BY STEVE PULCINELLA Men’s Fitness
When you’re busy there isn’t always time for a workout. One or two exercises maybe, but not a whole 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.
1. FRONT SQUAT
Set a barbell on a power rack at about shoulder height. Grasp the bar with hands shoulder-width apart and raise your elbows until your upper arms are parallel to the floor. Take the bar out of the rack and let it rest on your fingertips. Step back and set your feet shoulder-width apart with your toes turned out slightly. Squat as low as you can without losing the arch in your lower back.
2. GOOD MORNING
Step under the bar and nudge it out of the rack so it’s resting on the back of your shoulders. Set your feet shoulder-width apart. Take a deep breath and push your hips back. Lower your torso as far as you can, keeping your lower back in its natural arch. Allow your knees to bend slightly.
1. DUMBBELL BENCH PRESS
Hold a dumbbell in each hand and lie on your back on a flat bench. Press the dumbbells up from shoulder level to straight over your chest.
2. CLOSE-GRIP BENCH PRESS
Grasp the bar with hands shoulder-width apart and arch your back so there’s space between your lower back and the bench. Pull the bar out of the rack and lower it to your sternum, tucking your elbows so they’re about 45 degrees to your sides. When the bar touches your body, drive your feet hard into the floor and press the bar back up.
Reps: 3 waves of 8, 5, 2
Stand with your feet about hip-width apart and bend your hips back; reach down and grasp the bar so your hands are just outside your knees. Keeping your lower back in its natural arch, drive your heels into the floor and pull the bar up along your shins until you’re standing with your hips fully extended and the bar in front of your thighs.
Perform eight reps the first set, five the second, and two the third; repeat this pattern for Sets 4–9.
Reps: As many as possible
Hang from a pullup bar with your hands outside shoulder width. Pull yourself up until your chin is over the bar.
1. BEHIND-THE-NECK PRESS
Stand holding the bar with your hands just outside shoulder width so your forearms are perpendicular to the floor. Press the bar straight overhead, then lower it behind your head, stopping halfway down your neck. Press it back up to begin the next rep. Try to keep your head upright and use a conservative load to ensure proper form.
2. BARBELL CURL
Hold the bar with hands shoulder-width apart. Keeping your upper arms at your sides, flex your elbows to curl the bar all the way up.
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