The 60 Minute Training Week

There are countless events that interfere with our ability to complete a comprehensive training program. Whether it is from a full plate of responsibilities at home or an overwhelmingly busy week of work, we have all gone through periods of time when physical training gets pushed to the back burner. While it is typical for a workout to last 60 minutes on any given day, it is just as typical to meet someone who only has 60 minutes to workout in an entire week. It often seems that the greatest consistency in most recreational exercisers schedule is the inconsistency of that schedule. If you always have the time that you need to train, consider yourself lucky. My bet is that if you spend enough time on this planet life will eventually suck you up and you'll have a 60 minute training week. When you do, you'll need to ask yourself "If I only have 60 minutes per week to train, what will I do?" For starters you'll need a sensible weekly plan, an effective approach for managing your important training variables such as volume and intensity, and you'll need to select exercises that make the best use of your time.

Planning a Weekly Schedule

If you are only able find 60 minutes within a week to train, the reality of your situation is that you probably won't have 60 minutes in any given day to complete a long workout. You'll need to spread your efforts out across the week. I'd suggest committing yourself to three 20 minute workouts per week, preferably spread out across the week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday). This will provide you with an effective weekly training frequency. You'll never go more than one or two days between training sessions, which will help to prevent detraining and unwanted muscular soreness from an extended hiatus between training sessions. You'll also get a day of rest between training sessions to allow for proper recovery and adaptation to occur.

Intensity- The Important Training Variable When Crunched for Time

Volume, the amount of work performed in a training program, is one of the fundamental variables we manipulate when designing a training program. A high training volume, whether it is logging a lot of running miles per week or performing multiple weight training exercises for a great number of sets and repetitions, can be a powerful stimulus for improvements in fitness. When you are crunched for time, you won't have any chance of accumulating the amount of training volume necessary to produce a positive physical change. However the training variable that doesn't need much time to effectively impact is intensity. Intensity is the degree of effort required relative to your absolute maximum effort such as the amount of weight lifted on an exercise relative to your one-repetition maximum or your running pace relative to your top running speed. It has been demonstrated that training with a high intensity has an incredibly powerful impact on our ability to maintain or even enhance our fitness, both strength and conditioning, without requiring significant training volume. In the short-term you can still make gains when crunched for time if you can train with enough intensity.

Prioritization- Effective Exercise Selection

Even with all the time in the world to train, there will always be more useful exercises that you'll want to do in your training than you'll be able to squeeze into your routine. When you are crunched for time, you'll need to do an even better job of prioritizing your needs and include only the most effective exercises in your training plan. Making a generalization about most people's needs, you'll want to maintain or build both strength and cardiovascular endurance. You'll need to come up with the best weight training exercises that will allow you to maintain total body strength, and when you do them you'll need to train with great intensity by going heavy. Running sprint intervals would be the mode of exercise I'd use to meet my endurance needs since you don't even need to get to a gym to complete your training.

Here is what I would do in a 60 minute training week if I had either a strength or endurance goal.

Example Crunched for Time Programs

Strength Emphasis

Monday

  • Warm Up (5 minutes)- Include BW Squats, lunges, push ups, and a few sets of a barbell back squat and press with an empty barbell.

  • Back Squat- after a few progressive weight warm up sets perform 3 sets of 5 reps with a heavy weight, 60-90 seconds rest between sets.

  • Overhead Press- after a few progressive weight warm up sets perform 3 sets of 5 reps with a heavy weight, 60-90 seconds rest between sets.

Wednesday

  • Warm Up (5 minutes)- Slow paced jog that increases in speed slightly each minute so that you are running at a ¾ speed effort for the last minute of the warm up.

  • Sprint Intervals- 30 seconds as fast as possible, 30 seconds very slow, 60 seconds as fast as possible, 60 seconds very slow, 90 seconds as fast as possible, 90 seconds very slow. Complete the entire sprint interval sequence twice.

Friday

  • Warm Up (5 minutes)- Include BW Squats, lunges, push ups, and a few sets of a barbell RDL with an empty barbell.

  • Deadlift- - after a few progressive weight warm up sets perform 3 sets of 5 reps with a heavy weight, 60-90 seconds rest between sets.

  • Weighted Pull Ups- after a few progressive weight warm up sets perform 3 sets of 5 reps with a heavy weight, 60-90 seconds rest between sets.

Endurance Emphasis

Monday

  • Warm Up (5 minutes)- Slow paced jog that increases in speed slightly each minute so that you are running at a ¾ speed effort for the last minute of the warm up.

  • Sprint Intervals- 30 seconds as fast as possible, 30 seconds very slow, 60 seconds as fast as possible, 60 seconds very slow, 90 seconds as fast as possible, 90 seconds very slow. Complete the entire sprint interval sequence twice.

Wednesday

  • Warm Up (5 minutes)- Include BW Squats, lunges, push ups, and a few sets of a barbell back squat and press with an empty barbell.

  • Back Squat- after a few progressive weight warm up sets perform 3 sets of 5 reps with a heavy weight, 60-90 seconds rest between sets.

  • Superset Overhead Press with Weighted Pull Ups- after a few progressive weight warm up sets of each exercise perform 3 sets of 5 reps with a heavy weight for each exercise, no rest between each exercise, 60 seconds rest between each superset.

Friday

  • Warm Up (5 minutes)- Slow paced jog that increases in speed slightly each minute so that you are running at a ¾ speed effort for the last minute of the warm up.

  • Sprint Intervals- 2 minutes as fast as possible, 1 minute very slow. Complete five sets of the sprint interval sequence.

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