When you’re busy, there isn’t always time for a workout. One or two exercises maybe, but not an entire routine. Most of the time you skip it altogether; after all, what good is just a half-hour session? But that’s a mistake.

A short workout forces you to perform only the most essential exercises—the ones responsible for most of your gains—with an increased focus and intensity that revs your metabolism harder and keeps your heart rate elevated. Spend the holiday season mastering those cornerstone movements with this routine. When your calendar clears up again in the New Year, you’ll wonder who needs all that “extra” time anyway.

How it works

You need only two lifts per session: a main exercise that works multiple muscles, and one that enhances your ability to perform that lift. For example, the front squat works the lower body thoroughly, and the good morning directly strengthens the lower back and hamstrings, allowing you to use more weight on the squat.

The only catch when doing shorter workouts is that you need to compensate with volume—more sets—ensuring that you get the most work out of your muscles in the little time you have.


Perform each workout (Days I, II, III, and IV) once a week, resting a day between sessions. Choose a load that allows you to perform two more reps than prescribed, and use that weight on each set. The workouts should take 35 minutes.