In the dawn of the New Year, you’ve probably got your hands full realizing lots of resolutions. And while one of them may be to get in better shape, that doesn’t necessarily mean spending more time in the gym. If you’re busy and stressed and need all the free time you can get, or you’re just trying to establish the habit of working out and are tired of committing to a full gym schedule, this is the routine for you. It needs to be done only twice a week, and can be completed in well under an hour. As you’ll soon find out, that’s plenty of time to change your body.
HOW IT WORKS If you asked us, “What’s the least amount of work I can do in the gym to see results?” we’d hand you this program. It’s just five exercises but trains the whole body. You have only two set and rep schemes to remember: six sets of four reps and three sets of eight. Both add up to 24 total reps—a good volume goal for muscle and strength gains—but with vastly different effects. The four-rep sets target strength, while the eight-rep sets maximize size gains. Each session, you’ll switch them around so your body never has a chance to adapt. Your workouts may not take more than 45 minutes, but every one of them will count.
DIRECTIONS Perform the workout twice a week, changing the sets and reps each session. The first time you do the routine, perform it as written. The next time, switch the sets and reps—that is, exercises you did for six sets of four reps the first time will now be done with three sets of eight, and vice versa. Rest three days between sessions.
Perform the exercises as straight sets. On the exercises you do for six sets of four, choose a load that allows you six reps on your first set but perform only four.
Sets: 6 Reps: 4 Hold a dumbbell (or kettlebell) by one end under your chin with both hands. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and toes turned out slightly. Take a deep breath and bend your hips back. Lower your body as far as you can without losing the arch in your lower back.
PAIN FREE SQUATTING The goblet squat is the safest squat variant you can do, making it perfect for beginners. Because the weight is held in front of you, as opposed to behind your neck, it acts as a counterbalance, allowing you to sit back farther with your hips and lower into a deeper squat. This also activates your glutes and hamstrings better, and you can’t lose your balance.
Sets: 3 Reps: 8 (each side) Kneel on a bench with one knee and rest the hand on that side on the bench for support. Grasp a dumbbell with your free hand and pull it up and back to your pants pocket. Keep your shoulders level.
Sets: 6 Reps: 4 Hold weights in front of your legs and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Take a deep breath and bend your hips back. Bend your knees as needed and continue lowering your torso until you feel you’re about to lose the arch in your lower back. Squeeze your glutes to extend your hips and return to the starting position.