The other morning I was riding a bear through the forest. I was accompanied by a tiger that had my assistant mounted on his back. We were destined for a mountain that housed all the hidden treasure. My bear had a machine gun mounted to his head and I carried a lightsaber. It was excellent. We were guaranteed destruction for anyone who dare cross our paths.
Then my alarm clock went off at 4:25am. Damn it.
It was one of those days where I had a ton to get done, which included starting the day with a training session. After that session I had just barely enough time to squeeze in a workout. Coming off the holidays and a long weekend there was no way I was gonna skip a workout though.
I started my workout at 6:36 and 22 seconds. Right after my client walked out of the gym.
35 minutes and I managed to get 3 circuits and 27 total sets of work in. More sets than the average dude manages to get in during their marathon arm day.
Even better than the fact that I got my workout in so quickly? I had a better workout because of it.
Which really begs the question, do you need to spend over an hour on a workout?
In my opinion, the answer is almost always “no way José” for the average person out there.
An hour is the universally accepted workout timeframe. Nobody even questions it.
Group fitness classes last an hour. Personal Training sessions seem to always go by the hour. Most people don’t like to leave the gym unless they’ve put in a solid hour.
Those lame motivational phrases that try to guilt you into working out even use an hour.
So how can you get away with working out under an hour and come away with a better workout?
Plain and simple, setting a time limit on your workout forces you to move. You may not be able to chat in between reps, or take 63 trips to the water fountain – flexing along the way. You might even have to actually group a few different exercises together and perform them in a circuit.
This may not even be new news to you.
You’ve probably had a day where you were absolutely crunched for time, but by golly you’re gonna get a workout in. So you get to the gym, forgo the small talk, and get to work. Not only are you completely beat after, but you have this goofy smile on your face that can only pop up when your dazed from endorphin exuding exhaustion.
That is the beauty of having to work out fast. Really fast. Which is precisely why I like to work out in under an hour. It forces every single workout to be like this.
But why workout this way? And what do you even call this?
There’s a few different terms for what I’m describing. Before we start debating semantics though I need to clarify exactly what I’m talking about.
- I’m not talking about a workout where you run really hard on the treadmill for 30 minutes, though that is effective.
- I’m not talking about doing 30 minutes of curls. Or 30 minutes of squats, though that is awesome.
I’m talking about lifting weights, fast. Really fast. Not focusing on a traditional body part split like so many programs give you. Instead, focusing on full body workouts that hit nearly every single major muscle group.
Some people call this Metabolic Resistance Training. Some call it Circuit Training. I like to call it High Intensity Resistance Training or Strength Circuits. All mean the exact same thing though.
It’s basically a collection of circuits, each circuit containing 2-4 exercises, and you performing those exercises in succession. Not taking a break until you’ve completed one round of work. Even those breaks won’t last as long as you would normally imagine. Maybe 90 seconds max.
Why does this work so well?
Without getting into too many of the gory details, there are a few reasons why this style training works best for nearly every single person out there.
• It condenses training time, forcing you to be more efficient.
• The exercise selection that accompanies full body workouts, mixed with the condensed rest periods creates a more favorable hormonal environment for fat loss and muscle gain.
• Due to the metabolically demanding nature of the workouts you burn far more calories than a normal workout delivers.
• The EPOC is much higher, which means you’re burning calories at a much higher rate for hours after working than you normally would.
What does all of this mean?
It means that you become a freaking fat burning machine with the strength to walk outside and hurl cars down the street with one hand.
Or in laymen’s terms, it means that you spend way less time in the gym getting the results that you’ve been trying to get for over 10 years now. You’ve just been goin about it all wrong, man.
Does this really work for everyone?
Yes, it really does work for everyone. Of course, there are certain caveats to this style training and the people who might implement it. This style isn’t ideal for those who might look to become power lifters or compete in strongmen competitions. That style of near maximal lifting is so taxing that generally resting 2-5 minutes between one set of one exercise is ideal.
This also isn’t ideal for those who are only focused on pure muscular gainz. Say for example you are a bro who has been training for a few years. Bulking season naturally rolls around during the winter, and you’re trying to grow your guns from 18 inches to 20 inches. Well, I wouldn’t implement this style training then. You’d do much better incorporating heavy strength lifts and traditional bodybuilding style workouts. And also eating anything and everything in sight. Because that’s how bros bulk.
However, the majority of people will see some sort of muscular and strength gains from this style training. That can be thanks to the sheer amount of work that someone will produce during the short amount of time, as well as the favorable hormonal environment that supports growth and fat loss.
Another one of the beautiful things about this type of training, aside from it making you beautiful, is that anyone can do it. Training in a circuit is completely scalable to the capabilities of the trainee. If you’re strong as Chewbacca, you’ll probably be able to play around with a bit more weight than others. If you’re more like Yoda and have spent most of your time holed up on Dagobah, well this might be more of a challenge.
If you’re new to fitness, don’t expect that you’ll have to get thrown into the same circuit as someone who has been training this style for 10 years. You might do the same exercises but the reps, the weight, the time between exercises, and other variables can be changed to make it more manageable.
Every heard of the dirty C word?
Not that C word. I’m talking about Crossfit. Crossfit might be the best known example of this style training. Am I advocating doing workouts where you have to snatch your bodyweight as many times as possible in 30 minutes? Hell nah.
I am advocating their style of continually moving, and placing an emphasis of having multiple exercises going at a time. Creating a more efficient training program that gets you in, gets you working, and gets you the hell out.
There are also plenty of small group training gyms popping up all over that focus on this same style of training. Orange Theory Fitness being just one that comes to mind quickly.
People are busy. Americans have a special nack for making sure that we brag about busy. That we wear our busy as a badge of honor. As an American I’m no different, and that means I admittedly balk at the idea that I need to spend hours in the gym each day to get the results I want.
I hate that idea, and I work in a gym. I can’t imagine what it’s like for people who struggle to get to the gym just after work and before dinner. Their job should be easier. They should quit being disappointed with what the elliptical and treadmill aren’t giving them. A program based on High Intensity Resistance Training is exactly what the doctor ordered. Serving up plenty of extra time in the day, and a slimmer waistline. It’s a win win.