3 Ways to Get a Great Workout in Less than 30 Minutes

I just got back from a nice long four day weekend. It really hit the spot. I spent the time celebrating the marriage of two of my good friends. There were lots of laughs, some tears (talking about you Matt), and even more drinking, singing, and dancing.

You are all probably wondering. Did I partake in all of these festivities? Hell Yeah I did. I am not going to pass up an open bar, you crazy. I was also able to show off my two left feet on the dance floor. Did I mention singing? I sound like Barry White, in my head and William Hung to everyone else. Needless to say it was a great wedding, Congratulations Matt and Cory.

After two days of having Dunk and Doughnuts for breakfast I am happy to be back home and away from all those delicious treats.

So now that I am completely off track on this post let me get back to what the title is all about and what I promised last week. Last week I talked about the, oh so popular excuse, of not having enough time to do something healthy for yourself. You can read that here.

As promised, here are three ways to get you in and out of the gym in less than 30 minutes.


Complexes or finisher as some people call them are a nice quick easy way to get a quick workout in if you don’t have a lot of time. The great thing with complexes is you don’t have to have a gym and they require little to no equipment.

What You Need:

As I said above you can use anything. Barbells, Dumbbells, Straps, Kettelbells, Bands, or Bodyweight. These can all be used to complete a complex. You don’t need any fancy equipment or even a gym.  All you need is enough space.

How to Set UP:

Pick 3 to 5 exercises, which will transition well from one to the other. The complex will be full body. Your set range will be 2 to 5, your reps 5 to 10, and your rest 30 sec to 2 minutes.

When it comes to selecting a weight you will base it off of the exercise that you are the weakest at.

Example: If my complex is a Barbell front squat, to push press to good morning for 3 sets of 5. And I can front squat 185 for 5, push press 110 for 5, and good morning 165 for 5. My weakest link is the push press so I will pick a weight of about 95 pounds.


I put this in here because you should be doing every rep as fast as you can without compromising form. After every set you should be breathing hard and if you are not then you are not doing it right. You need to push past your comfort zone, it’s not meant to be easy. You need to go as hard as you can for every rep and set.


Beginners: 3 exercises, 2-3 sets, 5-7 reps, and 90sec-2min rest

Intermediate: 3-4 exercises, 3-4 sets, 5-8 reps, and 60 sec-90sec rest

Advanced: 4-5 exercises, 3-5 sets, 5-10 reps, and 30sec- 60sec rest

You can also increase the weight but I would leave that as the last progression.

Example Complex:

Barbell Lunge to Good Morning to Push Press: 3 sets of 6 reps 2 min rest

DB Clean, front squat, push press, RDLs, bent over row: 3 sets of 5 reps 60 sec rest


I am sure you have heard of the Tabata protocol. And I bet a lot off you have tried it, but I also bet only a small percent have actually done it to the intensity it was meant to be done at.

With this being said it is an extremely effective way to get a great fast workout in.

What You Need:BattleRope1

Like the complex you can use anything. Refer back to the complex.

How to Set Up:

The traditional Tabata is 20 sec of work and 10 sec of rest for 4 minutes. You can just do one exercise or cycle through a couple of different exercise. I prefer to use bodyweight exercise, med balls, or anything that is simple and can be done quickly and at a high intensity.


Again you are going as hard as you can go for 20 seconds. The first time you do this there is a good chance you will feel light headed or even not be able to complete the whole 4 minutes. Which is ok.


Beginner: 10 sec work 20 sec rest 4 minutes

Intermediate: 15 sec work 15 sec rest 4 minutes

Advanced: 20 sec work 10 sec rest 4 minutes

Example Tabata:

Burpees, that’s it, just do a crap ton of burpees as fast as you can. Does not sound too bad but I bet you won’t be able to finish your first time.

Squat Jumps to Med Ball Slams, do 20 seconds of squat jumps and then your next round do 20 seconds of med ball slams.

Go Big

If you are in a crunch for time then go big. Stick with your multi joint lifts, it’s not sexy but it works.

What You Need:

I prefer the barbell but you can also use dumbbell and kettelbells. But you will get the most out of the barbell just because you can lift more weight using a barbell then you can with the other pieces of equipment.

Unlike the two other protocols you are going to have to go to a gym or at least have some weights lying around the house to complete this.

How to Set Up:

Pick an upper and a lower body exercise. You’re going to do 5×5 for sets and reps.

If you do a knee dominant exercise and push dominant exercise on one day, then the next day you will do a hip dominant and a pull dominant exercise the next day.


You are not going to be going as intense as the two other protocols but you are going to be lifting heaver weights. This will allow you to maintain and gain strength.


Excuses make kitty mad


Day 1: Squats 5×5 and Bench 5×5

Day 2: Deadlifts 5×5 and Pull Ups/Bent over Row: 5×5

Final Two Cents

Complexes and Tabatas are a couple of great ways to get a quick intense full body workout in less then 30 minutes. If you do these correctly you will see an increase in aerobic and anaerobic capacity as well as see a decrease in body fat.

With the go big principle you will be able to maintain your strength when you can’t devote hours to the weight room.

With these three protocols you should have no excuse to find time to get a good effective lift in.


Josh Williams

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Posted on August 3, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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