BowTied Ox

- Strong As An Ox -

The 30 Minute Workout

This post is for the busy person that does not have much time to spend in the gym. I am going to put together a framework to get you in and out in under 45 minutes, and if you play your cards right, 20-30 minutes. All of this while still making great gains.

Many of you seemed very interested about how I am able to get an intense, effective workout done in roughly 30-45 minutes. To be completely honest I have never put any thought into actively trying to make my workouts more time efficient, it is simply a byproduct of my programming and habits in the gym.

I am going to put together a little cheat sheet and guide for those who would like to maximize their time in the gym. Get in, get out, quick, and still make effective gains.

There is a price we have to pay here. If our workouts are going to be shorter, we must make up for it with intensity.

First and Foremost

If time efficiency is your goal, you will not be doing what 90% of people do in the gym. You will move with a purpose, have a detailed plan of attack, no conversations, no hanging out, just lift.

I actually have zero problems with phones during the gym—I tweet and check crypto prices during my lift all the time. I’m able to do this during my 3-5 minutes of rest.

If you can’t do that and stick to your rest times or focus on your next set, then set the phone down or keep it in your pocket if you’re poor and use wired headphones (joke, I still use them when my airpods die).

Key here is a plan—I’m going to provide a workout suggestion—go in knowing exactly what you need to do, don’t go in there with no plan and try to wing it, you’ll waste a ton of time.


Before I jump into this, it’s important to realize that I can get a 30-45 minute workout using DC Training, so my guide there is awesome for more advanced guys.

However, for those maybe not ready for DC Training, I have a split suggestion that can work and still see amazing gains. We might be leaving a little on the table, but nonetheless, these are quick and effective.

Modified Push Pull Legs

This will run just like a regular Push Pull Legs plan, the only difference is we will be using 1 exercise per body part, 2 sets.

All sets must go to failure. We are making these workouts very short, but in return must be very intense. Again, this isn’t dangerous when done correctly, failure is simply when you can’t push another rep with good form.

This program would be done Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. On Friday You will do Monday’s Body Part, the next Monday you will do Tuesday’s Body Part, Tuesday will be Thursday’s Body Part, Thursday you will do Friday’s Body Part, etc. ad infinitum.

To make this extremely simple you just continue the order of Push Pull and Legs and go on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.

You will create two separate workouts—don’t over complicate this.

If Push 1 you do incline bench for chest, on Push 2 do something else like Machine Chest Press.


Chest: 2 Sets 6-10 Reps and 15-20 Reps

Shoulders: 2 Sets 6-10 Reps and 15-20 Reps

Triceps: 2 Sets 8-12 Reps and 15-30 Reps


Biceps: 2 Sets 8-12 Reps and 15-20 Reps

Forearms: 1 Set 10-20 Reps

Back Width: 2 Sets 6-10 Reps and 12-15 Reps

Back Thickness: 2 Sets 6-10 Reps and 12-15 Reps


Calves: 1 Set 10-15 Reps

Hamstrings: 2 Sets 8-12 Reps and 15-20 Reps

Quads: 2 Sets 6-10 Reps and 15-20 Reps

If we assume each set takes 1 minute, with 3-5 minutes rest, and 2 minutes between exercises, we can easily get our workouts done in 30 minutes, maybe 40 on pull day.

I have also seen this done in around 20 minutes, if we have closer to 3 minutes rest between sets.

Exercise Selection

Since we are going to be doing very few exercises—one per body part—it doesn’t make much sense if we do isolation/accessory movements for our exercises. We will want to opt for mult-joint, compound movements. This will also then use the other muscles in the muscle group as opposed to just the chest. Example: Chest fly vs a chest press—a fly uses almost solely chest whereas a chest press will use triceps and some shoulder.

Whether you choose to do free weight, dumbbell, or machine-based movements is solely up to your preference. I prefer to have a mix of exercises with free weights and machines for best bang for my buck.

My suggestion is to pick the exercises you can feel the most and are comfortable for you.

Loading is also a key consideration. I can load a machine shoulder press much more over time than I can a dumbbell lateral raise. In theory, this will lead to better muscle growth.


If you have more time and want to add more to your workout, I suggest throwing in 1 accessory set to failure per exercise.

This won’t add much time, and can definitely add more potential growth—completely optional as what you already have will be enough to stimulate growth.

I would add 1 set, 12-20 reps, to failure. This could be something like chest flies, cable lateral raises, cable tricep pushdowns, cable rows, leg extensions, etc. you get the point.

Putting It All Together

The main takeaways that anyone can gather whether following this modified program or not is this:

  1. The gym is a place of business—get in, put in the work, get out.
  2. Have a set plan, remove the guessing, know exactly what you need to do.
  3. A modified PPL split is the most effectivequick workout scheme I have found.
  4. This doesn’t have to be a plan you follow all the time—it can make for a very easy, time-saver workout when necessary.

So there you have it, this is and has been my go-to method if I am very crunched for time in the gym.

There will more than likely be a lot of questions on exercise selection, but ultimately I cannot tell you what exercises in this instance are going to work best for you and what equipment you have access to. Follow the points from the exercise selection section and you will be fine.