Can I get a great workout in 60 minutes or less?

September 7, 2013

Q: Do you have any ideas on how to make my workout faster and more intense? I like lifting weight and doing cardio afterward, but have begun to get bored. As of now I’m lifting four days a week with two body parts per day with eight to nine sets apiece. It usually takes me an hour and a half to get everything done, but I would prefer to finish in an hour. Is it possible to get an effective workout 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 so I have time to service my clients.

Pick exercises that work a variety of muscles

Long gone are the traditional workouts of one exercise per body part for those of us who are short on time. Instead, you need to pick movements that work groups of muscles for maximum efficiency, such as dips, pull-ups, walking lunges and dead lifts. These exercises work a variety of muscles at the same time, giving you much more bang for your buck and allowing you to get more results in less time.

Reduce rest periods

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

Condense your routine with super sets and tri sets

Add some spice to your routine and 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 to 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 consecutively with no rest in between. After you complete a set of each you may rest approximately 40 to 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 weightlifting 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, burpees, squat thrusts and side planks are sure to get your heart pumping and your body sweating without spending an extra 30 to 45 minutes on the cardio deck.

So instead of talking to your buddies at the gym, strap on your iPod, avoid eye contact and try one of these techniques. With a little practice, you should be able to get a great workout in half the time with twice the intensity.

  • 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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