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How To Save Time and Still Have An Effective Workout

Time is money has never been a more relevant sentiment with our hectic society of today - and for a lot of people this is certainly the case. What with kids to nurture, jobs to work, meals to cook and families to spend time with.

To get fit and healthy takes time, patience and consistency - and there's no getting around this fact. But is there another more efficient way to about it without having to spend our lives training…?

Today I want to look at a specific training variable you can throw in to your training routine to help counteract this issue.

It’s known as multiple set training - and it's a great training method I give to my more experienced clients.

The idea is that you carry out an exercise, and then without resting you carry out another exercise immediately afterwards.

Multiple set training aka paired set training or complex set training can be broken down into the following categories:

Super-sets (back to back exercises)

Tri-sets (3 exercises back-to-back)

Giant sets (4 or more exercises back-to-back)

Now there’s a few ways to go about this.

You can work opposing muscle groups known as the agonist-antagonist paired sets. As an example you could do dumbbell rows to work your back and biceps, followed immediately by dumbbell chest press to work your chest and triceps.

Or, you could train a single muscle back-to-back by doing a standing shoulder press with a barbell followed by dumbbells in a seated shoulder press.

You could even throw in some bicep curls for a third exercise, and then finally an ab crunch for a fourth, fifth, or sixth option if you’re feeling brave.

Why is this a good training method?

The obvious benefit is that you save a bunch of time and allow yourself to include more volume in your training, while still getting all of the results as you would in a normal workout [1].

Not everyone wants to be in the gym for 2 hours a day 5 days per week because we have lives to live. For the average person that wants to lose a bit of weight and create a good shape to their body without hours of commitment, this solves this problem.

Further to this - many ‘traditional’ programmes follow the same basic structure of set, rest, set, rest, set, rest.

This can be a bore for a lot of people because it can be over-simplified, routine and unchallenging.

Instead of training you end up chatting to other gym users, being idol, looking on social media, texting, sitting, staring at people on the treadmills, flexing in the mirror or anything else you consider time-wasting.

Instead of being idol, you remain focused because you are ‘training’ more than you are sitting doing nothing.

You will also expend more energy. A lot of you out there train as a tool to increase energy expenditure for fat loss goals which is great. But a lot of programmes follow the traditional pattern as mentioned above and you don’t really get much done from an energy expenditure perspective.

A routine hour programme may only have you expending 15-20 minutes of energy. Not to say that you have to be sweating our butt off in order to define a successful workout. Far from it. But adding back-to-back sets does give you the option if you feel that your session is too easy and could do with a bit more volume.

You eliminate programming boredom by mixing things up instead of just doing one exercise for 3 sets and then moving on to the next one.

The limitations

Probably the most common reason people don’t use paired set training is if you train in a crowded gym then it’s simply not practical because there’s not enough room or equipment to do it in. You may end up annoying a lot of gym users because you have become that person that is hogging all of the equipment!

You also fatigue quicker which can result in poor technique and the possibility of increasing injury risk.

It’s also probably not a good idea to do them on bang-for-your-buck intense exercises like the squat or deadlift. Mostly because it’s already a demanding exercise and you may not be able to fully recover and perform your best. Bench press to horizontal row is fine as you are only really working the upper body so give this a go if you want to mix up your upper body day.

And really - for newbies - just going to the gym on a consistent basis and performing some basic movements for a couple of months is all you need to worry about.

Get this down and then start to play around with training variables once you are more conditioned and more experienced in movement patterns and carrying out exercises.

See what works for you!

Some people despise them and some people swear by them. Find out what works for you. If you are unsure then make sure you give them at least half a chance which means anything longer than 6 weeks.

If I’m strapped for time then I’ll throw in some super-sets for the isolation exercises at the end of my training session. Sometimes I do it for fun because I enjoy them. There’s nothing quite like a biceps to triceps super-set but that’s just me!

For more super tips and advice from the world of training and nutrition head to Facebook or Instagram @richardangelofficial


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20847705

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