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4 Time-Saving Workouts (For When You're in a Hurry!)

Updated: Nov 3, 2023

It is the time of year where we all start to wind down. As the holiday season approaches many people often find motivation begins to wane.

I think we have all been there. With busy lives and many commitments, often we only have a very limited amount of time to exercise, let alone think about what workout to perform. Now, some people have a rigid workout schedule which means they do not have to really think about what to do, which is fantastic and highly recommended. Most people, however, do not. Sometimes classes can help by removing that element of control and planning, but sometimes that isn’t a viable option.

So then, what can we do if we only have 45 minutes to get an effective, efficient workout in? Well, below I have set out 4 quick workout blueprints you can easily adapt to your needs. These can be performed anywhere and with whatever equipment you have - even just your own body weight! Pick the workout you want to perform based on your needs and select exercises you can perform safely.


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Firstly, warming up is very important, so however much time you have to workout, ensure you spend some time warming up properly.


1. The Cover-All-Bases Workout

This workout is for the person who wants to perform a resistance workout where every muscle group is exercised. It is very straightforward and easy to follow. You can leave your brain at the door…unless you’re using it to maintain good form, that is! In that case, definitely stick it back in your cranium.

How to perform:

Pick 10 exercises of varying difficulty. Assign them a factor-10 number (10, 20, 30 etc) up to 100. Perform the selected number of repetitions for the given exercise. You can break the reps up into as many bits as you like and rest for as long as you like. Just ensure you complete your reps before moving on to the next exercise and try to keep the pace up.

Suggested Exercises:

See the bottom of the page for exercise suggestions. You can let your imagination run wild!


- Try to pick easier exercises for the higher rep number - performing 100 burpees might wipe you out for the entire day!

- Pick exercises from all of the movement patterns described at the bottom of this page.

- Try to break up movement patterns and muscle groups to avoid fatiguing areas too much. 60 bodyweight squats followed by 50 jumping lunges and 40 jump squats will finish your legs!

- Think about how much equipment you will need to use and how much space you need.


2. The Quick Muscle-Builder

This method is also known as German Volume Training (GVT for short). It’s pretty simple. Two opposing exercises (more on that in a bit), 10 sets of 10 reps with minimal rest. You can add some accessory exercises afterwards if you wish such as core/stability work. Or you can call it quits and head home. If you trained hard enough, the latter will more than likely be the option of choice.

How to perform:

Pick two exercises that work opposing movement patterns. Think vertical push (Overhead Press) and Vertical Pull (Lat Pull Down) or Squat and Hinge (Romanian deadlifts). Perform a superset of 10 sets of 10 reps for the exercises (10 reps squats immediately followed by 10 reps of Romanian deadlifts 10 times, for example). Try to rest as little as possible between paired exercises.

Suggested Exercises: (Exercise - Paired Exercise)

Back Squats - Deadlifts, Bench Press - Bent Over Row, Dumbbell Overhead Press - Pull Up/Lat Pull Down, Push Up - Inverted Row, Weighted Lunges - Romanian Deadlift, Goblet Squats - Kettlebell Swings (Use the same kettlebell)


- Be sensible when selecting the weight/resistance. As the workout progresses and you become increasingly fatigued, you may struggle to maintain good form. It shouldn’t feel too hard, to begin with.

- Select exercises you can perform confidently and with good form (for the reason above). Doing 10 sets of 10 reps of overhead squats isn’t a good idea!

- Avoid exercises that require too much set-up as this will waste time. Efficiency is key here so choose wisely.

- Stick to compound exercises (multiple joints used) with more movement (less fixed resistance). Pull-ups instead of bicep curls and dumbbell chest press instead of chest press machines. Remember the point above with regards to proficiency, however.

3. The Heart Rate One

I have called this one “The Heart Rate One” for lack of a better term! Try doing 10 sets of 10 squats and come back to me with your heart rate. This is a relatively simple workout that combines a small circuit of 3-4 exercises followed by a block of Interval Training.

How to Perform:

Firstly, decide what exercise you would like to perform for your periods of high-intensity intervals - do you need to use a machine for hill sprints/bike sprints or floor space for mountain climbers or burpees? This will dictate the amount of space you have for your selected exercises. Then, select 3-4 suitable compound exercises which utilise the most movement patterns as listed below. Perform 45 seconds of each exercise in sequence with no rest between exercises. Rest 60 seconds between circuits. Perform 3 circuits before moving on to your interval training. Select your work period and rest period dependant on your fitness levels…30 seconds of work with 45-60 seconds rest is a good place to start. Rest briefly before repeating the entire group of resistance and intervals one or two more times.

Suggested Exercises: (Assuming workout performed in gym)

Circuit: Deadlifts, Goblet Squats, Push Up, Weighted Reverse Lunge, Overhead Press, Bent Over Row, Clean + Press, Pull-Ups, Renegade Row, Dips, Bulgarian Split Squat

Cardio: Hill Sprints, Burpees, Mountain Climbers, Bike Sprints, Row Sprints, Ski Erg


- Perform this workout when the gym is relatively empty. If you are moving from circuit to cardio machine when it is busy might annoy other users as you will take up a machine and leave it empty. If you are performing your intervals without a machine then this shouldn’t be a problem.

- Think about the set-up of your mini circuit. Having your 3-4 exercise stations far apart will slow things down.

- Be conscious of overworking your lower body. If you perform a circuit with jump squats, deadlifts and then move on to hill sprints for your intervals you will struggle…unless you want to struggle!!

- As is the case with all these workouts, be careful not to select exercises that are too technical where poor form due to fatigue could lead to injury. Overloading on overhead squats is a recipe for disaster!


4. The “I Really Can’t Be Bothered” Workout

This is perfect for when you’re at home and just want a very simple workout. All you need is a pack of cards!

How to perform:

Pick 4 exercises that you can perform with minimal equipment. Jump Squats, Push-Ups, Pike Crunches and Squat Thrusts are a good selection. Assign each exercise a suit from a deck of cards ie. Jump Squats = diamonds, Push-Ups = hearts etc. Repetitions are decided by the card (ace is 11, picture cards are 10.) Work your way through the entire deck or half the deck depending on how you’re feeling!

Suggested Exercises:

Push Up, Squat, Overhead Squat, Reverse Lunges, Forward Lunges Crunches, Star Jumps, Squat Jumps, Burpees


- Avoid selecting exercises that hit the same muscle group or movement pattern.

- Shuffle the cards first!

Functional Movement Patterns

Functional training aims to improve an individuals ability to perform their daily tasks and/or sporting disciplines effectively and with minimal injury risk by focusing on movement efficiency, joint health and muscular balance. 

The 8 movement patterns and exercises given below all form a part of natural human physiological movement. The list of exercises is not exhaustive; there are many, many more! When selecting your exercises, aim to utilise exercises from all 8 groups. Most movements have an "opposite partner" movement which is important for some of the workouts above where you select opposing movements (workouts #2 and #3). These are highlighted next to the headings. Some of these exercises are more challenging than others so be careful when selecting them.


Goblet Squats, Bodyweight Squats, Jump Squats, Forward Lunges, Reverse Lunges, Bulgarian Split Squat, Jumping Lunges, Side Lunges, Cossack Lunges, Front Squats, Back Squats, Sumo Squats

Hinge - opposite to smash

Deadlift, Sumo Deadlift, Romanian Deadlift, Kettlebell Swing, Snatch, Clean, Trap Bar Deadlift, Banded Hinges, Reverse Hyperextension

Press - opposite to pull

Barbell Bench Press, Overhead Press, Push Up, Parallel Bar Dip, Incline Dumbbell Press, Gymnastic Ring Dips

Pull - opposite to push

Pull Up, Chin Up, Lat Pull Down, Bent Over Row, Inverted Row, Snatch Pull, Dumbbell Upright Row, Single-Arm Row, Seated Row, Renegade Row


Cable Chop, Pallof Press, Bird Dog, Russian Twist, Side Plank, Kneeling Overhead Pallof Press, Windshield Wiper

Smash/Anti-Smash - opposite to hinge

Abdominal Crunch, Leg Raise, Plank, Cable Crunch, Hanging Leg/Knee Raise, Pilates Roll Down, Deadbug, Pike Crunches, Ball Slams


Walking, Running, Swimming, Crawling, Bear Crawls

Loaded Carries

Farmers Walk, Zercher Carry, Suitcase Carry, Turkish Get-Up, Sled Push, Sled Pull, Battle Ropes, Tyre Flips

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John Maitland is a personal trainer with over 15 years of experience. He has worked alongside a wide range of leading CEO's, entrepreneurs and medical professionals. John is a keen athlete and holds a black belt in Shaolin Kung fu. A fan of the great outdoors, he can often be found exploring the British countryside and mountains...or breaking pine boards with his fingers.

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