I'm a father of 3 amazing kids. Twin boys and a daughter. When my twins we born, I found myself with no time to get to the gym for long workout sessions. I barely had time to go to the bathroom, let alone wait around for someone to finish a set on the bench press rack at the gym!
So I came up with something faster. Much faster. Instead of an hour going to the gym, I can do this in workout in under 15 minutes. Usually around 12 minutes. I call it the 350.
I do this simple (but not easy) routine every other day, alternating between cardio and strength workouts. My pattern looks like this:
- Monday: The 350
- Tuesday: 30 minutes of cardio
- Wednesday: The 350
- Thursday: 30 minutes of cardio
- Friday: The 350
- Saturday: 30 minutes of cardio
- Sunday: Rest
The beauty of "The 350" is that it requires no equipment but a pull up bar and your body weight. (And if you're a beginner, you should do my foundation version called "The 300" where you don't even need the pull up bar.)
Here's the routine:
- SECTION 1: 5 pullups
- SECTION 2: 10 air squats
- SECTION 3: 10 pushups
- SECTION 4: 10 bicycle crunches
Do all 4 sections in order, with no rest. That's one set. Repeat that pattern for 9 more sets. In just 15 minutes you'll have done:
- 50 pullups
- 100 squats
- 100 pushups
- 100 core
- = 350 reps
For "The 300", just remove the pullup section.
The concept behind this routine is that you alternate different body areas (muscle groups) so you can eliminate the need to rest between sets.
That's how I do an hour long workout in just 15 minutes (including a few minutes of warm up with jumping jacks, jumping rope or sun salutations).
Here's why you can get so much done in so little time.
After I finish the pull ups in Section 1, my upper body is spent, but my legs are fine so I can easily do the lower body squats in Section 2.
After my squats in Section 2, my lower body is fatigued but my upper body is ready for action to do push ups in Section 3 because it's been recovering while I did the squats.
Also, the pull ups in Section 1 used my back and biceps, while the push ups in Section 3 are going to use my chest and triceps, so it's a different set of muscles that I haven't been using yet. They are ready to go.
Finally, I move to Section 4 which is core. While I let my arms and legs recover, I do core moves like bicycle crunches.
Now I'm ready to start over with round 2. Then 3. Then 4. Until I get to 10.
15 minutes later you'll be exhausted. You'll be sweating. And you'll actually be grinning because you just did 100 pushups. And a 100 squats. And a 100 core moves. And 50 pull ups.
I do this routine when I'm on the road for work. When I'm on vacation. Just about anywhere. It's the most compact, efficient answer to the "But I don't have time to exercise..." complaint that I used to tell myself.
I always have 15 minutes if I'm honest with myself.
If you are just getting started, I have an alternate version of this routine called "The 300." It's the same routine without Section 1 (pull ups). It's very similar, and a better place to start (especially if you're not currently doing pull ups).
Please give this a try and let me know your feedback. There are a lot of other nuances to this approach that I haven't covered like alternating different exercises in each section, adding more resistance to each movement, incorporating balance training into the moves, etc. I'll cover those finer points in future posts.
For now, try to just get started by working through this sequence starting where you are today. You many only be able to do 4 half squats to start. Or you may need to do just 5 kneeling pushups in each set. And maybe you only do 3 rounds in the beginning.
When I first started this routine, I'd struggle to do 1 pull up in each round. Then I got to 2. And stayed there for months. Then I could do 3. And so on. It takes time. There's no shortcut.
That's ok. It's more important to build the habit of following this routine, regardless of the intensity. That will come with time. Right now you're just building the identity of someone who makes daily exercise a part of who you are.
Once you feel the pull to do something every day, adding more intensity will come naturally. The worst thing you can do is make your workout so hard in the beginning that you put off doing it. Or you get injured. Both are bad news. Start small, but be consistent. You'll be amazed at what you can do.
Looking back on the past 12 years of following this simple exercise approach (and eating my high protein oats for breakfast most days), I've been able to keep my weight right where I want it (around 175 pounds) with amazing consistency. It feels automatic now. And I'm not spending hours at the gym. I'm hooked.
And if you have any questions, please ask! In addition to being a health food inventor, I'm also a Certified Personal Trainer and love to talk about exercise! If you would like a copy of the workout tracker spreadsheet, just let me know. Here's what it looks like:
Be good to your self!