These Simple 2-Step Exercises Are the Very Best Way To Build Strength Quickly

Woman doing exercise to build strength quickly

If strength training is not already part of your workout routine, it can be difficult to know how to start incorporating it. The side of the gym with people lifting weights can seem a lot more intimidating than just hopping on a treadmill or exercise bike.

Here’s what’s important to know: Strength training is actually easy to learn. In fact, personal trainers say that there are very effective exercises for building strength quickly that only require two steps. If you want to start incorporating strength training into your routine, keep reading for two of the best two-step exercises to try.

Related: Research Shows That People Who Do Strength Training Exercises Live Longer—Start With These 10 Easy Workouts

Why Strength Training Is Important

While aerobic workouts are a great way to burn calories and build endurance, New York-based celebrity fitness trainer and Irish Yank Fitness App creator Daniel McKenna says that strength training has many benefits too. For example, many runners neglect strength training, but McKenna says building strength can help runners’ legs become stronger so they can continue to run without injury.

If you’re trying to lose weight, McKenna says that strength training can help because it boosts metabolism and burns fat. Fitness trainer Kinsey Diment, NASM, agrees, saying that strength training leads to weight loss more than aerobic exercise, a claim scientific research backs up as well.

“Muscle is our most calorically expensive tissue. When we strength train, our body will continue burning calories 12 to 24 hours after our lift,” Diment explains. “When we run, our watches may register that we have burned more calories than our strength day because it is based on heart rate, but we immediately stop burning the second we stop cardio.”

She adds that our bodies also adapt to the energy expenditure of running, which means that running without strength training can slow metabolism because the body is converting energy and breaking down lean muscle to use as fuel. “At this point, the calorie count on our watch is pretty much moot,” she explains.

Diment says that another important benefit of strength training is increasing bone density. She explains that this becomes increasingly important as we age since the body starts losing bone density at age 35.

Related: The #1 Strength Training Exercise for Bone Health, According to Personal Trainers for Seniors

Two Simple 2-Step Strength Training Exercises To Get You Started, According to Personal Trainers

Ready to start strength training? Diment says one of her favorite exercises is a step-up, which she shows how to do in the video below.

To do it, start by standing on the floor facing the step you will be using. This can be a weight-lifting bench or plyo box. Then, place one food entirely on the weight-lifting bench or plyo box. Squeezing the glutes, step up and balance at the top. (If this is too tricky for you at first, you can set your foot down for more stability.) Hinging at the hips, slowly lower down to the floor. “You can either alternate legs, or if you want more intensity, stay on one leg for 8 to 12 reps before switching to the second leg,” Diment suggests.

Diment says that the step-up is a great exercise for building quad, glute and core strength. It also helps with balance. “It’s incredibly functional because we perform this move in our day-to-day life,” she adds.

Diment recommends doing this strength-building move twice a week to really experience its benefits.

Related: What to Know About Functional Strength Training, the Type of Exercise That Makes Everyday Life 10 Times Easier 

McKenna offers another two-step strength-building exercise: Bulgarian split squats followed by leg extensions.

“First, you still start with Bulgarian split squats. This exercise will help build each leg’s strength individually,” he says, adding that it primarily focuses on the quads and glutes. You will need an exercise bench or chair to do this move. To do it, stand about two feet in front of the bench or chair with your feet hip-distance apart. Then, place your right foot on the bench or chair, either tucking your toes or keeping your foot flat; whatever is more comfortable. Engage your core and lower your right knee to the floor. Your front knee should form a 90-degree angle as you do so. Then, slowly come back to the starting position. Switch sides and repeat after 8 to 12 reps.

“Step two of this two-step exercise is supersetting the Bulgarian split squats with leg extensions,” McKenna says. “This focuses on engaging the muscles at the front of the thigh, particularly the rectus femoris and vastus muscles.”

For this part, you will need a dumbbell if you don’t have access to a leg extension machine. To do it with a dumbbell, sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Place a dumbbell vertically between your feet. Slowly straighten your legs until they are fully extended out in front of you, continuing to hold the dumbbell between your feet as you do so. Slowly come back to the starting position. Repeat 10 to 12 reps.

McKenna says he likes this two-step exercise move because it helps build lower body strength that’s important to use in everyday life. He recommends doing it twice a week for maximum results.

As you can see, strength training doesn’t need to be complicated. These two, two-step exercises are a great place to start. Simply by doing them a couple times a week, you’ll see the benefits carry over into your aerobic exercises as well as see many everyday chores and tasks get easier. If you want to get stronger, this is the perfect way to begin!

Next up, here are 22 ways to incorporate cardio into your workout or strength training routine.