Shorten Gym Time Without Sacrificing Results

Have you ever wondered how you can cut down gym time and still get results? Most workouts consist of a five-day split routine, which incorporates a good balance of compound and isolation exercises. While this approach is popular for a reason, it does demand a good chunk of time that can be challenging to maintain.

Achieving results doesn’t have to require countless hours at the gym. Below I have created a plan that consists mainly of compound exercises and supplemented with an isolation circuit and plyo HIIT (plyometric high intensity interval training).

Compound exercises are multi-joint movements that work several muscles at one time, therefore allowing you to perform less exercises while targeting multiple muscle groups. Isolation (iso) exercises involve only one joint or one muscle group. Iso training is a great way to target lagging areas to create an overall balanced physique.

Both have their benefits but performing compound exercises is responsible for majority of your results. Focusing more on this allows you to cut out unnecessary sets and reps and compact your workout.

Another way to shorten up your workout is with HIIT instead of long dreadful steady-state cardio sessions. HIIT is proven to torch fat and rev up your metabolism. I like to combine plyometics (jump movements) into my high intensity training as this is a great way to increase strength and burn tons of calories.

Below is an example of a weekly workout plan that may be followed for 3-4 weeks before making necessary changes. Days 1, 2, and 3 are approximately a 45-minute workout (depending on equipment availability) and day 4 is approximately 30 minutes. If you want to increase your weekly caloric expenditure, you may perform an additional day of HIIT.

SS= Super set, TS=Triple set

Day 1: Chest & Back (compound focused) & HITT | 3 sets x 12 reps
(30-60 sec. rest between sets)

  • Barbell bench
  • Barbell deadlifts
  • SS: Dumbbell incline press / Dumbbell back row
  • SS: Cable chest fly / Wide lat pull down
  • HIIT: 3 rounds (see Plyo HIIT plan below)

Day 2: Legs & Shoulders (compound focused) | 4 sets x 12 reps
(30-60 sec. rest between sets)

  • SS: Barbell squat / Dumbbell Arnold press
  • SS: Leg press machine/ Barbell push-press
  • TS: Pre-loaded barbell walking lunges / Pre-loaded barbell upright rows

Day 3: Arms & Core Circuit (iso focused) & HIIT | 3 rounds, 12-15 reps. 

  • Dumbbell lateral raises
  • Dumbbell bicep curls
  • Dumbbell tricep kickbacks
  • Plank up-downs
  • Plank hold (30 sec.)
  • Cable rope hammer curls
  • Cable rope tricep pushdowns
  • Cable rope crunch
  • Standing cable axe chop
  • HIIT: 3 rounds (see plyo HIIT plan below)

Day 4: Plyo HIIT Circuit | 4 rounds, 40-60 sec. each exercise. Rest 2-3 minutes between each completed round.

  • Explosive step ups
  • Lateral bench shuffle
  • Ice skaters
  • X-jumps
  • Pop squats

If the HIIT routine puts too much stress on your joints you may swap this with an alternate interval training using a cardio machine. Example: Stationary bicycle; one minute high (challenging) level and 30 seconds lower level. Repeat this cycle for a total of 20 minutes.

This form of training can be applied to any cardio machine. The goal is to challenge yourself by elevating your heart rate to your max zone for up to 60 seconds followed by a rest period or reduced rate for 30-60 seconds, then repeat for a total of 15-20 minutes.

By Claudia Virgil