No Time To Work Out?

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We hope that this article affects only a small number of our readers. However, there can be certain life situations when you can only go to the gym once in a while. Even worse, when you don’t know when will be the next time you can make it. You may be able to go 3 times a week (and at times like these, you open a bottle of champagne in the evening). Or, you might just squeeze in one hasty session a week, just to make it. What is the solution? How can you prevent all your muscles from escaping your frame?

First of all: even once a week is better than nothing! Don’t you say “If that’s all the time I have, I’d better forget about it”. If you work out smartly, you can minimize the loss. It’s not that weekly one workout that will make you stronger or more muscular (but even that is not impossible, if you are lucky). But you will be surprised to see how easy it is to maintain your existing muscle mass, or part of it, even by working out once a week. Of course this should not be the standard. Yet nothing is lost.

What should be the concept?

Let’s see. You have no idea how many times you can make it to the gym. Maybe once, maybe more times. So, you don’t have many choices: you need to do all muscle groups.

At this point, however, you should lower your standards. You won’t have enough time or energy to bother with isolation exercises. What are the exercises which enable you to exercise and stimulate as many muscle groups as possible? The answer is simple: basic exercises. Compound exercises. Call them whatever you want. These are the exercises you should resort to. If you are lucky, you might do them all in one single workout session. If you are not, you need to single out the most important ones. Let’s see a few versions, depending on the amount of time you can devote to your workout.

If you have time

It’s your lucky day: no need to do supersets at all costs. Plus, you’ll be able to do enough basic exercises to move each muscle group separately. Below is one possible version:

  • Squats
  • Bench presses
  • Deadlifts
  • Standing military presses
  • Standing barbell curls
  • Close-grip bench presses
  • Standing calf raises

Do 4 or 5 work sets of each exercise. If you are absolutely sure that this is the only time to work out this week, you can do more sets or use intensity-boosting techniques like drop sets in the last set. However, we do not recommend that you wreck yourself completely: What if you still get one more chance later this week? If you get one more chance, you can still do a similar workout on the same week, without the risk of overtraining. Such a training regime is excellent for maintaining your strength level. We know: it might seem too little. We know: it won’t feel like those good old one-workout-per-muscle-group-a-week kind of workouts. But remember, there is only one goal now: to exercise each muscle group and provide as much stimuli for your muscles as possible, in the shortest time possible.

If you are short of time

That sucks. When you can make it only a few times, each for a short time. You have no choice. Again, you have to do basic exercises. What’s more, in supersets or giant sets, whatever you can handle. Let’s see an example!

  • Squats
  • Deadlift-bench press superset (you’ll feel like dying, but that’s that)
  • Standing military presses
  • Standing bicep curls-close grip bench presses (or skull crushers)
  • Do your calves during the rest breaks between your arm supersets

The number of sets is the same as in the previous scenario. If you are so lucky that you can go to the gym more than once a week, you may vary the exercises. For example, you can replace bench presses with incline presses, regular squats with front squats, do the bicep curls with reverse grip, do sitting calves instead of standing etc.

If you are extra short of time

Doomsday. When you really think it makes no sense. In this case your time is enough for a few supersets. We recommend the deadlift-bench press dream team. This is actually enough to move each muscle group on your body. Proceed from high rep counts to the lower and increase the weight in a pyramid pattern. Doing so, you can work your muscles in the most versatile manner possible. Do as many sets as possible in the available timeframe, and don’t waste much time on rest. It will be a killer. You’ll kick the bucket for sure. This is definitely a difficult superset. But in the end you can tell you have done something, can’t you? And, before you’d freak out, saying it’s not enough, let us tell you a secret: we know that. But it is still more than nothing. You have still done something to prevent your body from using up your hard-earned but unexploited muscles. Even a one-time stimulus is better than laying on the couch all week.

As you can see, it makes sense to hit the gym, even if you have extra short time. It cannot be an excuse for giving up. Be resourceful, train smartly and involve as many muscles as possible in a single workout: Because there’s no other way!

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