The World's Best 30-Minute Home Workout

by Brad Shoenfeld, PhD, CSCS, CSPS, FNSCA - January 07, 2014 - with 0 Comments
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The World's Best 30-Minute Home Workout

You want to get in shape, right? But your time is limited and you don't have access to a gym.

Don't fret. This article will show you how to get a great workout in less than a half-hour – without any fancy equipment.

The first thing you need to know is that resistance training is the most important component of a fitness routine. "Resistance training" applies to any exercise where your muscles contract against an external load. The load can be achieved with anything from free weights to cables to machines to bands to body weight.

With consistent training, muscles ultimately adapt by becoming stronger and more developed.

Here's the best part: You only need to train for a matter of minutes to see major results. The key is to adhere to a concept called overload. Simply stated, overload means challenging your muscles beyond their present capacity.

In other words, you must work hard when lifting. The pink dumbbell cell-phone workout simply won't cut it. There has to be sweat and effort to promote an adaptive response.

I’ve designed a workout routine for maximum efficiency. It can be performed in the comfort of your own home; all you need are some dumbbells and your own body weight.

You'll perform five exercises for the major muscles each workout. All the exercises work large swaths of muscle. This is important on a couple of fronts.

First, it allows for a more time-efficient approach so that you can get in a workout pretty much any time you like. Moreover, it maximizes the metabolic effects of the routine, helping to burn more calories per unit of time.

And while you won't find any biceps curls or triceps kickbacks here, don't worry about firming up your arms; the presses and rowing movements will accomplish this task quite nicely.

The routine is designed to be performed three non-consecutive days a week (i.e. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays work well). If you're really time pressed, even two workouts a week will produce big results. Perform the exercises in the order suggested with as little rest as possible.

The agonist-antagonist arrangement of the exercises will allow the working muscle to rest in the next movement so that you will minimize fatigue. It should take you less than 10 minutes to go through the entire circuit. Ideally, perform 3 circuits. This will provide optimal results. But again, you'll get tremendous benefits from even a single circuit.

On Day 1, perform five reps per set; on Day 2 perform 10 reps; and on Day 3 perform 15 reps. The key is to challenge your muscles. Thus, you'll use heavier loads for the lower rep days. If you put in the effort, results are guaranteed.

The Exercises

FLAT DUMBBELL PRESS: Lie face-up on a flat bench (if you don't have a bench then simply lie on the floor) with your feet planted firmly on the floor. Grasp two dumbbells and, with your palms facing away from your body, bring them to shoulder level so they rest just above your armpits. Simultaneously press both dumbbells directly over your chest, moving them in toward each other on the ascent. At the finish of the movement, the sides of the dumbbells should gently touch together and the weights should be over the middle portion of your chest. Feel a contraction in your chest muscles and then slowly reverse direction, returning to the starting position.

ONE-ARM DUMBBELL ROW: Place your left hand and left knee on a stable object (such as a bench), right foot planted firmly on the floor. Grasp a dumbbell in your right hand with your palm facing you and let it hang by your side. Keeping your elbow close to your body, pull the dumbbell upward and back until it touches your hip. Feel a contraction in your upper back and then reverse direction, slowly returning to the starting position. Repeat with your left arm after finishing the desired reps on your right.

DUMBBELL SHOULDER PRESS: Sit at the edge of a flat bench or chair. Grasp two dumbbells and bring the weights to shoulder level with your palms facing away from your body. Slowly press the dumbbells directly upward and in, allowing them to touch together directly over your head. Contract your deltoids and then slowly return the dumbbells along the same arc back to the start position.

DUMBBELL SQUAT: Grasp two dumbbells and allow your arms to hang down by your sides, palms facing your hips. Assume a shoulder-width stance, toes pointing slightly outward. Keeping your core tight, slowly lower your body until your thighs are approximately parallel to the ground. When you reach a “seated” position, reverse direction by straightening your legs and return to the start position. 

STIFF-LEGGED DEADLIFT: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Grasp two dumbbells and let them hang in front of your body. Keeping your knees straight, slowly bend forward at the hips and lower the weights down until you feel an intense stretch in your hamstrings. Then, reverse direction, contracting your glutes as you rise upward to the starting position.

Brad Schoenfeld, MSc, CSCS, CSPS, is widely regarded as one of America's leading fitness experts. Brad has appeared on hundreds of television programs and has been featured in virtually every major fitness magazine. He is the best-selling author of 10 fitness books, including Women's Home Workout Bible. To learn more go to

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