extremely fast home workouts

“You may delay, but time will not.”
― Benjamin Franklin

I learned long ago that if I could shorten and condense my workouts, results would come that much faster (with a sweet bonus of having more time for other things).  And well, like you, I only have so much time to begin with. Forget spending 20 minutes driving to the gym, this workout needs to happen NOW!

This post is about the 3 insanely fast home workouts that have allowed me to abandon the gym entirely.

Each workout has a different focus and the great thing about them is that when you do have a surplus of time and energy, you can then combine them to create a super workout.

Consume it quickly, let it digest, than use it to fuel your action.

We’re busy, remember?

exhausted athlete How to Workout When You Dont Have Time



Protocol: Tabata

I said it once, I said it twice, and I’ll say it once more: We do not need to run to be in shape. We just need to do things that make breathing tough. Tabata is the most efficient way we can do this.

The basics:

  1. Exercise for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds.
  2. Do this 8 times.
  3. Try to accomplish between 8 – 14 reps per round.
  4. To achieve this number, pick an exercise and/or weight that allows you to max out around 20 – 30 reps.

In between rounds, write down your reps (at the end, you’ll have a number like “108″. Your goal for next workout is to beat this).

Tabata is best used to target slow twitch muscles like the legs. Squats, lunges, step ups, hip thrusts, and their variations all work equally well here as do many core exercises like planks. Upper body movements such as chinups and pushups, however, will be tough. If you go this route, make sure to pick 2 exercises and alternate them.

Rather then be distracted by a hand timer or even counting the time for this protocol, listen to special tabata music. I am so passionate about this that I made my own track here.

Modification: Don’t think you need to confine to the rules in order for this to be effective. If you are just starting out, try a half tabata (2 minutes). If you are more advanced, try a super tabata (30 seconds on / 10 seconds off). If you have flat gone off your rocker, try just doing something for 4 minutes total (flutter kicks from hell).

gymnast body How to Workout When You Dont Have Time


{ 10 – 20 MINUTES }

Protocol: EDT

Resistance training, by itself, doesn’t build muscle. No, we thank Progressive Overload for this. Coming back week-after-week and trying to do more volume (reps x sets x weight) is what sends the signal to our body to continually “tear down and build up“. Escalating Density Training, or EDT for short, is a program designed just for that. Termed “escalating” because each week you attempt to increase the amount of work you can do.

The basics:

  1. Pick 2 exercises (preferably antagonistic).
  2. Do them back-to-back (i.e. a superset).
  3. Do 5 reps per set of both (of your 10 – 15  rep max).
  4. Do as many sets as you can in the designated time (either 10, 15, or 20 minutes).

So I set my time variable (15 minutes) and I have my exercises (chinups and pushups) of which I must do 5 reps each. I go back and forth, resting just enough so that I am able to complete the reps. When I start pooping out (and getting weaker), I’ll drop the reps to 4. Then 3.  Or I’ll modify them to be made a little easier. At the end of 15 minutes, I’ll have a number (like 24 total sets). When I do this workout next week, I must beat this if I want to progress. Pretty simple, right?

The best exercises for this tend to be isolated upper body movements. If you have a kettlebell lieing around or heck, even a milk jug, try using this to do curls, tricep extensions, straight arm pullovers, overhead press, rows, and a whole bunch of different pushes and pulls.

It should be said that this doesn’t have to be used for a muscle building program. In the end, it comes down to calories. If you are not eating enough (or purposely dieting), than there just won’t be enough materials left to build the house back up again.

Modification: No one said the rep numbers had to be uniform. Many times, for my push-pull workout, I’ll do 5 reps for chinup and 15 for pushup. It’s just how it works out (aka I am too lazy to make my pushup harder).

china lifter How to Workout When You Dont Have Time


{ 10 – 20 MINUTES }

Protocol: Singles

Becoming stronger without a gym is tough. Unless you are a bonafide gymnast or have access to some tonnage at home like I do, it can be almost impossible to find enough resistance to get your Milo on.

  • So stop #1: Realize that you need some weight at home (ez bars and weights, kettelbells, and weighted vests all work well here and are easy to store).
  • Stop #2: Realize that strength is a skill. And skills, like juggling or the ability to moonwalk, are largely based on how well our brain neurons talk to each other. The faster they communicate, the faster (or skillful) we will be.

Doing singles (that’s 1 rep), this is the best way we work on this skill of strength. There is a misconception, however, that this 1 rep has to be a “bawlz out” effort. Not only can this be dangerous (at least to your kitchen floor), but it only has to be heavy enough…

The basics:

  1. Pick one big [hard] exercise.
  2. Use anywhere from 70 – 85% of your 1rm for weight.
  3. Complete 1 rep on the minute for 10 – 20 minutes.

So I have 165 lb on the bar for overhead press (max is 190+). I do one rep and I’ll rest about 45 seconds before I approach the bar again. Once I do, I’ll make sure I have the proper set up and I prepare myself to do another press (FYI: The aim here is “perfect practice” ). Boom! I set it back down and I either do a full rest or I choose to do a little mobility work in-between. 10, 15, or 20 reps later and I am done.

This is a deceptively easy way to get strong. Through this method, I can credit most of my strength gains. Overhead pressing, for certain, has benefitted the most (youtube clip).

Best exercises for this include full body movements: Overhead or bench press, front squat, deadlift, ab rollout (srsly), chinups, pushups, and variations.

Women wanting to do a real pushup and pullup for the first time will want to try this out (don’t worry, the volume is so low that “getting bulky” is not an issue) as will men wishing to take these exercises to the next level (muscles ups and handstand pushups).

Modification: I don’t really have one here. Find something that is hard and do it.

super workout3 How to Workout When You Dont Have Time


Putting this all together

First, the principles:

  • Always start with stimulating activities (in our case, the strength workout).
  • Always end with draining activities (conditioning).
  • If you have more time and energy, throw some volume in the middle (the muscle building workout).

Next, putting them into practice for a home workout:

  1. A) Ab Rollout 15 x 1 reps
    >> rest 2 -3 minutes
    B1) Pushup x 10 (EDT)
    B2) Chinup x 5
    >> rest 2 – 3 minutes
    C) Squats ( Tabata)

Note: Based off the protocols I listed above, this workout should not take longer than 50 minutes (including warmup and coffee consumption).

Now, this is when I often hear: “Hey, I can’t do that stuff!”.  Sure you can. If you do not have a ab roller, do hand walk-outs like this. If the regular pushup is too hard, try this. And if you do not have a chinup bar, go to the park and do them like this.

When there is a will, there is a WAG.


Too Cheap to Buy Tickets


The biggest step is not the first step.

It’s the pre-step.

It’s all the work (physical and mental) that goes into preparing for that first step.

You want to know why many people find WAG workouts hard to stick with? The pre-step is too easy. Unlike a gym, we do have to invest resources (energy to dress nice, time to drive there, and money to pay) before our workout.

Because we do not invest, it is a lot easier to skimp on the workout once it begins or skip it entirely.


We do not quit on marathon mile number 25 just like we don’t “half-plate it” at a $30 chinese buffet.

No, when we invest, we go all out. We aim to get our resources worth. And the bigger our investment, the harder it can be for us to quit (even when it’s a bad thing).

Why not take advantage of this?

If we are having a tough time getting a habit to stick (and still relying on that good old “will-power”), investing may be our saving grace.


  1. Spend time and energy researching, planning, and learning how to accomplish goal.
  2. Spend money on our goal: Coaching, training materials and equipment, food and supplements.
  3. Spend social value by making public commitments (you don’t want to look like a flake do you?).

The only hurdle that will remain is giving yourself permission to spend on these things.

I’ve met enough people who find $40 too expensive for a piece of fitness equipment yet wouldn’t bat an eyelash spending that same amount in cigarettes or eating out for the week.

It’s not a money or time thing, it’s a priority thing. And even though we say our goal is such-an-such, we do not really give it high priority. We don’t do this because we’re scared of the failure, work, and responsibility that might come along with it.

I’ve been there. Heck, I’m still there. Knowing that I have to “pay to play”, however, allows me to make those necessary investments. From there, things seem to just take care of themselves.

The question you will have to ask yourself: “Am I moving closer to my goal?” 

If the answer is no, you may be too cheap.

Spend more.