The standard 5-workout per week, 20-set per workout routine is very effective for adding muscle mass and maintaining steady, consistent gains in strength. However, there are many times in life when the rigors of our schedules will prevent us from training in the high-volume, high-set routines we enjoy. When times like that arrive, we need to find way to stimulate the muscle group equally (or near equally) in a lot less time. Here is a complete 4-day workout which only requires 20 minutes of lifting time per workout. They are incredibly tough to complete, and attention must be paid to every detail. The goal is maximum intensity for a very short period of time, and it’s a goal that is not always easy to achieve. Let’s get started!
Day 1 – Chest & Shoulders
12 minutes chest
Complete 12 straight minutes of chest movements, pausing only 30 seconds between exercises to catch your breath. Depending upon available equipment, use flat bench press, dumbbell bench press, cable crossover, and chest dips. You can sustain an incredible pump in only 12 minutes with a nice mix of lower volume (6 repetitions per set) and higher volume (15 repetitions per set) training.
8 minutes shoulders
Your shoulders will already be carrying a bit of a pump from that intense chest workout. Finish them up with eight minutes of bouncing between overhead barbell presses and a variety of dumbbell raises. Rest 15 to 20 seconds between sets. Complete dumbbell front, side, and 45 degree raises to ensure you adequately hit each of the three deltoid heads.
Day 2 – Legs
10 minutes quadriceps
Complete three supersets of barbell squats, dumbbell lunges, and leg extensions. You should be limping when this is complete.
5 minutes hamstrings
Jump on the leg curl machine, and complete one set of lying leg curls. Count to 15, and complete another set. Repeat until your stopwatch beeps, revealing you have been doing them for 5 straight minutes.
5 minutes calves
Just as with hamstrings, you train calves for five straight minutes with only 15 seconds rest between exercises. Use seated or standing calf raise, whichever machine your gym offers. Or rotate between the two movements!
Day 3 – Back
10 minutes upper back
We complete back day a little bit different than the other body parts. For upper back, we strive to complete 100 wide-grip chins (pull-ups to front) in ten minutes. Complete them at any pace you’d like, as long as you have them completed in ten minutes.
10 minutes lower back
Complete three sets of heavy deadlifts, and call it a day!
Day 4 – Arms
10 minutes biceps
Select four biceps exercises which present a wide variety of compound and isolation movements. Bounce between them with 10 to 20 seconds rest between each movement. Recommended movements include barbell curls, alternate dumbbell curls, cable curls, and dumbbell concentration curls.
10 minutes triceps
Select four triceps exercises which present a wide variety of compound and isolation movements. Bounce between them with 10 to 20 seconds rest between each movement. Recommended movements include skullcrushers, cable pressdowns, close-grip bench press, and dumbbell kickbacks.