No Time To Workout? Try This Routine (takes only 1 hour per week)

one-hour-clockI know, sounds a bit outlandish doesn’t it?

You’re probably reading this out of sheer curiosity. I mean, is it really possible for someone to get into shape by investing just 0.6% of their time, per week?

Absolutely. And if you’re still a little skeptical, I don’t blame you.

In fact, you have every right to be – especially if you’ve worked your ass off in the past with nothing to show for it.

And unlike most people, I bet you’ve probably set reasonable and realistic goals for yourself too.

In other words, you’re not aiming to look like some magazine cover model who lives in the gym and has been starving themselves for the past month.

But dropping 5-10 pounds of flab, having a slimmer waist and being confident enough to show some skin at the beach while getting a few compliments would be nice, wouldn’t it?

Of course it would. And besides past frustrations, I also know the one thing that’s holding you back from  working your way towards a body that you can be proud of…

Lack of time!

You just don’t have the time to work out 4 or 5 days a week because you have kids, school, boyfriends, girlfriends, travel plans etc.

I get it.

Which is why I’ve created a plan that will require only one hour of exercise per week. I literally cannot make the volume of training any lower without resorting to black magic. This is the absolute minimum.

So ask yourself, “can I spare an hour a week to finally get in shape?”

If you can, and you have an open mind, then read on because I have just the plan for you.

The Set Up

First, we’re going to take that hour and break it down into 4 chunks. If you’re good at math, that means you’ll be doing 4 workouts that are just 15 minutes long.

The reason for this is that it eliminates further excuses. If I someone do a single hour-long workout, or two workouts that lasted 30 minutes, there is still some room left for argument: “but I can’t spare that much time in my day!”

But 15 minutes? C’mon, who doesn’t have 15 minutes to spare?

No one I know is that fucking busy… and believe me, I happen know quite a few very successful individuals that operate on jam-packed schedules, day in and day out.

Now, you’re going to start by working out two days in a row, followed by a rest day. Then the last two workouts will be divided by a rest day yet again.

Here’s what it all looks like in practical terms:

  • Mon – Workout 1
  • Tue – Workout 2
  • Wed – Rest
  • Thurs – Workout 3
  • Fri – Rest
  • Sat – Workout 4
  • Sun – Rest

That’s the ideal set up. If for some reason you want to workout Mon/Tue, rest on Wed then workout again Thurs/Fri, I say go for it. I’ll leave it up to you on how you want to set it up.

Just don’t work out 4 days in a row. Especially if you’re a beginner.

The Secret Sauce

At this point you might be wondering how exactly can working out only one hour per week, deliver substantial results.

Or any results, for that matter.

Well it comes down to two “ingredients” that make up my secret sauce.

1) High Intensity

While these workouts are only 15 minutes long, they’re quite intense. And they’ll get more challenging as the weeks go on. You’ll have to push yourself pretty much every time you step in the gym. Due to this ever increasing intensity, your body is forced to adapt and you’ll be burning fat while building muscle to get you that “toned” look.

2) Proper Nutrition

Generally speaking, a solid nutrition plan will be responsible for about 50-60% of the results of almost any fitness program designed to optimize aesthetics. Or in other words, if looking great naked is the goal, it doesn’t matter how much you bust your ass in the gym, nutrition is a variable that’s responsible for at least two-thirds of your success. Period.

“Abs are made in the kitchen”, as they say.

Well on this plan, nutrition will carry about 70% of the weight.

Let me say this another way – you could totally screw up the 4 small workouts per week and still see results if you follow the nutritional guidelines that I set out for you. And don’t worry, you aren’t required to take any magic fat loss pills. More on what to eat very soon.

The Workout Plan

The type of workout you’ll be doing is called Escalating Density Training (EDT for short). It’s a brilliant little system developed by a strength coach named Charles Staley.

Whenever time is a concern for my clients, this is the type of plan I put them on. Here’s how it works:

  • Pick two exercises that work opposing muscle groups or have an opposite function. Example: bench press (push) and chin-ups (pull)
  • Alternatively, you can also select two completely different exercises that won’t interfere with each other Example: squats and shoulder presses
  • Select a weight that maxes you out at 10 reps for both exercises (if you don’t know, guess)
  • Set your timer for 15 minutes, and start by performing a set of each exercise, for 5 reps
  • Take a small break (10-20 seconds), then do another set of 5, for each exercise
  • Keep going back and forth like this, doing as many sets as you can for each exercise until 15 minutes are up
  • The amount of break between exercises is up to you, but ideally it should be as low as possible

Here’s a practical view of how things might look:

  • Bench press for 5 reps, then immediately do chin-ups for 5 reps
  • Rest 10 seconds
  • Bench press 5 reps, then immediately do chin-ups for 5 reps
  • Rest 15 seconds
  • Bench press for 5 reps, rest 10 seconds, do chin-ups for 5 reps

Initially, the first 2 sets of each exercise will feel pretty easy. This makes sense since you’re only doing 5 reps with a weight you can usually push around for 10 reps.

Eventually though, fatigue will set in. Once that happens, you can drop the number of reps down to 4, 3 or even 2 per exercise, or take longer breaks.

Or heck, you can do both.

Just Remember One Thing…

It doesn’t matter how many sets, reps per set, or the number of breaks you take. ALL that matters is that you a keep track of the total number of reps you completed per exercise by the time your 15 minutes are up.

So going by the above example, let’s say the total rep numbers looked like this:

  • Bench press: 41 reps
  • Chin-ups: 36 reps

Great. Now your goal is to beat these two numbers the next time you do the workout… yes, even if it’s by one rep!

As you can imagine, the amount of reps you can cram inside of 15 minutes will get intense. That’s the point! If your reps approach 50 or beyond, it’s time to up the weight.

Important Note: If you don’t feel like coming up with your own exercise combinations and simply want to download the workout and tracking guide I’ve created, you can do so below!

I should also point out that once you select your exercise combinations, you should stick to them for all 4 workouts. So if your workout 1 is like my example above (bench press and chin-ups) then you need to make sure you don’t change that pairing.

However, it’s definitely OK if you want to squat again in workout 2 or 3, just be sure to pair it with something else and treat it as a whole different workout.

Nutrition Guidelines

Generally speaking, there is no “one size fits all” when it comes following to a nutrition plan. As an example, when I’m working with clients, here are some factors that I have to keep in mind:

  • Total amount of food to recommend (men usually need more calories than women)
  • When to cycle carbohydrates (training day VS rest day)
  • Diet preferences (some people hate broccoli, some don’t eat fish etc.)
  • Any and all allergies that need to be worked around

…I think you get the picture; everyone’s different and they all have different needs so it’d be silly for me to provide a generic meal plan that might not work for every reader of this article.

So what I’m going to do instead, is give you some basic guidelines to follow and leave it up to you to select the foods that best suit your lifestyle.

Obviously, picking natural whole foods over processed junk is the way to go, but don’t be afraid to reward yourself every once in a while.


writing in a diet and nutrition journal with orange and tape measure to the side

Side Note: Alternatively, if you don’t want to deal with the headache of organizing your meal plan and would like me to create one for you, click here to work with me. I’ve helped everyone from MMA fighters, National level gymnasts, Powerlifters and everyday individuals such as yourself get in amazing shape, improve vitality and boost energy. So not only are you in good hands, but you’re also backed by a money-back guarantee!


Daily Protein Intake

The amount to eat (in grams) should be based on the weight you want to be at (in pounds). So if you’re currently 155lbs and want to be 140lbs, then you need to eat 140g of protein per day.

Now the sources where you get your protein from is totally up to you. I highly recommend about 80% of your intake come from real foods such as meats, dairy, eggs, and lentils. The rest can be VIA supplementation such as protein powder/bars etc.

Having said that, be very careful of the protein powders that you buy, as some might be tainted with ingredients that you don’t want.

When it comes to the well-being of my clients and my own body, I currently recommend MyProtein (if you want to know why, click the link).

At the end of the day, it’s your call.

Daily Carbohydrate Intake

Handful-of-AlmondsOn training days, you are to eat no more than 4 servings of carbohydrates. What’s a serving? The amount of food that either takes up the same volume as the size of your closed fist, or fits in the scoop of your hand.

So one large apple would be a serving. A small bowl of oatmeal would be one serving. A scoop of mashed potatoes would also be a serving… you get the picture. However on rest days, you are to drop it down to 3 servings total.

Finally, when it comes to vegetables, you are free to eat as much as you like as long as they are high water content. So think peppers, carrots, leafy greens, celery etc.

Avoid veggies such as avocados and potatoes as they carry too many calories and will throw off the plan. Instead, those “heavy” veggies are to be counted in your carbohydrate allowance.

Daily Fat Intake

Don’t worry about fats, just make sure you stay reasonable by taking in a healthy amount and keep an eye out for the bad stuff. What’s the bad stuff? Well I’d stay far away from trans fats, hydrogenated oils, and overly greasy foods. Natural saturated fats from meats is just fine, and be sure you get the good quality fats from sources such as fish, avocados, nut butters etc.

A daily supplementation of omega-3 fish oils is also highly recommended. I pretty much put all my clients on it, as the benefits are vast!

Final Thoughts

You might be wondering how long it’s going to take to see results from a plan that requires you to work out only an hour a week. Well based on the data from my clients, if you follow everything the way it’s laid out, you should start seeing results within the first 10 days.

Obviously, I’d highly recommend that you measure your starting point before beginning the plan. This means taking a before picture along with measurements such as your weight, waist, thighs, arms etc. You can’t improve what you don’t measure.

And that’s basically it. If you have questions, comments or want to brag about your progress, throw it all in the comment section below.

Oh and it’s a very good idea to workout with a friend or partner, so don’t go at it alone! Share this plan with your friends and take the journey together. Chances are, they’re just as busy as you are!

Good luck.

About The Author

Coach Sahil is the founder of HTS, a National Deadlift record setter and author of a multitude of books. Click Here to learn more about him.

6 Comments

  • Matthew October 22, 2016 at 2:22 pm

    Hey coach, just downloaded it and I’m excited to start! One question though… I don’t have a gym membership, just some equipment at home. What can i do about deadlifts?

    • Coach Sahil October 22, 2016 at 2:28 pm

      Glad you’re starting the plan Matthew. And about the deadlifts… when you say you have “some” equipment, I assume you have DB’s but not BB? If so you can simply do DB deadlifts. Or you can try DB clean and press – another one of my favorites. Just be sure to look for a solid tutorial or get a coach to help you master the movement first. It’s slightly complex if you’re a beginner.

  • Cindy October 22, 2016 at 2:24 pm

    15 minutes per workout? IM SO IN! But like Matthew pointed out above I have access to zero equipment. Are bodyweight exercises ok? I have a few that I want to throw together.

    • Coach Sahil October 22, 2016 at 2:31 pm

      Hell yeah Cindy, bodyweight exercises are just fine. But I would go through the workout a few times to make sure you’re actually pushing yourself. As an example, a bodyweight squat for 5 reps is basically nothing. I’d put on a backpack or find a way to make it more challenging. Or maybe do 10 reps per set.

  • Meghan C October 22, 2016 at 2:26 pm

    This is just the type of workout I’ve been looking for Sahil! Great work. My question is, what’s the best way to track my protein intake?

    • Coach Sahil October 22, 2016 at 2:33 pm

      There are many options Meghan, but the easiest one is to download the app called “MyFitnessPal” and just enter the foods you eat. It will automatically calculate the total amount of protein, carbs and fats you’ve eaten for the day. Plus their food library is HUGE so entering info is not only easy but there’s a high chance you’ll be able to enter most foods.

      Good luck!

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