If you are one of those guys who prefers to get down to business in the gym without wasting precious time, this column is for you. Many fitness experts, including myself, believe that briefer (less than half an hour, 3 to 6 times a week), higher intensity (heavier weights, less rest between sets) workouts are the way to go if you want to make awesome gains.
Shorter, higher intensity workouts are effective for many reasons. First, you work every muscle group thoroughly with minimal rest between sets thereby burning more calories. Second, during shorter workouts your testosterone levels rise and remain steady. Working out for hours on end can be counterproductive causing testosterone levels to drop as cortisol (a bad, stressful hormone) and lactic acid levels rise. This can lead to overtraining, fatigue and even injury.
For intense, briefer workouts use “giant sets,” a body building concept that employs a multiple number of sets in a minimal amount of time. Giant sets can be performed in several ways. Try at least 5 sets back-to-back, each on a different muscle group. Use weight that will challenge you for 12 reps and remember to rest only 30 seconds between sets. When planning this type of workout, be creative and use exercises that you like as well as a few that you don’t!
Here’s a sample workout for upper body. The first exercise of the five-set cycle is the flat dumbbell press for overall chest density. After a 30 second rest, move on to the seated row for back thickness. Seated dumbbell overhead presses are next for shoulders. Pump up those triceps with a set of 50 dips. Finish round one of this monster routine with a set of overhead cable curls. After a two- minute rest, perform this giant set one or possibly two more times depending upon your time and energy. Up your weight on each set by about 2 per cent if you can manage it. Adhere to proper form with each exercise. Repeat this workout 2-3 times per week.
You can also perform giant sets for lower body on the same day as upper body depending upon your strength and stamina. I prefer doing upper and lower body on different days. Perhaps you can hit the gym in the morning for lower body and work upper body in the evening after work. Regardless, remember each of these workouts is intense and should only take you 30 minutes tops to perform. Use squats, leg presses, leg curls, stiff-leg dead lifts, lunges and a high repetition calf raise (15-20 reps) to slam quads, hamstrings, calves and butt. Perform 2-3 giant sets for legs. Rest 30 seconds between exercises and two – three minutes between giant sets (a little more rest may be needed for legs as compared to upper body). Work abdominals by doing crunches at anytime during these workouts or on off days.