Let’s face it. No matter how dedicated you are to training for your sport or health, sometimes you’re just pressed for time and can’t quite make a normal training session happen. That’s when you need quick workouts.
When you’re low on time, supersets are a surefire way to get the most bang for your buck. Pick two or three exercises in opposite movement pattern groups (e.g., push, pull, squat) and perform one set of each with minimal rest between sets. Rest once you complete all exercises for one set. By picking exercises that use opposing muscle groups, you avoid pre-fatiguing muscles you will engage in the next exercise.
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- 1a) Barbell Back Squat—3×12, 10, 8
- 2a) One-Arm Dumbbell Row—3×12
- 3a) Reverse Crunch with Deadbug—3×15
2. Compound Exercises
A compound exercise is any movement that involves multiple joints. Although single-joint exercises have their place, when you want a quick workout, compound exercises are the clear winner. By involving movement at more than one joint, you guarantee more muscle activation, so accomplish more in your quick workout.
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Examples: Barbell Deadlift, Power Clean, Barbell Front Squat
3. Every Minute on the Minute (EMOM)
Commonly referred to as EMOM’s, an every-minute-on-the-minute set is a timed set that makes things go a bit quicker and can greatly improve your work capacity and conditioning, as well as build strength. All you need to do is pick one exercise and use a moderate weight, one you can hit relatively easily for a set of three to five reps.
Once you pick your exercise and weight, grab a stopwatch. Start the timer and immediately do your first set. When you’re done, look at your timer and rest until the time hits one minute. As soon as it hits, begin your second set with the same number of reps. Check your timer, wait until it hits two minutes and begin again. Continue this pattern until you reach the time limit you decided on. Personally, I have done up to 10 minutes, but even a five-minute EMOM is very challenging when you use the correct weight.
Examples: Barbell Front Squat x5 minutes, x4 reps Every Minute on the Minute (EMOM)
4. Time Your Rest Periods
This may seem like a no-brainer, but make sure you have a stopwatch when you’re at the gym so you can time your rest periods and minimize time wasted wandering around “resting.” A good program has rest periods outlined for every set, so pay close attention to your programming. If not, a safe bet for rest periods is around a minute and a half, or 90 seconds, adjusting up or down depending on specific goals—intensity, weight used and other exercises you may superset with it.
5. Ditch the Phone
One thing that drives me absolutely nuts in the gym is when people spend as much time on their phone as they do training. Your social media and text messages can wait, I promise. Leave your phone in your bag—or if you are using it for music, turn it on “Do Not Disturb” and keep it glued to your side (not your hands) the entire time.
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6. Plan Your Workouts Ahead of Time
If you are following a specific program, this is already taken care of for you. If not, take five minutes of your free time the night before—or better yet, the weekend before—to write out your workout. The more specific the better. Write out your warm up, exercises, sets, reps, rest periods, everything. That way, as soon as you walk through the door, you can grab your notebook and start warming up.