Ultra Abbreviated Training

I have only an old barbell set, a chin up bar and dip stand, and at max only two non-consecutive days per week to workout and only slightly over 30 minutes a day.

Can you give me a full body ultra abbreviated program to hit all the muscle groups, specially to build a thick and wide back and powerful hamstrings which are my lagging body parts?

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How Many Sets
by: Lee

Hi Josh,

Thanks for your question. You are right - just three work sets of each exercise is enough.

For example, three sets of 8 repetitions puts you in the sweet spot for strength and growth (20+ reps per exercise). And you can easily boost your workout intensity by following Iron Guru Vince Gironda's training rule.

Here is what you do:

Reduce your rest periods between each set to 30 seconds.

That's it. So simple. Yet this easy-to-follow strategy works like a charm.

Good luck!

Question on Sets
by: Josh

How many sets would you recommend for each of the three exercises? I know with abbreviated training you're not about using high volume, just high intensity, but would three intense sets of each exercise be enough, especially if you're only using that full body workout every 5-7 days?

Barbell Hack Squat
by: Lee

The barbell hack squat is a great exercise for building the quads. However, a word of caution: please be careful if you raise your heels when performing your hack squats, as this can sometimes lead to problems with the knees. If possible, and ankle flexibility isn't an issue for you, try to perform this squat variation with your feet flat.

And what about high reps for your upper body?

I personally use a mid-rep range for dips and chin ups (5-8) and often go low (3-5). High reps for these two movements is also worth your consideration, as they help build muscular endurance in addition to strength. For example, senior lifter Clarence Bass often mixes and matches his repetition ranges to shock new growth (20+ reps) - so high reps for your upper body is definitely worth a try.

What matters most, is that you use a slow and steady poundage progression when lifting, regardless of your repetition range. A kilo or so added to your dipping belt every few weeks soon adds up, resulting in impressive gains.

Good luck!

High Reps for Upper Body
by: Anonymous

Can I include Barbell Hack Squats for Quad development? And do high repetitions on Dips and chinups, reps > 8 on a slow poundage progression system, build muscle faster than reps of 5?

And by the way thanks a lot for the info on the deadlift!

Super Abbreviated Training for Ultra Hardgainers
by: Lee

You can get a great super abbreviated workout with just a chin up bar, dip stand and barbell set. Indeed, these 3 training tools alone can build some serious muscle and get the job done in less than 30 minutes a day.

So what exercises should you choose?

If you want to build an impressive back and powerful hamstrings, some variation of the deadlift exercise should feature in your workout - my personal favourite is the stiff leg deadlift, as this movement hits the hamstrings hard.

Also, don't exercise to failure in this movement, as you will hurt your lower back. Instead, always keep a repetition or two in your locker and cycle your efforts by adding a rep or so each workout.

To train your arms and grip (and get a terrific fitness workout), try using a high repetition range of 15-20...just one set of this core exercise worked hard, will provide ALL the encouragement your body requires to grow.

And for your upper body workout?

You need look no further than chin ups and dips. These two movements combined will easily take care of your chest, upper back and shoulders.

How often should you use this full body workout? This might sound like muscle building heresy, but only train once every 5-7 days. Since the deadlift is such a beast exercise, this movement really can't be worked any harder or longer than that for the regular girl or guy.

Your sample super abbreviated workout therefore looks something like this:

  • Deadlift

  • Parallel bar dips

  • Chin ups.

For more training ideas, see Abbreviated Workouts

Good luck with your routine, and please keep us posted!


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