June 01, 2024 3 min read

By Shane Robert

Last week I shared a number of ideas for 5-minute fitness. These workouts are hard, fun in a masochistic sort of way, and pretty accessible. What they aren’t is long-term training plans. It is with long-term training plans that real progress is made. 

There are many ways to get a good workout in 30 minutes. Most don’t meet my requirements for getting stronger and building muscle, without needing additional gym time for cardio. Sure, come in and work up to one top set of 3 in the squat and you’ll see your squat grow. You won’t see much else, though.

Below I will outline a training template that I have used successfully for years with my 30-minute clients. It truly only takes 30 minutes if you do the work at the pace outlined. If you are quite chatty, like a few of my clients, then it may take 35 minutes.

WARM UP (the first 10 minutes)

A1. Push Ups: 10-15
A2. Swings or 45 Degree Back Ext.: 10-15
A3. Suitcase Carry: 20-50 yards depending on space, marching in place is okay if no space
A4. Goblet Squat: 5-10
A5. Suitcase Carry other side: 30 yards

Complete 3 rounds of this with no rest between movements or rounds.

STRENGTH WORK (the second 10 minutes)

See the table below for sets and reps that are basically straight from Dan John’s Easy Strength.

B1. Deadlift Variation
B2. Overhead Press Variation
B3. Chin Ups

Day 1

2x5 with the same weight 

Day 2

3x3 with escalating weight

Day 3

2x5 with the same weight 

Day 4

5,3,2 with escalating weight each set

Day 5

2x5 with the same weight

Day 6

3x3 with the same weight

Whether you come in 2 days a week or 6, this is the progression that we follow. Start light and don’t grind reps. Start with “stable weights,” which are weights that you can pretty much always do, even without a specific warm-up. When the weight feels light, add more. When it feels heavy, go a little lighter. 

Once you have completed all 6 days (which may take 3 weeks if you are only doing it twice per week) add a little weight to all of the weights used. Again, feel free to add on any day if the weights are flying, but don’t assume that will become your new stable weight the next time you come in. It is the little increase after each 6-day block that real, lasting progress is made.

Complete these movements as a circuit with minimal rest between movements.

HYPERTROPHY WORK (the final 10 minutes)

C1. Leg Press or Squat Variation (can be single leg if that is needed): 1x10 w/50% of 10RM, 1x10 w/75% of 10RM, 1xMAX REPS w/10RM 

C2. DB Bench Press: 1x10 w/50% of 10RM, 1x10 w/75% of 10RM, 1xMAX REPS w/10RM  

C3. Row Variation: 1x10 w/50% of 10RM, 1x10 w/75% of 10RM, 1xMAX REPS w/10RM 

For all of these movements, we employ theAPRE (auto-regulated progressive resistance exercise) style of programming from strength coach Bryan Mann, which is a tweak to the traditional Delorme PRE method which I’ve written about in the past. The difference is that it uses rep performance as an indicator of progression.

If the lifter gets less than 9 reps on the third set the weight will be lowered the following workout. If they get 9-11 reps the weight will stay the same; 12-16 reps will see a 5-10 pound increase, and anything higher will see a 10-15 pound increase. 

OPTION 2 - CONDITIONING (final 10 minutes)

Pick 1 or a combination of movements and go without rest for the 10 minutes

Farmers Carry
Suitcase Carry
Sled Drags
Sled Pushes
Sandbag Carries

I tend to do this or alternate each session between this and the hypertrophy work, for my clients who are mostly interested in fat loss. In that case, it is usually something like:

  1. Sled push 30 yards
  2. Suitcase or farmer carry 30 yards in the other direction
  3. Walk 30 yards to the sled
  4. Push the sled

Repeat as many times as possible for 10 minutes.

There it is. 30 minutes of solid work. It’s very time-efficient for busy people and is designed to cover most of the average person's fitness needs. All 3 exercise groups performed as circuits will ensure that you are getting a cardiovascular benefit while simultaneously building muscle and getting stronger at the same time. I can’t ask for much more from a 30-minute workout.

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