When I was footloose and fancy free, I had all the time in the world to train and I acted accordingly.
And before you ask, yes, dancing was a part of my pre-workout but I was no Kevin Bacon.
Now being a much older dude with a wife, kids, mortgage and all the trimmings, the demands on my time have grown exponentially. I imagine this has happened to you too, now that you’re all grown up.
Those meathead sessions of curls and presses are now a thing of the past because as you get older, you need to be smarter about your exercise time. However, you still need your exercise to be effective and that’s where training efficiency come in.
There is nothing special or magical about these exercise techniques below. They’re just a way of reorganizing your exercise to suit your schedule while still getting the results you deserve.
When you do have more time, you can bust a move like Kevin Bacon all you want.
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.
What’s not to love?
This type of training is best done two-three days per week with 48 hours rest in between trainings. All the exercises will be done for time. The work rest periods are as follows:
Beginner (you’re just 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 squat, Goblet, Sumo or Barbell squat
2. Push variation- Incline push up, Push up or Dumbbell bench press.
3. Single leg exercise- Reverse lunge, Forward lunge or Side lunge (Alternating sides).
4. Pull variation- Rack pull, Dumbbell bent over row or Standing cable row.
5. Core- Alternating side plank, Mountain climbers or Front plank.
You’ll complete two-four circuits (depending on how much you have in the tank on training day) for a total training time of between 10-20 minutes.
* Have all the equipment you need near so you don’t need to move much and to save time between exercises.
* Keep track of your reps and weight to measure improvement.
* Do as many reps as possible within your time frame with correct technique.
* Choose a weight which allows you to complete all your reps with good form.
* Choose different variations to keep things fresh.
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 you use is a great way to train with a minimum of fuss and fanfare.
There’s nothing magical about the 8 minutes and 8 rep protocol. You can change it to 5 and 5, 6 and 6 or 7 and 7 depending on how much time you have.
Complete each training 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 hearts content.
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.
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.
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)
1A. Dumbbell chest flies– 8 reps
1B. Single arm chest press– 8 reps on each arm
1C. Incline pushups– 8 reps
1A. Dumbbell pullover– 8 reps
1B. Bent over reverse flies– 8 reps
1C. Single arm row– 8 reps on each arm
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
A complex is a series of exercises done back to back where you finish the reps of one lift before going on to another and the barbell (or dumbbells) only leaves your hands or touches the floor when all the lifts are done.
Complexes are fantastic training method for fat loss and building muscle and will save you a ton of time. However, these are not for the faint of heart. They may look easy on paper but when you’re neck deep in one, it’s an entirely different matter.
Make sure you’re familiar with all the lifts before attempting any of the complexes below and keep the weight on the lighter side for the first set until you feel confident enough to crush it.
Note-Please warm up thoroughly before attempting these.
1. The bear barbell complex
- Power clean
- Front squat
- Push press
- Back squat
- Push press
Complex 8 (do 3 sets and rest 90-120 seconds between complexes)
Dumbbell 7-7-7 complex
- Overhead triceps extensions
- Hammer curl
- Overhead press
- Bent over row
- Split squat left leg
- Split squat right leg
- Sumo burpee
Note- You can find more complexes here.
Being short on time doesn’t mean you short yourself the benefits of exercise. Increasing your intensity and condensing your training will keep you looking, feeling and moving great.
And who knows? You may give Kevin Bacon a run for his money after all.