“I don’t have time to exercise! How do I get the most out of my short 30min workout?”

If this is you, you’ll want to read this article!

Most of us mortals don’t aspire to be elite athletes or bodybuilders nor do we have much time to spare! – so it’s essential that the time we do spend working out is maximized and used to its full potential. Here are 5 rules you must follow to ensure you are getting results if you’re doing a short workout.


1st rule of a short workout: Think intensity

Is your workout leaving you sweating at the end? If the answer is no, then you’re either one of those humans who just don’t sweat, or your workout isn’t intense enough! If you want a quick workout, it needs to be intense!

Here are some numbers you will want to keep in mind when doing weight training

  • 10-12 reps: hypertrophy training (building muscle)
  • 12-15 reps: endurance training (training your muscles to work for a longer period of time)

For the ladies, I recommend 15 reps if you are starting out, but a few sets of 12 reps won’t harm you. If you are going for weight loss, hypertrophy training is for you, because building muscle means you will burn more calories when you are not working out.

So ask yourself what your number is! And remember to count your reps as you’re doing them!


2nd rule of a short workout: Use the right weight

Sooooo many people exercise with the WRONG weight. It’s painful to watch!! So here are some guidelines:

  • Lats, pecs, quads, glutes – BIG muscles
  • Delts, biceps, triceps, inner/outer thighs – smaller, baby muscles

So it’s totally ok to pick up a heavier weight when training big muscles – don’t be afraid of it. For chest and back I even go up to 25lb if I’m feeling ambitious.

On the other hand, you need to use a lighter weight for smaller muscles like your shoulders and arms. For example I use 5lb or 7.5lb for triceps (depending on how many reps I am doing).


3rd rule of a short workout: Think BIG

If you are doing a total body routine, you want to focus on large muscle groups and do exercises that target as many muscles at the same time as possible. These are called compound exercises.


The push-up: an awesome compound exercise

Here are some more examples:

  • Squats
  • Back rows
  • Lunges
  • Chest presses
  • Lat pull-downs
  • Burpees

The saying holds true: go big or go home.


4th rule of a short workout: Exercise muscle groups that work together


If you want to make your workouts intense and short, my number one advice is to work agonist muscles. Agonist muscles are muscles that work together. Here’s an example: when you are doing a push-up, you are working your chest muscles, your anterior deltoids, and your triceps. So to work agonist muscles, you would, for example, do a chest exercise (ex: push-ups) then follow up with a shoulder exercise (ex: front raises) and then a tricep exercise (ex: tricep kickbacks)

My absolute favorite pairings when I am doing a split routine are chest + triceps, and back + biceps. All I need is 30min before my arms feel like jello, and I get a huge burn.


5th rule of a short workout: Do exercises in the right order

Doing a random sequence might work at the beginning. But eventually you will notice zero changes and you will get frustrated. The key is in the intensity, but also in the order of the exercises, and how they are paired.

If I am doing a total body workout, I like to start from the top and move my way down. I also leave core to the end.

  • Mini chest + triceps sequence (4 sets of alternating chest and triceps exercises)
  • Mini back + biceps sequence (4 sets of alternating back and biceps exercises)
  • Mini shoulder sequence: 3 sets of 3 shoulder exercises
  • Mini legs circuit: 4 sets of various squats and lunge-based exercises
  • Core: 2 sets of 3 exercises targeting the front side of the abs, obliques and lower back

The first 2 sets of each mini circuit, I go for 15 reps, because my muscles are still warming up. The last 2 sets, I go for 12 reps for the extra challenge. The whole sequence takes me ~45min. For a shorter 30min workout, I just do half the number of sets.


A final word

If you want to do shorter workouts, and maximize your results, you need to train at the right intensity, with the right weights, and having exercises in the right order. Follow these rules and you are guaranteed to get results and get a great workout done in 30min or less!

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