How many times have you decided to just skip the gym because 10 minutes just isn't enough time to get a decent workout in? After all, 10 minutes isn't a lot of time—only 600 seconds!
While you shouldn't depend on short workouts to meet your long-term goals, quick sessions do have their place in your training routine for a couple of reasons. First, if 10 minutes is all you have, 10 still beats 0 every time. Second, you can use short workouts as a second session to bring up a weak body part, and for many lifters the back could always use some extra attention.
Due to the short amount of time you have for this workout, you must keep rest to an absolute minimum. Treat this workout as one giant set to help you do as much work as possible in the least amount of time. This means you'll do all of the exercises back to back without stopping before taking a rest.
To cut down on transition time between movements, make sure your exercises are all set up close together. You don't want to waste time moving from one end of the gym to the other. Take a 60-second rest between sets, and perform at least two giant sets—three if time permits.
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The T-bar row is a great back blaster and simple to execute. The wide grip targets the lats, while the bent-over position works your lower back and core. This move is easier to do if you have a T-bar station, but if not, a bar and landmine setup with a handle works just as well.
Don't be afraid to go heavy, but keep in mind you do have three other exercises to do with no rest between. Some people use straps on this exercise, but I would recommend leaving them in the gym bag and instead choosing a weight that is challenging but doable without straps.
Bent-Over Dumbbell Row
Dumbbells are great for quick workouts like this because you can set them anywhere to keep your exercises close to one another. Grab the pair you'll need for the row and keep them right next to the T-bar station.
As soon as you finish with the first movement, grab the weights and get to work. Using dumbbells instead of a barbell allows you to get a greater range of motion and target the mid-back muscles closer to the spine. Maintain a tight core and a strong neutral spine to protect your lower back. Rest your upper chest on an incline bench if your core needs a break.
For this exercise, you'll have to move to a lat pull-down machine. Fortunately, the last two exercises are in the same spot so you won't have to move again.
Even though the time is ticking on this quick workout, avoid using momentum on your pull-down. Make your lats do the work. It's best to lower the weight when necessary to feel the muscles in the back working. Squeeze your elbows in at the bottom of the exercise to get a good contraction before letting the handle back up. As soon as you finish the last rep, switch the grip for your final exercise.
Even though it's the same station, reversing your grip for this final exercise targets the back from a different angle. Not only can you effectively hit the lower lats with a reverse grip, but this position also allows the biceps to assist the lats in finishing up on this final exercise.
Remember to keep your chest up and not to jerk the handle, even though your muscles will be tired after all those reps. The key to a good pull-down is to maintain as much of a vertical base as possible. Once you finish your reps, take a quick break and start the circuit over again, trying to get in at least one more full round. For an extra intensity boost, try setting a timer to see how quickly you can do three rounds. Then, try to beat that time the next time you do this workout.