I meet people all the time who want to get started training and building muscle, but they think that it takes too much time.
The fact is, you can get a lot of good quality results from brief workouts, if you keep the rest intervals low and hit the weights hard when you are working out.
Short and intense workouts have been my focus for quite some time now because it seems like there is more and more going on all the time. If it’s not one thing it’s another: People showing up to visit the baby, laptops crapping out, power outages, phone line is dead, septic system is all screwed up, and the list goes on and on.
Unfortunately a lot of people will see these things taking place and then just forget the workout and do something else. This is the worst mistake you can make.
Even if you are cramped for time, you can get a really good workout it. The key is that you have to plan. If you are just walking into the gym with no idea what the hell you are going to do, you are shooting yourself in the foot.
What’s crazy is, back when I had more free time, that is pretty much what I did, but now that time constraints are different, I can’t afford to do it anymore.
There are many things I do to plan my workout so even if I am limited on time I still get good quality work in. Now, keep in mind after all of this full body work, I also have a full Grip routine that I do in order to stay in top form for the next upcoming contest. Because I have to maintain that, I have to be even more concise with my full body workout on a day-to-day basis.
How to Plan Your Workout
No matter how cramped for time you are, you have to get a good warm-up. This is something I got away from for a while and injuries were hanging around too much for my liking. I feel better and can work out harder with a solid warm-up.
I roll out and do some mobility stuff prior to each workout, while also working with some light bands and low intensity TacFit stuff prior to every workout. I am usually sweating pretty good before I get into my session. I do not do stuff like jogging or bike prior to a workout. That stuff does nothing for me.
2. Write Your Workout Plan Down
Some people like to plan out a program for weeks, if not months ahead of time. This is a great way to stay on track and be able plan your training and monitor your progress. I don’t do this however…
Instead, I take a small pad of paper or fold up a piece of paper and stick it in your pocket and take it with me wherever I go. Either by my work station or in my car. If I have an idea of something new I want to try or maybe something new I see in an article or something like that, I make sure to jot it down, because I know there is no way in hell I am going to remember that lift by the time it is time to train. I am always writing stuff down.
3. Have a Goal
I don’t know about you, but I like to set a PR every time I lift, and I prefer those PR’s to be big singles. In the video clip I have for you, my focus for this particular routine was a PR in the Double Overhand Deadlift.
As I move through the session, all my warm-up sets are done with that end goal in mind. This keeps me motivated and keeps me pounding away for the next set.
On this day, I did not set a new PR, but each repetition I did felt great. For whatever reason my Grip wasn’t there at the beginning of the workout, but my hands felt great. My technique might have been off, might have been a bit dehydrated, who knows what the issue was, but I know what I want to do next time it’s time to pull.
4. Short Rest Periods
If you’re cramped for time the absolute worst thing you can do is monkey around between sets. You have to keep moving. I like to keep my rest periods limited to a minute at the most. Usually it is just getting a sip of water, re-chalking, and then I am back on the platform or in the cage to lift. Whatever you do, don’t mess around with endless rest periods. It robs you of productivity.
5. Keep the Lifting Area Clear
It may not always look it from my videos, but I try to keep the walk-way between stations and from the lifting area to the bathroom open so I am not tripping on stuff. Believe it or not, I am actually pretty short-tempered, and if I step on something sharp or stub my toe (I lift in just socks a lot of the time), it pisses me off and I get distracted and lose my momentum.
To continue to increase my productivity in my workouts, I just re-arranged my gym tonight so that there is more room and I can keep things more organized. I can’t wait to train tomorrow night in the “new environment” because I think things are going to be really smooth.
6. Super Sets / Giant Sets
Setting up two or even three movements in a row enables you to get more work done in a short amount of time. In the video below, for instance, you’ll see me hit some Shrugs followed immediately by High Pulls. My traps felt like they were going to pop and bleed out after that combination, so I definitely want to do that again.
7. Movement Testing
For the multi-joint movements, I still test my Range of Motion with the Biofeedback protocol. This takes less than two minutes to test a half dozen or so movements that I want to choose from. Some might say this doesn’t “save” time. I guess not, but what it does do is it helps me figure out what is working well for me on that given day, and since starting to do it I have not had my back seize up on me. Just something to think about for those who have nagging injuries.
To wrap things up, here is a video of a recent Back workout I did. These were the lifts, all of which I planned ahead of time with a Deadlift and Trap Focus:
- 1. Double Overhand Deadlift for Max
2. Double Overhand Deadlift for Triples (conventional and sumo)
3. Heavy Shrugs
4A. Lighter Shrugs
4B. Axle High Pulls
5. Mace Swings – 2 sets of 30
This workout took me about 45-minutes, after the warm-up. I think if I had not been going for a Double Overhand PR, I would have been even quicker, but I stretched out the rest periods a bit to chalk up really good.
If you are cramped for time, don’t think you need to skimp on your workout. If you plan right, you can get a lot of work done in a short time. Go into it with the right mindset and you should be able to get some serious work done.
A lot of you guys are probably already doing this kind of stuff to stay organized and productive in your workouts, but I know some people get side tracked. Hopefully this post has been helpful if the latter describes you.
Thanks and all the best in your training.
P.S. Check out Smitty’s AMD program for more info on shorter workouts, especially if you find yourself cramped for time due to your day-to-day grind = > Accelerated Muscular Development.
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