Seven ways to get a great workout in 60 minutes or less

February 16, 2013

Q: On most days I have plenty of time to work out but there are a couple days a week when work gets crazy and I only have an hour for exercise. Do you have any suggestions on how I can condense my workouts and get them done in 60 minutes or less?

A: You can get an intense workout in 60 minutes or less, but you have to streamline your approach. Here are some techniques I use to keep my workout short, intense and to the point.

Reduce rest periods

The average person rests approximately three minutes between sets, which means that doing three sets of eight different exercises will take 72 minutes, not including actual time lifting weights. Train your body to take 30-40-second rest periods between sets and reduce your workout time by more than a third.

Pick exercises that work a variety of muscles

Traditional workouts include exercises that work one body part at a time, but for those of us in a hurry, this approach simply won’t work. Instead, pick movements that work groups of muscles for maximum efficiency, such as dead lifts, squats pull-ups and power cleans. These exercises work a variety of muscles at the same time, giving you much more bang for your buck and allowing you to get better results in less time.

Condense your routine with super sets and tri sets

Shorten your time in the gym by adding super sets and tri sets. Super sets are grouping two different exercises for opposing muscle groups back to back with no rest. A good example would be doing a set of push-ups followed by seated cable rows. Rest approximately 40-50 seconds and repeat again until the desired amount of sets is complete. Tri sets means grouping three exercises in a mini circuit and doing one set of each with no rest in between. After you complete a set of each, rest 40-50 seconds and repeat the process. Try setting up three different tri sets for a great day’s workout in a short period of time.

Add cardio to your weight-lifting routine

If you don’t have extra time to spend on the cardio deck, try injecting high-energy exercises into your weight-training routine. Exercises such as mountain climbers, jump rope, sprints, burpees and squat thrusts are sure to get your heart pumping and your body sweating without spending an extra 30-45 minutes on the cardio deck.

Triple sets with core movement

Working abdominals was never my favorite thing until I finally realized you don’t have to wait till you’re exhausted at the end of your workout to begin working them. Instead, I began sandwiching them between the two body parts I was working and received better results in a shorter workout. A good example would be on chest and bicep day, I would do incline dumbbell chest presses for 10 reps, bicycle crunches for 25 reps and straight bar curls for 10 reps, rest for 45-50 seconds and then repeat for two more triple sets. To my surprise, not only did I get much stronger, more developed abs, but also a quick, more intense weight-training workout that could be done in half the time.

Interval training

Most fitness professionals would agree that interval training is one of the best ways to burn fat, because it forces the body to constantly adapt to the workload, but it’s also a way to get more results without doing long, drawn-out sessions. To perform interval training, simply alternate moderate-intensity cardio with bursts of higher intensity. A good example would be walking for three minutes and jogging for 30 seconds for beginners or jogging for three minutes and sprinting for 30 seconds for those with higher fitness levels. Interval training is also great because it keeps your mind occupied and makes the session seem twice as fast.

Metabolic interval training

Metabolic interval training is an intense combination of weight lifting, calisthenics, body weight exercise and different forms of cardio that gives you the benefit of building muscle while increasing muscular and cardiovascular endurance. A couple sets of these babies and you don’t need to do cardio, saving time and reducing your workout to 60 minutes or less. A good example would be a set of dead lifts, push-ups, pull-ups, jump rope and bicycle crunches in consecutive order, resting for approximately two minutes and repeating the process for the desired amount of sets.

  • Chris Antonio is a personal trainer and former world-class weightlifter. He has been lifting for more than 20 years and has trained a wide variety of clients ranging from All-American athletes to the average person trying to get into shape. To send a question to the Ask the Trainer column, email Chris at or check out

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