Time Efficient Workout Strategies For Busy People

Workouts for busy people are specifically focussed on being time efficient as the people they’re designed for often have very little spare time.  Unfortunately, what should be their strength is often the thing which makes them completely useless!

The reason is, the people who put them together try to push the boundaries of time so much that they end up short-changing the effectiveness of the workout itself.

So whilst you don’t need to spend hours everyday working out, try to push the limits too far and you won’t be able to get an effective workout done.

For busy people this is a mortal sin.  After all, the time investment demands results so completely wasting their time isn’t good enough.

In this article we’ll take a look at time-efficient workout strategies which busy people can use to get maximum results in minimum time!

What’s The Minimum Workout Duration?

4 minute workouts based on the Tabata studies are popular and whilst it’s true the studies did show great results in just four minutes there’s a problem….

99% of people can’t work hard enough to actually do Tabata

And while their workout will be intense, it’ll be more like high intensity interval training (HIIT) which won’t get the job done in just 4 minutes.

Realistically, you need at least 30 minutes.  This will allow you to maintain strength by giving you a proper warm up and adequate rest between sets.

What Exercises Are The Most-Effective?

Compound exercises are going to deliver the most “bang for your buck” as they work multiple muscles at once.

For this reason you should make these the focus of your workouts and drop isolation exercises as much as possible.

The choice is obvious, work one muscle at a time with a lighter load or work multiple muscles at the same time with heavier loads.

Here are the best exercises:

The most important 3 exercises

Other Key Exercises

  • One Arm Dumbbell Row/Barbell Rows
  • Weighted Tricep Dips
  • Pull/Chin Ups

You’ll note that I didn’t include direct bicep training, this is intentional.  Doing weighted chin ups with a weighted belt around your waist and rowing exercises work your biceps more than enough.

Don’t waste time doing more work, muscle growth and muscle maintenance is the result of intensity (e.g. weight on the bar) not the volume of work you do.

Sample Workout For Busy People

So how do you use these exercises in a workout that gets the job done in just two sub-30 minute workouts per week?

Here’s a template I would use:

Workout A
Bench Press – 2 Sets of 6 reps – rest 3 minutes between sets
One Arm Dumbbell Row – 2 sets of 8 reps – rest 2 minutes between sets
Weighted Tricep Dips – 2 sets of 6 reps – rest 2 minutes between rest

Workout B
Squats – 2 sets of 6 reps – rest 3 minutes between sets
Deadlift – 2 sets of 6 reps – rest 3 minutes between sets
Chin/Pull Ups – 2 sets of 8 reps – rest 3 minutes between sets

The Key To Making Any Workout Effective

The workout is simply the tool, how hard you work and your overall progression dictates the results you’ll get.

To ensure you get the best possible results here’s what you need to do:

  • Increase the weight used – Progressive resistance is the fundamental principle of effective workouts.  Choose a weight heavy enough that you fail after the target reps, next week increase the weight by a small increment and record the number of reps you do.  If you can’t do the full target reps, start with the same weight next week and shoot for an extra rep.  You’ll always be getting better and stronger than the week before and this is the key.
  • Warm up properly – Don’t jump straight into the heavy stuff in order to save time, you’ll be weaker and more susceptible to injury.  Warm up slowly by following a proper gym warm up and you’ll be stronger and you’ll have practiced correct form with the lighter weight.
  • Don’t cut short rest periods – When you’re working with strength training exercises such as those in this workout you need to rest between sets properly.  It takes a minimum of 3 minutes for your body to get ready for another all-out set, if you try to lift heavy weights with less rest your strength will suffer.  Less strength means progressive resistance is compromised and you’ll stay at the same weight for weeks on end and progress will grind to a halt!

Use these tips and strategies to ensure that any workout you do delivers the results you need as quickly as possible.  If your workout has you lifting lighter weights with isolation exercises you’re likely to be wasting your time.

Focus on the heavier, strength training exercises and get more done in less time.  Ensure you’re diet is set up accurately and the 80/20 principle of effort to work will be reversed!

You’ll be able to reap 80% of the benefits from just 20% of the effort and as a busy person myself there’s nothing more you can ask for!

Skye Khilji is the editor of Free Workout Plans For Busy People, home of workouts that work around YOUR busy life!


I'm Skye and I'm the editor of www.free-workout-plans-for-busy-people.com I live in London, England and work in the insurance industry. I started the site to help people balance their busy lives and careers with working out and getting the body they want. I share the most time-efficient workout and diet methods from around the web and try to help people find their workout/life balance. I tend to align myself with less mainstream dietary approaches as they seem to work better for most people and I try to set realistic expectation for people. The dieting media seem to make people think they'll get ripped on 2 weeks or build 30 pounds of muscle in a month but the reality is it doesn't happen that quickly. I try to bring a sensible, fact based approach to the information I share and I hope people find my site both informative and entertaining. Drop by and take a look for yourself and get in contact with me to let me know what you think. Skye

2 thoughts on “Time Efficient Workout Strategies For Busy People

  • October 17, 2011 at 5:36 am

    Thanks Matt.

    I’m sure you’ll find everything you need over at my site, if not get in contact with me and I’d be pleased to help.

  • September 13, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    Like me, i have a very busy schedule to the extent that my body is getting fatter and fatter!!! I really need some tips regarding my problem. I need workout that can save time but can benefit me. Thanks to online article, it helps me a lot.


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