How to do more, in less time at the gym

With the ever increasing demands at work, daily commute and kids (or pets) to look after, I know your time to exercise is scarce.

Which is why I won't sit here and tell you that exercise is important, because you already know that!

You know that you need to do something and you don't want to waste your time. Plus, you want to get some results while you're at it. 

Which brings me to the genesis of this article -- helping you achieve MORE, in LESS time at the gym.

Fulla Strength and Conditioning

There a number of different ways you can tackle this, but today I want to give you some guidance and direction that you can apply at your local gym.

The gym is a place where you can reduce stress, build strength and shape your body -- so let's make sure you have a plan that sets you up for success.

You can achieve this is by following a few crucial points;

  • You need to train efficiently (Avoid wasting time)
    • As one of my clients says, "Don't faff around".
  • You need to maximise your efforts (Really apply yourself)
    • It won't be easy, but nothing worth having is.
  • You need a program that will give you 'bang for your buck' (Short, sharp and effective)
    • Lots of benefits from a single exercise, or activity.

Below you can go through a step-by-step process to achieve your framework and foundation to get more quality work done in less time.

1. Identify your goal

    :Fat loss/increase strength/muscle gain/improve fitness -- Pick only ONE!

2. What's important and yields results?

  • Fat loss --> Focus on Nutrition

  • Increase strength --> Focus on lifting heavy weights

  • Muscle gain --> lift Moderate weights with high volume (lots of total reps) and eat lots of food

  • Improve fitness --> implement cardio, interval and/or circuit-style training

3. Equipment availiability

  • What do you need for your training?

    • Dumbbells, barbell, kettlebells, cables, body-weight, bands

    • Floor/ground space

    • Turf/Hill/Oval

4) Put a simple and intense plan together

  • Include: push, pull, hinge, squat, core

    • Don't do isolation work (single-joint exercises), UNLESS you truly have time.

Image Credit:  T-Nation

Image Credit: T-Nation

Now, let's say you can train twice per week. 

I would advise you to work with one of two options, depending on your training days.

  1. 2x whole body sessions 
  2. 1x upper and 1 x lower body session

This allows you to sufficiently work all of the major movement patterns (Push, pull, hinge and squat) -- which will develop strength, improve your fitness and positively change your body composition (shape).

There is no time for fluffing about and working on the non-essential stuff!

You will work the big things, because they will see you get the best results in the shortest amount of time.

Whole body training template


Strength work

1. Deadlift, 5x5 (90 sec rest)

  • 2-3 warm-up sets to 'grease the groove'. The rest between these sets should be changing the plates.

2a. Goblet Squat, x12, 10, 8, 6 (Each set 'slightly' increase the weight. Reps go down, weight goes up)
2b. RKC Plank, 4x15-20sec HOLD (Rest 60-75 sec after 2b. Then repeat)

  • 1-2 warm-up sets to 'practice' the next exercises. The rest between these sets should be changing the weight.

3a. Incline DB Press, 3x6-8
3b. Incline Bench Pull, 3x10-12 (Rest 45-60sec after 3b. Then repeat)

  • 1 warm-up set to 'practice' the next exercises. The rest between these sets should be changing the weight.

Fulla Strength and Conditioning

WOD (Workout Of the Day)

Escalating Density Training
This was introduced to me by Charles Staley and this method of training is a great way to see improvements in your fitness and strength levels.

How it works:

You pick a predetermined amount of time, specific exercises and a suitable workload/weight. Then you time yourself to complete the workout.

Next session, you aim to beat your time, or lift heavier.

You are trying to either;

  • Do more work in less time
  • Do the same workload at a higher intensity in the same time period

This lets you know you are getting 'better' in same way, shape or form. Either your fitness is improving and/or you are getting stronger. #Winning

Sample workout

8min AMRAP (As Many Rounds As Possible)

A. 20x BW Squats
B. 10x BW Get-ups
C. 8x Body Rows
D. 5x Plank get-ups

After you complete each round, record it. Once you complete the workout, calculate how many full rounds, plus additional reps you completed.


Let's say you completed 3 full rounds and 5x body rows. You would record this as 3 + 35.

Next time you do the same workout, your goal is to beat 3 rounds and 35 reps.

So, rather than wasting too much time on the cardio machines trying to get fitter, pick a few exercises that use multiple muscles, get the heart rate up and put them
together in circuit-fashion and watch your fitness, strength and body composition improve.

You'll still get a good sweat going and believe me, you'll definitely huff and puff! 

Fulla Strength and Conditioning

Next time you hit the gym after a long day of work, try this method out and you should be done within 40-50 minutes. Short, to the point and very effective.

Remember, you're at the gym for a purpose, so use your time wisely.

To your success,



I send out my weekly newsletter, 'Fitness Advice That Works In the Real World',  every Tuesday to help people like you, lose fat, build strength and create results that last.

Check it out here.

Jesse FullerComment