3 Short, Intense Workouts That Build Muscle

Build muscle without spending hours in the weight room with these three short, intense workouts designed to build muscle.

Chauncey Billups Side Plank

In terms of sports skill development, the saying "practice makes perfect" makes "perfect" sense, because frequent repetition helps reinforce certain plays, correct mistakes and enhance muscle memory.

However, that same formula does not hold true in the weight room. Why? Because your body needs adequate time to recover in order to build muscle, and performing prolonged workouts on a daily basis continually breaks down muscle, which can lead to over-training, whose symptoms include chronic soreness and minimal size gains. In fact, intense exercise for more than an hour may cause excessive muscle breakdown.

Instead, take the "less is more" approach in the weight room by performing 30-minute, high-intensity, full-body workouts that incorporate multi-joint exercises. Allow adequate recovery time to build muscle—at least 24 to 48 hours between weight room sessions—and perform low-intensity activities such as stretching, brisk walking or light jogging on non-lifting days.

Try the following three-day routine, allowing 24 hours of recovery time between workouts. Start with a Dynamic Warm-Up and finish each workout with a three-minute cool down, comprising upper- and lower-body static stretches. The high-intensity weight training exercises should take 20 to 25 minutes, allowing for 30-second rests between sets. Have a pre-workout protein/carbohydrate snack about 45 minutes before exercise and a post-workout high carbohydrate/moderate protein snack within 15 to 30 minutes after cool-down stretches. Do all workouts using 80 percent of 1RM per exercise for hypertrophy (muscle-building).

Workout 1

1. Medicine Ball Push-Up and Single-Arm Dumbbell Row Superset (3x10)
2. Barbell Upright Row and Bar Dip Superset (3x8)
3. Leg Press (4x12)
4. Squat Thrust (2x10)
5. Prone Plank (2x60-second hold)
6. Side Plank (2x60-second hold)

Workout 2

1. Deadlift (4x8)
2. Squat Thrust (4x12)
3. Pulldown and Push Press Superset (4x10)
4. Push-Up and Superman Superset (3x8)
5. Crunch and Med Ball Russian Twist Superset (2x10)

Workout 3

1. Dumbbell Single-Leg Squat (3x12)
2. Farmer's Walk (40 yards and back)
3. Bench Press (4x8)
4. Pull-Up and Bench Dip (3x10)
5. Prone Plank-Side Plank Combo (3x10-second hold each exercise)


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: PROTEIN | BENCH PRESS | BUILD MUSCLE | WORKOUT PLAN | WORKOUTS | EXERCISE | SPORTS | BENCH | PRESS | RECOVERY | INTENSITY | ACTIVITIES | CRUNCH | WEIGHT TRAINING