Train and Make Gains over the Holidays with These 3 Time-Saving Methods

There is a common misconception that you need a lot of time to train for it to be effective. Why bother if you haven’t 30 minutes to get your sweat on? Entering the holiday season, many people have more on their plate than usual, and gym time usually gets cut. You don’t need much time to maintain your gains during demanding times but you may need to change your approach with this time-saving training methods.

Regarding time-saving training methods, there is a trade-off between volume ( set x reps x load) and intensity (effort and load). When you have more time to train, you reduce your intensity and increase the volume. When you have less time, you reduce the volume but increase the intensity.

Increasing your intensity is critical when time is an issue, but you still want to get after it. So, during this holiday season or whenever you’re pressed for time, use the methods below to get your sweat on when time is of the essence.

You can thank me later. Or not.


Before getting into the training below, here are a few guidelines for what you’ll do to maximize the little time you’ve got to train.

  • Many exercises will be either compound (work for multiple muscle groups) or cardio-based.
  • Rest periods between exercises will be shorter to keep the intensity high, but rest more if needed.
  • The intensity is higher because you are only exercising for a short time.
  • Grouping exercises in trisets (3 exercises) and circuits (5 exercises) to help you get more done in less time.
  • Limit the equipment you use to one or two pieces to be more efficient.

Got it? Good, now let’s get into it.


There is a trade-off between time and intensity, but this can work in your favor in you are willing to work hard enough and embrace discomfort. Research suggests that doing only one to four sets per muscle per week will still result in muscle growth.

When time is an issue, consider cutting your workout in half, dropping the volume, and pushing your working sets to the point of technical failure- where you cannot get another rep in with good technique. Training with higher intensity with lower volume will keep you on the gain train when you are time-pressed.


A dumbbell complex is a series of back-to-back strength exercises blended into one training. You do all the reps of one exercise before moving on to the next, and the dumbbell doesn’t touch the ground until you’ve finished all the exercises in the complex.

The key to a good dumbbell complex is ensuring lifts occur logically. How did the dumbbells get there if you did a bent-over row followed by a front squat? Doing bent-over rows to a dumbbell clean makes more sense.


Do all exercises (between 3 and 8 reps for all exercises) on one side before switching to the other. Rest for 2 minutes after doing both sides and do 2-3 rounds. Good luck.

  1. Snatch
  2. Overhead Carry
  3. Front Squat
  4. Push Press
  5. Cross-body Row


There’s nothing magical about the eight-minute and eight-rep protocol. You can change it to five and five, six and six, or seven minutes depending on how much time you have to exercise. Matching the reps to the time for each triset will streamline your workout when time is an issue.

Instructions: Complete each exercise in the triset, resting as little as possible between exercises. Rest 30 to 60 seconds at the end of each triset and do as many rounds as possible within your given time frame. Select a weight that allows you to complete all repetitions with good form. If you’re stacking training, rest 90 to 120 seconds between rounds and choose no more than three in one session.

Note: The following trisets are examples; you can choose any exercise variation.

Kettlebell Deadlift

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