Cutting your workouts down doesn’t have to mean selling your body short. Trim the fat off your session and you’ll be done in your lunch hour – with time for a post-gym bagel
1. Get Complex
A complex is any series of exercises where you don’t put the weight down between moves. “They’re a great way to cover every major movement pattern – push, pull, hinge, squat,” says W10 Performance trainer Olli Foxley. “Focus on movement quality – don’t rush.” Do the trickiest moves first, save the simple stuff for when you’re exhausted, and try to make it flow. Grab a barbell and do six reps of hang cleans, front squats, overhead presses and back squats. That’s one set – do three.
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2. Use EMOMs
Every Minute On the Minute is the easy way to keep yourself honest. “You can get a lot into a short workout,” says trainer Adam Wakefield. “Set a timer going, then do five pull-ups on the even minutes and ten triceps dips on the odd ones. After 20 minutes you’ll have accumulated 50 pull-ups and 100 dips. On lower-body day, do five front squats every minute for ten minutes, followed by ten minutes of five deadlifts.” Don’t plan any upstairs activities for afterwards.
3. Be Strict
“It’s easy to think you’re resting for 60 seconds when you’re closer to 90,” says strength coach Joe Lightfoot. “Over six sets, that adds up.” Get a stopwatch and don’t deviate. You’ll also get a metabolic boost from the higher work rate so you burn fat for hours.
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4. Harness EDT
Escalating Density Training is your shortcut to pain – and fast gains. “Pick two complementary exercises – say, flat bench and back squats – and load your ten-rep max on the bar for each,” says Foxley. “Do as many rounds of eight reps of each as you can in 15 minutes.” Done? You will be.
5. Upgrade Rests
“When you’re resting, perform some less demanding moves that won’t interfere with your working sets,” says Wakefield. Try low-intensity abdominal work (such as planks, crunches or leg raises) between leg sets, or band pull-aparts after bench or dumbbell presses. “The main thing to remember is that you shouldn’t be working hard enough for it to affect the quality of your main lifts.”
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From 2008 to 2018, Joel worked for Men's Fitness, which predated, and then shared a website with, Coach. Though he spent years running the hills of Bath, he’s since ditched his trainers for a succession of Converse high-tops, since they’re better suited to his love of pulling vans, lifting cars, and hefting logs in a succession of strongman competitions.
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