When you’re talking about cars or job applicants, efficiency is a good thing. When you’re talking about working out so you can see your abs, it’s a bad one. The problem is, the more efficient your body becomes performing any exercise, the fewer calories it burns doing it.

So with this program, our goal is to make your body more inefficient (like a trip to the D.M.V., only a lot more fun) so that it burns more calories and stimulates muscle. While it’s not the most “efficient” training, it is the fastest route to abs. Go figure.

How it works

The best way to throw the body off and fight efficiency is to keep changing up your workouts to prevent adaptation. You’ll need to train three days a week for four weeks with the following routines: a high-rep workout to build your work capacity and burn loads of calories; a barbell-based strength day to maximally stimulate muscle; and a blend of strongman and circuit training to challenge muscles you haven’t worked before along with your heart.

This three-pronged attack will confuse your metabolism and trick your body into burning more fat (accompanied by a sound diet), and you should see results within a month. It’s inefficiency at its most effective.


Perform each workout once per week, resting a day between sessions. Exercises marked “A” and “B” are alternated—perform one set of A, rest as needed, then B, and rest again. Repeat until all sets are done for the pair.

The remaining exercises are done as straight sets. On Day III, perform the exercises as a big circuit. Do one set of each exercise without rest in between. Then rest as needed and repeat the circuit until 30 minutes have elapsed. During Days I and III, strive to complete the whole session in less time each week or lift more total weight. On Day II, choose a weight for each exercise with which you can perform six to seven reps.

Weeks 2-4

Repeat the same sequence for the next three weeks. The only changes happen on Day 2, where you gradually up your reps for the barbell exercises. 

Week 2, Day 2: For the barbell exercises, perform 4 sets of 6 reps.

Week 3, Day 2: For the barbell exercises, perform 4 sets of 7 reps.

Week 4, Day 2: For the barbell exercises, perform 4 sets of 8 reps.