When you're looking for a great workout that's high in intensity but short on time, nothing beats total-body training. By using everything in your (gym) bag of tricks—compound movements, plyometrics, supersets, giant sets, and functional training—you can hit every muscle group, get your heart pumping, and obliterate mega calories. The best part? You'll be in and out of the gym in under an hour.
Integrate these routines from top NLA for Her athletes into your workout to get in peak condition this summer.
1. Super-Duper Sets
To boost intensity while amping her calorie burn, IFBB pro Caryn Paolini uses several advanced training techniques within a single total-body workout. By reducing rest intervals with supersets and trisets, she's able to keep her workouts fast-paced and her training intense. After a brisk, dynamic stretch, Paolini kicks off her workout with 5 sets of 15 reps for both stationary lunges and dive-bomber push-ups. The stationary lunges target her quads and hit her glutes, calves, and hamstrings. Dive-bomber push-ups target her entire body while dynamically building both strength and flexibility in her chest, shoulders, and triceps.
After getting limber, Paolini gets into the meat of the program, kicking things off with a superset that hits both her upper and lower body and keeps her heart rate elevated for the entirety of the workout.
Paolini also loves to include plyometrics in her once-a-week total-body programming to improve endurance, save time, and burn calories. "Plyometrics are a great alternative to cardio—something to do rather than jumping on a boring machine," she says.
2. Pumped-Up Circuits
Circuits are a popular total-body workout strategy because they increase the intensity of a workout through continual movement and shortened rest periods. NPC bikini competitor Theresa Miller loves putting her own twist on traditional circuit training. "Instead of doing one set of each exercise for four rounds, I do two sets of each for two rounds," says Miller.
Her reasoning is twofold: Her muscles get a little more fatigued with two sets than they would with a single one—offering greater opportunity for change and adaptation—and each muscle group also gets a little more rest between sets, making it easier to go harder in the second round.
The extra energy is much needed. While Round 1 uses moderately challenging weight, Round 2 adds an extra challenge, boosts intensity, and makes the most of the short workout circuit by calling for heavier weights.
3. Strength Training and HIIT Combo
Even if you're a devout body-part traditionalist like fitness model Lais De Leon, you can still benefit from the occasional total-body workout. "Instead of only targeting a body part once a week, you have the opportunity to hit it twice," DeLeon says. "This potentially provides faster results."
Though she normally prefers straight-set training for hypertrophy purposes, DeLeon incorporates supersets on total-body days to save time. However, she always follows one rule: Keep cardio separate. "I never blend cardio into my total-body workout," she says. "It expends too much energy and results in less productive lifts." Saving time at the end for a solid HIIT session allows her to prioritize strength training and keep the focus on hypertrophy while still getting in a quality sweat session.
When gearing up for a hard workout, even a short one, it's important to fuel smart—before, after, and during a workout. "I always have Her Aminos intra-workout to preserve as much muscle as possible," DeLeon says. "Post-workout, I have a protein shake to promote protein synthesis."
4. All-in-One Circuit
IFBB figure pro Jessie Hilgenberg is known for her rigorous training routine, but sometimes even the most dedicated athletes need programming flexibility. "If I'm traveling, low on time, or know I won't be able to get in all my workouts that week, I opt for a total-body workout," Hilgenberg says.
After a solid warm-up, she begins her circuit by doing one set of 12 reps or following a set time for each exercise. The key is the limited rest she takes between sets. Keeping the turnover between exercises to under a minute keeps the intensity high. The quick transition also increases stimulation and, more importantly, prevents boredom. "Circuits like this allow me to push quickly and keep my muscles guessing," she says.
If she's really short on time, Hilgenberg cuts a few negative pull-ups from her program and doubles or triples the exercises into supersets and giant sets to get 'er done. At the end of each round, she throws in a cardio element to burn off a few more calories and finish strong. "I use jumping lunges or jump rope to get my heart rate up again," Hilgenberg says. "It also saves time, since I get my cardio and my lifting done at once."