Fast Paced Workouts to Help You Get Lean

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Fast paced workouts can help you get lean

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Contrary to popular belief, you can get fit without having to live in a gym. As a personal trainer, I hear every reason in the world why someone can’t get in shape. And you guessed it- time just happens to be the number one answer. More often than not it’s an issue of priorities over time, but I digress. A fast paced workout is just what the doctor ordered.

Let’s say you are on a time budget. I’ve had clients lose around 20 pounds training only three hours a week. It’s doable but those three hours need to be pretty focused. And intense. Plan on setting your phone aside for that hour and don’t let anything distract you. Your workout needs to be done in a business-like manner.

Since your schedule is limited, the best way to manipulate your training is through the use of rest intervals. In a nutshell, they need to be short. So you do some reps, take a few breaths, do some more reps, get a little rest. It’s a way to tackle the volume needed for a muscle to burn energy (think 4-8 sets) while keeping a brisk pace. You’ll need a stopwatch handy (so I lied, maybe don’t ditch your phone) to keep strict rest periods. This approach won’t get you strong, but it will make you look good.

It’s those rest periods that allows the magic to happen. Researchers took subjects through three different workouts: one where they rested 90 seconds between sets, another where they rested 60 seconds, and a third, very lucky group that got a whole 30 seconds. After the workouts, the subjects had their resting metabolic rate measured and the group that rested only 30 seconds had the highest increase in their metabolism (1). Consider the alternative as well: a meta-analysis showed that 90 minutes of slow, low intense activity three days a week didn’t do anything for subject’s waistlines. So we need to hit it hard.

In case you’re curious, short rest intervals help release a hormone cascade that’s responsible for increasing your metabolism. The best workouts are the one’s that force your body to do awesome things long after the training session is over. I guess your take away here is that not all workouts are created equal.

I wish I could take credit for this, but old time training legend Vince Gironda was responsible for this idea of brief rest periods. He called it an “honest workout,” because, well, it’s friggin tough.  A workout would look like this:

A. DB Split Squat- 6 x 6, 3-0-1-0, rest 30 second.

B.Flat DB Semi Supinated Press – 6 x 6, 4-0-1-0, rest 30 seconds

C. Neutral Grip Pulldown 6 x 6, 3-0-1-1, rest 30 seconds

Let’s use B as an example. So do 6 reps of your press with a 4-0-1-0 tempo….meaning the set should last 30 seconds. Now rest 30 seconds….a strict 30 seconds. Immediately do another set of 6. Keep going in this manner until you hit your 36rd rep (6 sets of 6 reps). If you’re doing the math, those 36 reps should take a total of 6 minutes.

It will look easy on paper, but if you do it right, you’ll be breathing pretty heavy though this workout. Just because you can’t spend three hours a day in the gym doesn’t mean you can’t get in shape.



  1. Donnelly, J.E., Blair, S.N., Jakicic, J.M., Manore, M.M., Rankin, J.W., Smith, B.K. “Appropriate Physical Activity Intervention Strategies for Weight Loss and Prevention of Weight Regain for Adults.”(2009) Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 41;7, 1532
  2. Paoli, A., et al. “High Intensity Interval Resistance Training Influences Resting Energy Expenditure and Respiratory Exchange Ratio in Non-Dieting Individuals.”(2012) Journal of Translational Medicine 10:1,237


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