I know a personal trainer who owns a very successful personal training business that trains clients in fifteen minute sessions. Yes, 15:00 of high intensity, all-out, balls-to-the-wall effort. He obtains positive results from these sessions. That approach works if you use the minimal time wisely—minimal exercise prescriptions that target major muscle groups and the cardiovascular system.

 

Those workouts are productive because they are based on progressive training principles: all-out, hard effort aiming for progression of over time via increasing the number of repetitions performed, the amount of resistance used, or increasing the level of intensity expended in bodyweight-type exercises, and by doing it on a regular basis either two or three times per week.

 

The Reality of Training and Health

Not to be condescending, but in modern times with so many being obese and lacking the basic physical qualities of endurance and strength, there must be a "minimal" option to apply to those groups. In addition, training with this minimal protocol adds more proof that anyone seeking overall fitness improvement does not need to spend excessive time at the gym to attain positive results.

 

If you are a competitive body builder, power lifter, or weightlifter, of course you need more time to practice the skills of those endeavors. This discussion is not about you.

 

As I have mentioned in prior articles, doing something is 100% better than doing nothing. Think about it: sitting idly versus going all-out on a specific exercise is 100% better than doing nothing at all. Knowing that, think about this:

 

Suppose a person was to perform one set of maximum repetitions in an upper body pull exercise (like a lat pull down), upper body push exercise (incline press), and a multi-joint, lower body push exercise (barbell squat), three times per week. They attempt to either perform more repetitions with the same resistance, or increase the resistance for the same number of repetitions in forthcoming workouts. This not only would offer a stimulus for the body to adapt to, it would also be time-efficient and 100% better than doing no exercise.

 

I have trained thousands of athletes over many years, and I know a lot of approaches work. I am not solely advocating minimal training for all trainees, but if you are a novice seeking some type of gains, going all-out on a very minimal program works. It does not require a lot of time in the gym to see improvement in fat loss, muscle definition, and general overall fitness. Trust me. It can work for you, provided you work hard in training and shore up your dietary habits.

 

male doing burpees

Proper physical training does not need to be overly time-consuming and complicated. [Photo credit: J Perez Imagery]

 

15 Minutes to Fit

The following 15-minute workouts are demanding and effective in eliciting good results if hard effort and progression are applied:

 

Bodyweight Exercises

Perform as many repetitions as possible in 5:00 for each of these exercises:

  • Burpees
  • Squats
  • Chest-to-bar pull ups

 

One of everything, with :30 rest between each:

  • Push ups for maximum repetitions
  • Wide-grip pull ups for maximum repetitions
  • 50 squats
  • Bar dips for maximum repetitions
  • Chest-to-bar pull ups for maximum repetitions
  • 20 single-leg glute press ups, each leg
  • Tent push ups for maximum repetitions
  • Close-grip pull ups for maximum repetitions
  • 20 walking lunges, each leg
  • If time permits, 20 burpees or 100 mountain climbers

 

The maximum number of rounds you can perform in 15:00:

  • Overhead pull ups or chest-to-bar pull ups for maximum repetitions
  • 15 bench dips
  • 8 alternating forward lunges, each leg

 

The maximum number of rounds you can perform in 15:00:

  • 50 mountain climbers
  • 10 single-leg bench squats, each leg
  • 30 bicycle crunches

 

Combination Barbell and Bodyweight Exercises

The maximum number of repetitions you can perform in 5:00 for each of these exercises:

  • Barbell bench presses
  • Barbell bent-over rows
  • Jumping jacks

 

The maximum number of repetitions you can perform in 5:00 for each of these exercises:

  • Standing barbell overhead presses
  • Overhead pull ups or chest-to-bar pull ups
  • Barbell squats

 

One of everything with :30 rest between each:

  • 10 barbell bent-over rows
  • 10 walking push ups
  • 10 bodyweight split squats each leg
  • 10 barbell upright rows
  • 10 barbell front raises
  • 10 barbell RDLs
  • Close-grip pull ups for maximum repetitions
  • Bench dips for maximum repetitions
  • 10 bodyweight side squats each leg
  • Chest-to-bar pull ups for maximum repetitions
  • 10 standing barbell overhead press
  • 10 barbell step-back lunges each leg

 

The maximum number of rounds you can perform in 15:00:

  • 12 barbell upright rows
  • 20 bodyweight squats
  • 10 barbell close-grip bench presses

 

Combination Dumbbell and Bodyweight Exercises

One of everything with :30 rest between each:

  • 15 dumbbell upright rows
  • 15 dumbbell chest presses
  • 70 bodyweight squats
  • Wide-grip pull ups for maximum repetitions
  • Close-grip push ups for maximum repetitions
  • 25 dumbbell squats
  • Chest-to-bar pull ups for maximum repetitions
  • 15 dumbbell curl-to-presses
  • 15 dumbbell RDLs

 

The maximum number of repetitions you can perform in 5:00 for each of these exercises:

  • Dumbbell incline presses
  • Dumbbell bent-over rows
  • Burpees

 

The maximum number of repetitions you can perform in 5:00 for each of these exercises:

  • Overhead pull ups or chest-to-bar pull ups
  • Dumbbell lunges (6 each leg) and squats (10), repeat
  • Seated dumbbell overhead presses

 

The maximum number of rounds you can perform in 15:00:

  • 20 dumbbell chest presses
  • 20 bodyweight squats
  • 20 dumbbell bent-over rows

 

Combination of Barbell, Dumbbell, and Machine Exercises

One of everything with :30 rest between each:

  • 20 leg presses
  • 20 barbell bench presses
  • 20 wide-grip pulldowns
  • 15 dumbbell squats
  • 15 machine overhead presses
  • 15 seated rows
  • 10 leg curls
  • 10 dumbbell incline presses
  • 10 pulley upright rows

 

The maximum number of rounds you can perform in 15:00:

  • 10 machine chest presses
  • 10 one-arm dumbbell bent-over rows
  • 10 barbell squats
  • 10 weight plate reach-up crunches

 

The maximum number of repetitions you can perform in 3:00 for each of these exercises:

  • Close-grip pulldowns
  • Machine overhead presses
  • 2-arm dumbbell bent-over rows
  • Leg presses
  • Weight plate sit ups

 

One of everything with :30 rest between each:

  • 12 barbell incline presses
  • 12 wide-grip pulldowns
  • 12 weighted bar dips
  • 12 dumbbell bench rows
  • 12 dumbbell side raises
  • 12 machine high rows
  • 12 barbell lunges
  • 12 machine standing squats
  • 12 leg curls
  • 12 dumbbell or barbell deadlifts

 

Proper physical training does not need to be overly time-consuming and complicated. A 15-minute plan performed two to three times each week can be used to improve the average person's muscular strength, endurance, and physique if done with all-out effort. Provided you adhere to reasonable dietary intake and adequate recovery, good results will be obtained.

 

Set your goals:

The Anatomy of a Training Program

 

Conditioning with hills:

Ultimate Conditioning: The Benefits of Hill Running

 

 

 

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