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4 Advanced Techniques For Fast And Effective Workouts

effective workouts
40338269 - sportive woman doing squatting with a barbell in the gym

Most of us lead extremely busy lives and finding 2 hours a day to exercise isn’t always feasible. But you want to get in great shape and know that exercising is a requirement… so, what can you do?

Fortunately, some of the very same advanced techniques I recommend for building muscle can also be manipulated to give you extremely effective workouts in a fraction of the time of most workouts.

In this article, I’ll discuss 4 of my favorite methods for achieving an effective workout in as little as 20 minutes a day. 

EMOM (Every Minute On The Minute)

When you’re planning to go to the gym for a strength workout, but you just don’t have enough time to train properly, one of my go-to methods is to use every minute on the minute (EMOM) sets.

Mostly, to use this method, you’ll want to use a compound movement such as the squat or the deadlift. Of course, you can use any exercise you please, but I always recommend using a compound movement since you’ll be able to apply the greatest amount of weight, but you’ll also stimulate the largest amount of muscle possible.

Once you’ve chosen the exercise, I recommend choosing a specific amount of weight, a specific number of repetitions and a total duration of the workout. For instance, if you have 20 minutes to workout, you can set up a squat workout to squat every minute on the minute for 2 repetitions, with 75% of your 1 rep max.

Here’s an example of how I would personally set up an EMOM Squat workout:

Exercise: Barbell Squat

Reps per set: 2
Weight – 75% of 1 RM (250 lbs.)
Duration: 10 minutes

Set 1: 2 Reps (total duration – 20 seconds).

Rest: 40 seconds (to the top of next minute).

Set 2: 2 Reps (total duration – 20 seconds).

Rest: 40 seconds (to the top of next minute).

Set 3: 2 Reps (total duration – 25 seconds).

Rest: 35 seconds (to the top of next minute).

Set 4: 2 Reps (total duration – 25 seconds).

Etc.

The cool thing about this method is that you are able to simultaneously work on strength and conditioning. Since you’re doing only 2 reps per set, you can go a little bit heavier. But due to the short duration and the high number of sets, you also get to train your recovery ability and overall conditioning.

In terms of getting a great workout in a short amount of time, the EMOM method is almost always a go-to method.

Rest-Pause

You’ve certainly heard me talk about rest-pause in other articles and that’s because it’s easily my favorite advanced training method; but it’s also because it is one of the most efficient and effective methods of training and it happens to be one of the fastest.

Rest-pause is unique because it allows you to lift heavy weight for significantly more repetitions that you normally would. For example, I can incline press 80 lb. dumbbells for around 10 reps per set. With rest-pause, I can increase that amount to 20. Essentially, you double your training volume per set, which means you make progress twice as fast.

Second, rest pause is extremely demanding in terms of conditioning. Much like EMOM, you’ll be able to work on strength and conditioning at the same time, in a short amount of time.

If you don’t have a lot of time to train, I suggest picking 2-3 of your favorite exercises for a few muscle groups. Something like 1 exercise for chest, 1 for back and 1 for legs is easily the best option. Here’s how I would complete a rest-pause, full body workout in 20 minutes or less:

Incline DB Press

  1. 80 lbs. x 10 reps
  2. Rest 20 seconds / 10 deep breaths
  3. x AMRAP
  4. Rest 20 seconds / 10 deep breaths
  5. x AMRAP
  6. Rest 20 seconds / 10 deep breaths
  7. x AMRAP

Leg Press

  1. 200 lbs. x 10 reps
  2. Rest 20 seconds / 10 deep breaths
  3. 200 lbs. x AMRAP
  4. Rest 20 seconds / 10 deep breaths
  5. 200 lbs. x AMRAP
  6. Rest 20 seconds / 10 deep breaths
  7. 200 lbs. x AMRAP

Bent Over Rows

  1. 95 lbs. x 10 reps
  2. Rest 20 seconds / 10 deep breaths
  3. 95 lbs. x AMRAP
  4. Rest 20 seconds / 10 deep breaths
  5. 95 lbs. x AMRAP
  6. Rest 20 seconds / 10 deep breaths
  7. 95 lbs. x AMRAP

Reverse Pyramids

Following suit of the other methods, reverse pyramid training (RPT) is a way for you to work on strength, build muscle and even improve conditioning at the same time. Personally, it’s one of my absolute favorite methods for fast results, even when I’m not pressed for time.

Traditionally when you workout, you start with lighter weight and higher reps and then move towards heavier weight and lower reps. This is for a number of reasons, including a proper warm up, as well as increasing the stress you place on your muscles to stimulate progress.

Reverse pyramid training is a bit different. With reverse pyramid training, your initial sets (after warming up) will start heavy, with lower reps. From there, your following sets will decrease weight, but increase repetitions. As you can see, you’ll start by training for pure strength and then move into more muscle building ranges and finally, more conditioning focused sets.

To use RPT, you’ll want to stick with full body compound movements such as the barbell squat. Know that you can certainly use RPT along with other types of exercise, but if you’re short on time, always use a compound movement. Here’s how I would progress on the barbell squat, using the reverse pyramid method:

Exercise: Barbell Squat RPT 

Warm up

Set 1: 275 lbs. x 3 reps

Rest: 2 minutes

Set 2: 225 x 6 reps

Rest: 2 minutes

Set 3: 200 x 10 reps

Rest: 2 minutes

Set 4: 185 x 15 reps

You can see here that the concept is pretty simple. Further, you can also see that you’ll experience a wide range of stimuli, ranging from heavy to light, allowing you to have a complete workout with very little time commitment.

Strength / Cardio Circuits

When I don’t have a lot of time, but want to get through a tough and effective workout, I always to try to pair a few strength exercises with more cardio-based exercises and pair them as a circuit. This, in my opinion, gives you the most bang for your buck in terms of exercise.

First, start with a strength-based exercise like the squat or deadlift. Personally, I like to use these exercises as starting points because they touch most of your body, rather than only one or two muscle groups.

After, pick a more conditioning-focused exercise. For me, I love using kettlebells in these movements because they allow for a full body workout, but in a way that you can really test your cardiovascular abilities.

To finish, I usually like to have a HIIT exercise, follow by a lower intensity one. For instance, I often like to pair battle ropes (HIIT) with a few minutes of low intensity cycling. That way I’m hitting both my upper and lower body for cardio.

Put together, this circuit of 4-5 exercises can be used for as many rounds as you complete. And if you’re really into it, you can document and try to improve the next time you’re short on time. Here’s an example of a fun, yet effective strength/cardio circuit:

  1. Barbell Deadlift x 5 reps
  2. Kettlebell Swings – 30 seconds AMRAP
  3. Kettlebell Goblet Squats x 15 reps.
  4. Battle Ropes x 30 seconds
  5. Stationary Cycle x 2 minutes at normal intensity.

Rest 2 minutes and repeat the cycle.

effective workouts

Advanced Techniques For Fast And Effective Workouts 

While these suggestions will work for everyone, I encourage you to try experimenting with your own ideas. Want to combine rest-pause and circuit training? What about reverse pyramids and EMOM? Anything you can think of will work if you put forth the necessary effort.

When you’re pressed for time, but need a great workout, these awesome techniques will help you achieve it.

About the author

Rudy Mawer, MSc, CISSN

Rudy has a 1st class BSc in Exercise, Nutrition & Health and a Masters in Exercise & Nutrition Science from the University of Tampa. Rudy currently works as a Human Performance Researcher, Sports Nutritionist and Physique Coach. Over 7 years he has helped over 500 people around the world achieve long last physique transformations.

He now works closely with a variety of professional athletes and teams, including the NBA, USA Athletics, World Triathlon Gold Medalists, Hollywood Celebrities and IFBB Pro Bodybuilders. If you would like to get in contact or work with Rudy please contact him on social media.

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