Use these 3 time saving trainings when time is an issue

A common reason for not exercising is you don’t have the time. Of course, there are other reasons like,

  • It sucks
  • You think exercising for longer is better
  • Don’t like getting sweaty
  • You don’t know what you’re doing
  • My job is demanding, and I have no energy
  • Bending down to pick up food from the floor counts as a squat right?

Anyway, I’m sure you get the picture and you have a few excuses reasons of your own. Ones you pull out of your head when you know you need to exercise but you’re looking for a way to get out of it.

Before and after becoming a trainer I did the same thing, even with a gym in my backyard. You’d think I would know better, but I don’t. I’m human like the rest of you.

So, when you’re using time as an excuse, use these time saving trainings to stay healthy, stay on track and to enjoy a little slice of pie guilt free. I did say a little.

A Few ‘Guidelines’ For These 3 Time Saving Trainings
  • The exercises will be either compound (work multiple muscle groups) or be cardio based.
  • Because you’re only exercising for a short time the intensity is higher.
  • Your rest periods between exercises will be shorter to keep the intensity high but you’ll rest longer if needed.
  • Equipment is nice but if you don’t have it, it is no big deal.

Here are 3 time saving trainings below to put the ‘I have no time to exercise’ to bed. You’ll have to come up with other excuses now. Bigger better ones.

1. Density Training

Density training is about increasing the amount of exercise (sets X reps) you do in a given amount of time. You’ll improve your ability to do more exercise in less time, which is also known as improving your work capacity.

Density training is a fantastic training method for fat loss. You get a better body and improve your fitness level all at the same time.


All the exercises are timed. The work rest periods are as follows:

Beginner (you’re starting out) 20 sec work/40 sec rest.

Intermediate (you’ve been exercising for 6 months) 30 sec work/30 sec rest.

Advanced (you’ve been getting after it for a year or more) 40 sec work/20 sec rest.

It’s a five-exercise circuit (one after the other) using the movements below.

Note- These are examples only, you can choose any variation you want

1. Squat variation – BW squatGoblet, or Sumo 

2. Push variation- Incline push upPush up or Dumbbell bench press.

3. Single leg exercise- Reverse lungeForward lunge or Side lunge(Alternating sides).

4. Pull variation- Single arm row Dumbbell bent over row or Standing cable row.

5. Core- Alternating side plankMountain climbers or Front plank.

You’ll complete two-four circuits (depending on how much time you have or how much you have in the tank) for a total training time of between 10-20 minutes.

2. Timed Sets

When you’re pushed for time, but you still want to get your sweat on, limiting your time, reps and the equipment is a great way to exercise with a minimum of fuss..

There’s nothing magical about the 8 minutes and 8 rep protocol I’m using below. You can change it to 5 and 5, 6 and 6 or 7 and 7 depending on how much time you have to exercise.  


Complete each trainings as a circuit, resting as little as possible between exercises. Rest 30-60 seconds at the end of each circuit and do as many rounds as possible within eight minutes.

Select a weight that allows you to complete all repetitions with good form. If you’re stacking trainings, rest 90-120 seconds between rounds and choose no more than three in the one session.

You can mix and match these to your heart’s content.

Note- These are examples only. You can choose any exercise variation you please.

Eight-minute legs

1A. Goblet Side Lunge– 8 reps on each leg

1B. Goblet squats- 8 reps

1C. Single leg hip extensions – 8 reps on each leg

Note- Use either a dumbbell or a kettlebell.

Eight-minute arms

1A. Overhead triceps extensions– 8 reps

1B. Concentration curls – 8 reps on each arm

1C. Triceps pushdowns– 8 reps

Note- You will need access to a cable machine and dumbbells. Keep them both close.

Eight-minute shoulders

1A. Band pull apart- 8 reps

1B. Band shoulder press- 8 reps on each arm

1C. Band In/Outs- 8 reps on each arm (four front raises/four lateral raises)

Need a resistance band

Eight-minute chest

1A. Dumbbell chest flies– 8 reps

1B. Single arm chest press– 8 reps on each arm

1C. Incline pushups– 8 reps

Eight-minute back

1A. Dumbbell pullover– 8 reps

1B. Bent over reverse flies– 8 reps

1C. Single arm row– 8 reps on each arm

Eight-minute core

1A. Front plank with shoulder tap– 8 reps on each side

1B. Side plank with hip dip– 8 reps on each side

1C. Reverse crunches – 8 reps

3. Bodyweight Circuits

The best tool you can use when time is short, and you want to burn calories before you hit the dessert bar is your own bodyweight. No gym required. Just a towel to wipe the sweat from your brow.

I’m a fan using your own bodyweight to stay in shape and to help clear stress and frustration, particularly when time is short. There is no real need for a warmup with these kinds of circuits. I usually take it easy in the first round as this is enough to get the blood moving to the right places. For example,

1A. Squat to Reverse Lunge – 5 reverse lunges on each side

1B.  Bent over T raise -15 reps

1C.  Push-ups -10 reps

Do 3-5 rounds with little rest between exercises and tri sets or do as many rounds as you can within 10 minutes.

Or if you want to get some cardio but haven’t time for the gym or you don’t have equipment, use your own body as a machine with the three exercises below.

Use the following work rest ratios.

10 seconds work/ 20 seconds rest

15 seconds/15 seconds

20 seconds/10 seconds

30 seconds/30 seconds

It’s more fun than the dreadmill.

Wrapping Up

Not having enough time is a common excuse for a lot of things we try to avoid, one of them being exercise. The truth is you don’t need a lot of time or equipment to reap the health benefits of exercise.

But there are two things you do need. A desire to get better and time to drop the excuses.

What are you waiting for? Those squats aren’t going to do themselves.

When you’re ready and you have the time, I have a free 4 week strength program to get you in better shape right here.   

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