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Are Shorter Workouts Better?

Are Shorter Workouts Better?Some Science Suggests That Less Time in the Gym Equals More Muscles

Have you ever heard the phrase "work smarter, not harder"? Well, there's a small cabal of fitness experts out there who are trying to apply that wisdom in the gym. Some of them even claim you can get an elite athletic workout in as little as 15 minutes twice per week (and they are writing best-selling books to back it up, too). But are these hacks just selling a cheap gimmick in order to make a quick buck? Or is there something substantial to their claims? MuscleHelp decided to look into this further - and you won't believe what we found!

The Theory Behind Shorter, Less Frequent Workouts

The workout itself is pretty simple. it consists of:

  • Picking 5-7 compound exercises
  • Picking a weight which is 60%-75% of your ORM (one rep max) for each exercise
  • Performing each exercise for at least 60 but no more than 90 seconds to failure (don't count your reps - they aren't important!)
  • Moving on to the next exercise with very little rest in between

This workout should only be performed twice per week; on your days off, you are encouraged to stay active but do not strain yourself with exceedingly vigorous activity

Performing compound exercises for a short time using heavy weights taps into something called your type 2-b muscle fibers. These muscle fibers are rarely ever utilized, especially if the majority of your exercise consists of steady-state cardio. You can only make the magic happen if you force these type 2-b muscle fibers to activate.

Human evolution has designed the body to only use these special muscle fibers in emergency situations. Because of this special status, the body reacts to their activation with a very specific and unique hormonal response. These hormones play a very important role in protein synthesis and muscle formation in order to better prepare your body for the next "emergency". These hormones include things like growth hormone, IGF-1, testosterone, and more.

You are only supposed to perform this main workout twice per week, and your workout shouldn't take any longer than 15 to 20 minutes. It's important to keep your rest time between exercises short in order to maintain a high intensity level and keep the type 2-b muscle fibers engaged. It's also important not to overtrain. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't stay fairly active on your "rest" days. You can play golf, go on a hike, or do whatever physical activity you like as long as it is not as intense as your main workout. Otherwise, those rest day activities could be counterproductive.

It's Not Just About Your Time in the Gym - Your Time in the Kitchen Counts, Too

Abs aren't made in the gym, they're made in the kitchen; to a lesser extent, these shorter fitness routines embrace this philosophy and add a dietary component to the mix. Our GetMuscleHelp fitness experts tend to agree with this philosophy, regardless of what type of exercise program you prefer.

The diet plan recommended by those who preach this fitness program is a low-carb one. They don't focus specifically on keto or Atkins or paleo or carnivore; they don't even recommend a specific number of carbohydrates to restrict yourself to. If you think about it, this makes sense. Everyone's body is different. Some people may need to restrict their carbs more drastically if they want to lose weight quickly, while others may be able to eat up to 100 carbs per day and still lose weight quickly but feel great. With these diet plans, you have the freedom to tailor it according to your specific needs.

But you shouldn't use that as an excuse to eat all the carbs you want. You need to be smart about it and make sure you're eating healthy carbs and not gorging on processed food. Here are some signs that you're not getting enough carbs on a restricted carbohydrate diet plan:

  • You frequently feel dizzy or lightheaded, especially upon standing
  • You struggle to get through your workouts
  • You suffer from brain fog or headaches, even after you have transitioned into a fat-adapted state

If you experience any of these symptoms, it's a good idea to increase your carb count by about 10 grams per day. So if you're eating 40 grams of carbohydrate but you don't feel good, up it to 50 grams per day and eat that way for about a week. If symptoms don't improve or don't improve enough, increase it by another 10 grams per day and experiment with that for another week. Just don't go overboard, or you may sabotage your progress. Some signs that you're eating too many carbs on a low carbohydrate diet include:

  • "Hangry" mood swings between meals
  • Daytime fatigue
  • Bloating
  • Weight gain
  • Progress plateaus

If you notice any or all of these symptoms after increasing your carbohydrate intake, you might want to dial it back down. The mood swings and the daytime fatigue are especially problematic because those are strong signals that your carbohydrate intake is throwing your metabolic hormones (leptin and ghrelin especially) out of balance. When these hormones are out of balance, it becomes extremely difficult to lose weight and build muscle. It's important to adjust your macronutrient balance so that you eat to satiation and don't have problems with appetite control. Effortless appetite control is a strong sign of good metabolic health.

Can You Take Supplements While Doing a Short Workout Fitness Program?

It all really depends on who you ask. Some people are very strict about the program and don't want you to deviate from their dogmatic teachings. Others are a little less strict and say that supplements are okay. If you're looking to use a good supplement, we humbly suggest you check out the Ultra Edge XL pre-workout supplement from us here at It gives you a mega dose of amino acids which are essential for building new muscles on a cellular level when you exercise. You can still make gains without it; but your progress will be painfully slow and difficult to notice.

It seems like these 15 minute workouts have some promise to them. The fact that it can cut your gym time down to a fraction of what it currently is while getting the same fitness benefits is almost worth its weight in gold. We think it's worth at least giving a try. But if it doesn't work for you, then come back and visit us at soon - we'll have more essential bodybuilding tips waiting for you!