Workout Routines

Gone in 30 Minutes

Strapped for time? Make big gains in a half-hour with these ultra-efficient muscle-building workouts.

Gone in 30 Minutes

30-Minute Workout: Upper-Body Circuit

What: An upper-body routine done in circuit fashion—do one set of an exercise, then immediately move to the next.

When: You're looking for an all-encompassing upper-body blast in a minimal amount of time. Also, when you want to add a cardiovascular element to your lifting, as you take almost no rest between sets.

Why: Covering all your bases means hitting every muscle group from a variety of angles, which this routine does with three different exercises per bodypart. And because you're training circuit style, there's no need to take full-length rest periods since each muscle group rests while the others are trained.

How: Rest between sets only as long as it takes to set up the next exercise. The sequence here is crucial; the exercises can be switched around (or you can pick your favorite moves if they aren't on this list), but be sure to not do consecutive sets or exercises for a single bodypart.

30-Minute Workout: Whole-Body Timed

What: A full-body workout that has you doing one exercise per bodypart for time (five minutes) instead of for a particular number of sets and reps—it may remind you of doing rest-pauses. You'll simply do as many reps as you can in five minutes, resting when you need to.

When: You're afraid that doing straight sets will cause you to cut your workout short.

Why: Some people just aren't able to do 15 straight sets in a half-hour, probably because they're accustomed to resting too long. This "choose-your-adventure" method requires you to train each bodypart in five-minute increments so you never lose track of time. For safety reasons, all the exercises are done on machines—you'll probably fatigue quickly and will be working off of limited rest, and machines tend to be safer.

How: For each exercise, select a weight that will cause you to fail at 10 reps. Do 10 reps right off the bat, then rest until you feel ready to go again. Do as many reps as you can, then rest again. Do this for five minutes, which means you'll have to keep a close eye on the clock or your watch.