Need to get in an intense, full-body training session but short on time? While you may feel having limited time will leave you choosing between a quick cardio workout and a short stretching session, you can actually get an intense and productive strength training session done in less than 30 minutes, helping you make progress towards your long term goals!
This is where the two exercise workout comes in. There are exercises out there that offer a tremendous return on investment for the time and effort you put into them. These are often called foundational exercises or even the king of lifts. Exercises such as squats, deadlifts, presses, and Olympic lifts fit this bill perfectly. All of these exercises are compound free weight lifts which engage multiple large muscle groups, stimulate a lot of muscle mass and strength gain, and burn a ton of calories in the process. By selecting two exercises of this type which complement each other well and work most or all of the muscle groups in your entire body, we can, in fact, get an extremely effective workout completed in less than thirty minutes!
We could hypothetically get a training session with only two exercises done in far less than half an hour, but given the intensity of these exercises, getting a proper warm up in is essential to prevent injury. Be sure to take enough time to warm up properly and get in a few warm up sets with light weight before going right into the heavy work. Your body will thank you!
To prepare for the two exercise workout, start by performing five minutes of moderately intense cardiovascular exercise. This can be jogging, jumping rope, riding an exercise bike, or anything else that raises your core temperature and gets your heart beating faster. Once you've completed your cardio warm up, move into a brief dynamic stretch sequence to improve your range of motion and performance during your workout:
- Arm circles: 20 forward, 20 backwards
- Leg Swings: 20 forward and backward on each leg
- Hip Sway: Take a wide stance, lean forward and alternate lunging all the way to the left and all the way to the right for 10 repetitions
- Alternate downward dog and upward dog poses for 5 repetitions each.
The Two Exercise Workout:
Set up your two exercises near one another so you can perform them in superset fashion, moving quickly from one to the other. Once set up, perform one to three warm up sets for each exercise, increasing the weight each set so that you can practice form and prepare your body for the heavy sets to come.
Once you're warmed up and are ready for your work sets, perform the two exercises in superset fashion, getting in one set of each back to back before resting. In order to reap the benefits of both heavy weight and metabolic conditioning, perform eight reps of each exercise with a challenging weight, and keep your rest between supersets between 60 and 90 seconds. Repeat your two exercise superset for a total of five to eight sets, which will be very difficult if you've chosen a challenging weight and are strict with your rest times. Once your working sets are finished, if you have time, take five minutes to stretch the major muscle groups of your body, and you're done! Congratulations! A two exercise workout isn't easy, but it will give you most of the benefits of a long and grueling training session in far less time. Here's a review of the workout written out in an easy to follow fashion:
- Warm Up: Perform 5 minutes of cardio, follow by the dynamic warm up listed above.
- Exercise A + Exercise B: Perform 1–3 warm up sets of increasing weight. Rest 60 seconds between sets.
- Exercise A + Exercise B: Using a challenging weight, perform 5–8 working sets of 8 reps for each exercise, moving from A to B without resting, then rest 60–90 seconds before starting the next set of exercise A.
- Cool Down: Stretch out for 5 minutes
Some great exercise pairs for a Two Exercise Workout:
While there are countless combinations of exercises you can use, I prefer to combine an upper body and a lower body exercise, and an explosive exercise with a controlled pace exercise. My top four choices of two exercises are as follows:
- Exercise A: Clean and Press
- Exercise B: Barbell Squat
- Exercise A: Push Press
- Exercise B: Deadlift
- Exercise A: Incline Bench Press
- Exercise B: Dumbbell Walking Lunge
- Exercise A: Pull Up
- Exercise B: Barbell Thrusters
Now that you've got all the information you need to try the two exercise workout, give it a shot the next time you're hard pressed to fit a workout in and let me know how it goes!