floor. I usually do jump-regular-jump times 15, then lunges same way. Just make sure you land softly, not like the Incredible Hulk.

PS. Only Atlas can rock the leopard-print banana sling–not for mere mortals.

24 Raffaella November 9, 2008 at 10:56 am

Thank’s for sharing! Very Interesting!

25 Omar January 6, 2009 at 6:49 am

What a great post and a great website! I’m 21 years old and have never exercised, but I just tried this set for the first time today. It was hilariously pathetic (I could barely do one decent pushup). However, I’m gonna stick with it, and see how it goes! I’ll have to report back on my progress in a few weeks!

Thank you Art of Manliness blog for this and other great posts!!

26 Sidney June 18, 2009 at 11:47 am

Charles Atlas, Ltd. should be credited with the photos as well as continuing to make people fit even today! Check out the company that Charles Atlas himself started at http://www.charlesatlas.com!

27 Cheap Soma pain relief July 8, 2009 at 1:51 am

Nice one, considering a healthy but not a time consuming exercise is worthy than no exercise at all!

28 Michael Moon July 24, 2009 at 5:48 pm

On days I don’t have time or don’t feel motivated to go to the gym, these will at least keep my body from feeling like complete dough. Thanks for this and all the other informative posts!

29 Ryan August 12, 2009 at 10:43 pm

Health is best when it uses natural types of healing.

Outside of the box is the way to do it.

Here is some great outside of the box information about spiritual healing


30 Seig Heil August 16, 2009 at 3:06 am
31 Travis August 17, 2009 at 12:20 pm

Definitely have to disagree with going to failure. Look up Pavel’s stuff or go to dragondoor.com

32 Jonny | thelifething.com August 21, 2009 at 10:36 am

While I love the advise. I am more then a little unsettled with the workout attire. Not something I would wear to the gym anyhow.

33 Brett & Kate McKay August 21, 2009 at 11:03 am

Jonny- Everyone knows that if you want these sort of results, you need to wear a leopard brief. :)

34 Jay September 4, 2009 at 6:43 am
35 Nicolaus Rand November 6, 2009 at 11:06 am

I work in a physically demanding job in the special operations community. My advice is trying CrossFit (what we do).




36 Jeezy November 27, 2009 at 5:55 pm

biomechanically u go low enough your knees are going to go over your toes…..

if kian wants to argue; argue with this guy……

37 Darba piedāvajumi January 2, 2010 at 5:28 am

Really great pictures! :) I will try to do it daily, but I am lazy enough not to do so, but i promise that I will try! :)

38 Alex January 2, 2010 at 8:28 am

Actually pretty useful stuff because our routine is getting more and more activeless.

39 Aaron January 27, 2010 at 3:35 pm

This is horrible advice. Anyone who thinks spine mobility is a good thing doesn’t understand joints, the spine requires stability. I sincerely hope that no one actually tries some of these

40 weight training routines January 31, 2010 at 6:56 pm

I think bodyweight exercises are great for improving muscle endurance, strength and stamina. Many martial artists and MMA fighters swear by these sorts of routines as part of their workouts. The only concern I have is with the spine stretching exercise, ballistic type movements such as these have been shown to do more harm then good especially with inexperienced exercisers so should be avoided.

41 David February 9, 2010 at 2:34 pm

1 more way to be manly: NEVER wear a speedo like the one Atlas here is sporting.

42 Training Abs March 17, 2010 at 9:49 am

A routine like this strikes a great balance between flexibility, muscle strength and endurance. The bicycle crunch has been proven through research to be the most effective ab exercise for your core!

43 Hugh May 26, 2010 at 10:27 pm

Don’t worry about the deep knee bends killing your legs. Hindu wrestlers have done them for a zillion years without bad results.

44 Ken March 21, 2013 at 3:45 pm

if you’re training that hard ( to failure ) every single day, you’re not going to get nearly as strong, fast, enduring, as you would if you put an easy day or two in there and even a day off now and then. I know. I used to train much, harder than that plus run 3 to 6 miles a day. Learned the hard way.

45 Ken March 21, 2013 at 3:47 pm

I take that back. It’s a 10 minute workout. I totally lost that thought in my over eagerness to share my mistakes.

46 Rfg June 7, 2013 at 10:20 am

That back exercise is not so good, particularly the
“quickly” part. Ask an orthopedist; they’ll tell you that the single movement most likely to bring someone into an ER with a damaged disc is simply bending at the waist with knees locked, body-weight only, like tying your shoe….

47 Jukka Vuorinen June 16, 2013 at 2:57 am

When you (commenters (and author of articles also)) make claims, like “Training to failure is training your body to fail.” or “the deep knee bends hyperextend the knee joint to a dangerous extent” then PLEASE, source your information.

Don’t do it like like “many sources I have read say that that is a myth”, but like “If you don’t train for three weeks, your heart stroke volume changes -10%. (Friel: The triathletes training bible, page 27)”. (Sorry for unrelated example, but it was only with real source which I had available right now.) That way we all can have kind of smarter approach to this matter. Not just opinion/shit throwing contest.

Thank you everyone.

48 The One July 3, 2013 at 2:48 pm

Folks: “Training to Failure” -means and read carefully now… Continuing with the repetitions of that specific exercise till you can not do anymore.

49 Vladan August 3, 2013 at 5:38 am

you guys, training your body to failure simply means ”until you cant to another flex, another lift up or so”. It is not bad at all, because instead of following numbers and say ”do 15 today” you immediatly work with the natural strenght and resistance of your body. Its something like ‘being yourself” while you exercice. We are no speaking about lifts in the Gym, their is nothing else than your body to lift so no worries for super mega huge muscle aches. just little aches.

50 robert January 19, 2014 at 8:51 pm

“Great first workout” Recommed it to any age level. Robert,

51 Adam Finan January 30, 2014 at 5:10 pm

Does now one else think he is just doing Yoga?!

52 Santosh February 18, 2014 at 11:45 pm

I am a lean guy. i work out everyday. only push ups and pull ups. but the size of my shoulders is the same is there an exercise for broad shoulders that i can do at home???

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