8 tips for a quick workout in the gym

Many people find it hard to dedicate enough time to train in the gym, specially when they try to squeeze their training during their lunch hour. You may have little time for training but it is important to make it count. The key to keep your workout intensity high is to cut down on volume and make every rep and set count. So here are a few ways for a short but productive workout.

1. Whole body workout

If you are new at lifting weights, this is without doubt the quickest and best way to power through a workout session and reap plenty of benefits. Why? Because you only need to perform a minimum of 3 exercises to work thoroughly your whole body. They are the squat for legs, the deadlift for the back and the benchpress for the chest. Workout over. If you have spare time, up the number of sets or add more exercises targeting the arms and shoulders.

2. Favour machines

There is always this great debate on machines versus free weights. Make machine exercises count here: the advantage in this case is that they take very little setting up. Adjust the seat height, set the pin to the correct weight and you’re off. And if you need changing weights, it’s only a matter of moving the pin instead of removing weight plates from the bar and replacing them with heavier ones. I’m definitely a big fan of using machines when it comes to saving time.

3. Supersets

Why rest between sets when you are working different muscles? Or even the same muscles? Use supersets to cut down on wasted time between sets without actually cutting down on rest time. If you superset a tricep exercise with a bicep exercise, your biceps rest as you work your triceps and vice versa. If you superset exercises for the same bodypart, you cut down on rest time but increase workout intensity.

4. Giant sets

Giant sets are an extension of supersets why limit yourself to 2 exercises back to back, do 3, 4 or 5 exercises one after the other with no rest time. The intensity will be incredible. If you use machines throughout, you’ll barely have time to catch your breath. That’s one sure way to finish all your exercises within a very short span of time.

5. HIT

High Intensity Training. Mike Mentzer was a big advocate and Dorian Yates won several Mr Olympia title using this training technique. HIT is simply performing 1 or 2 sets at most per exercise and 1 or 2 exercises at most per body part yet going very heavy and concentrating on technique and form to make sure the intensity of your workout is high. That’s seriously cutting down on volume.

6. Go heavy

There are broadly-speaking two ways to train in the gym: light or heavy. When working light, you need to do many reps and sets to exhaust the muscle. You focus on muscle endurance, definition and increased blood flow and nutrients to each bodypart. By working heavy, you do few sets and reps in return as you exhaust the muscles very quickly. People work heavy to add muscle mass and strength.

7. Make every rep count

That means:

  • Concentrate even when you are warming up;
  • Do the full range of motion;
  • Keep to strict form and
  • Don’t chit chat to others.

8. Used advanced training techniques

Use advanced techniques to cut down on volume yet achieve the same intensity. We already mentioned supersets and giant sets. Try negative reps at the end of a set instead of having to do another one, or partial reps. Get a spotter to help you with forced reps. With an exercise like the concentration curl, you can use your free hand to help the working arm.


Obviously, don’t try all of these at the same time! For beginners, a whole body workout is already very intense and quite exhausting. Most of all, use your mind and concentrate on your exercises. Make them really work for you.

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