An Effective Lunchtime Workout!

People are generally surprised that my workouts rarely last more than 30 minutes and I can complete an entire muscle-gaining workout during my lunch. The key is intensity and focusing on what works and avoiding practices that do not effectively build ...

People are generally surprised that my workouts rarely last more than 30 minutes and I can complete an entire muscle-gaining workout during my lunch. The key is intensity and focusing on what works and avoiding practices that do not effectively build muscle.

As a competitive teenage bodybuilder my workouts would last up to an hour and a half. I also would do up to an hour of cardio work per day. (We used to call it aerobics back in the old days.) Those were the days. I worked at my brother's gym and went to school. The rest of my time was spent planning or preparing my meals and training. Lengthy workouts were the norm.

That's what all the muscle mags recommended. Training six days per week for 15-to-20 sets per body part was the way everyone did it. All bodyparts were hit twice per week and the routine would take nearly 90 minutes to complete. Life was grand and that was nearly 20 years ago.

Workout Less & Achieve More.
In this article I am going to show you what exercises to focus on and provide an example of a workout to get you started ...
Now, like many of you, I have a full-time job, a family and many other commitments. Time is precious and I don't have an hour and a half to train every day. I wish I did, but I don't. My guess is that many people are in my situation. I have news for you.

You don't need to train 90 minutes. An effective muscle-building workout can be performed in less than 30 minutes and if your gym is close enough to your work, you can fit it into your hour lunch break.

In order to keep making progress over the years I've had to make adjustments to my workouts. I've learned to train more effectvely and that includes shortening the time of the workout. I train with weights five days per week for about 30 minutes per workout. This allows me sufficient time for warmup and grinding out result-producing sets so I can achieve a great pump.

Skeptical? Let Me Explain ...

I've customized this routine and have borrowed from a few sources. It has its roots in Mike Mentzer's Heavy Duty system but it's also like Dorian Yates' routine, a little like AST's Max OT system with a little bit of powerlifting thrown in.

I've also sprinkled a dash of Body for Life on top for good measure. Those are the ingredients so let's move on to the actual recipe. I mean workout.

First of all I'm a firm believer in not mixing your cardio work with your weightlifting. They need to be done at separate times during the day, not immediately before or after each other. Your muscles have to be at their strongest to achieve maximum growth stimulation.

You won't be strongest if you've tired yourself out with cardio before you hit the weights. If you do cardio immediately following your workout, you'll miss out on the 45-minute window of opportunity to start the anabolic growth and recovery phase by consuming whey protein, simple carbs and creatine. I do my cardio first thing in the morning or in the evening.

I'll do walking, biking or running, but not at the gym. I use the gym for weight training only.

I train each body part once per week and have divided the workouts between five days:
Monday is chest.
Tuesday is back and rear delts.
Wednesday is legs.
On Thursdays I train front and side delts and
Friday is arm day.
Abs are hit once or twice per week along with chest or legs.

Monday Sample Routine

I train chest first in the week for several reasons.

The first is to help my recovery time for my shoulder joints. I've had my share of injuries over the years and training my chest on Mondays after two full days of rest is good for my shoulder joints. The chest is also a large body part and I train the three largest body parts the first three days of the week when I have the most energy. Like most guys, I also like to train chest. Putting it first in the week helps me get through the "I-hate-Monday blues!"

Exercise Of The Week: Flat Barbell Bench Press.
The flat barbell bench press is the most common exercises used in the gym. It is the staple exercise for building muscle mass and strength in the chest. Learn more!
My first chest exercise is the bench press. I use a fairly narrow grip as this helps to alleviate stress on my shoulders. This grip is much more comfortable for me than the traditional wide grip. My grip is just a little bit wider than shoulder width. I usually begin with the 45-pound bar. I'll do 15-to-20 reps to get the arms and shoulders moving a bit. I then proceed to a few arm circle movements with a 5-pound plate to warm-up the rotator cuffs.

I'll do 2 sets of 10 of these. Then I'll do two quick sets of eight with 135. I'll wait about a minute and do three or four reps with 185. I'll rest another minute and do one or two with 225. I may do one more set with 245.

These warm-up sets are acclimation sets. They allow you to warm-up gradually and your muscles become acclimated to the heavier weights without burning out before you hit your maximum weight. Now I'm ready for two all-out sets at about 260-270. I'll do 5-or-6 reps on each set. Each set is to positive failure. This takes me about 15 minutes.

After bench presses comes close-grip bench presses.

Here I'll do one or two sets of 6-8 reps to positive failure. I'm already using the bench so all I need to do is strip off a couple plates. It's quick and this exercise is a great assistant exercise for bench presses. After this exercise I've been training for 20 minutes.

I'll do one more exercise for chest and that will usually be Hammer Strength Inclines. I load up the machine for one or two acclimation sets and then do one or two sets with maximum weight for about six reps to positive failure. This exercise also allows me to use rest-pause training safely and effectively.

On my last set when I've blasted out my last rep to positive failure, I'll rest for 10 seconds and then do one more rep. I'll rest 10 more seconds and then do one more.

Monday Workout

    Bench Press
    1x20 no weight as warmup
    2 - 4 acclimation sets
    2x6 at maximum weight to positive failure

    Close-grip Bench Presses
    2x6-8 at maximum weight to positive failure

    Hammer Strength Inclines

    Two acclimation sets
    2x6 at maximum weight to positive failure

Click here for printable workout log!

That's it. The chest workout is done. Total time is roughly 25 minutes. If you're really pushing it, you won't be able to do any more nor will you want to.

Are you starting to get the picture? Warm up well utilizing light sets and acclimation sets. Go all out for one or two sets of 6-to-8 reps. At the end of your last exercise utilize rest-pause or maybe forced reps if you have a partner or spotter.

The Rest Of The Week

Here's a sample of the rest of my routine:

Tuesday: Back And Rear Delts

Click here for printable workout log!

Wednesday: Legs

    Leg Curls
    3x12 light weight as warmup

    Leg Extensions
    2-3x12 light weight as warmup

    Smith Machine Squats
    2x10-12 light warmup
    Two acclimation sets
    2-3x6-8 maximum weight

    Front Machine Squats
    2x10-12 medium weight

    I throw in calf training now and then.
    My calves grow pretty easily and have good shape.

    Time: 25-30 minutes

Click here for printable workout log!

Thursday: Front And Side Delts And Traps

Click here for printable workout log!

Friday: Arms

Click here for printable workout log!


There you have it. This is a workout that hits every body part at maximum intensity. It allows for full recuperation and the shoulder joints also get plenty of rest by spacing out chest and shoulder day. I've gained strength and size on this routine.

Combine it with good nutrition and proper supplementation and you'll see that effective muscle building can be achieved through shorter workouts.