Going to the gym and training doesn’t need to be a chore that eats into your day, when you’d rather
be doing other things. What if you could get into the best shape of your life by dedicating as little as
1 hour to training each week? With HIIT training using free weights combined with a well-balanced
diet aimed at assisting muscle recovery, this can in fact be a reality. I’m a city professional and also a
personal trainer but I still make it work. I will be talking about how I train and keep pushing my limits
physically while working 9-5.
Having graduated from Loughborough University with a sport and exercise science degree and
witnessed the time demands of a corporate job first-hand, I’ve been able to use myself and clients as
Guinea-pigs in recent years. Applying and prescribing high intensity interval training (HIIT) protocol
using free weights has led to staggering results, with just 20 minutes of training each day, 3 to 5
times per week using free weights. I’ve witnessed investment bankers morph into amateur
bodybuilders and accountants roll back the clock 15 years!
The premise behind getting results using the HIIT format is that you push the muscles to – near
enough – complete exhaustion, have a slight recovery; get some oxygen back in the system and then
go again. Typically this is done using conventional aerobic equipment, such as an exercise bike or
rowing machine, leading to a huge oxygen deficit and excessive post-exercise oxygen consumption
(EPOC), which can boost fat metabolism for up to 72 hours! This is great news if you want to scale
down that post-Christmas gut, but what if you’re looking to pack on some muscle in a short amount
of time? That’s where this training format really gets to work, providing both the stimulus to
torch fat and build muscle.
I intentionally set these workouts up to hit the big muscles in the body as the primary focus. Training
major muscle groups such as the legs, back and chest by definition gives you the foundation for
developing a muscular physique, secondary muscles will also be targeted later on in the workout.
As with all these sessions the aim is to incorporate as many of the muscles across the body as
possible and create a huge oxygen deficit. A session such as this will dramatically boost your heart
rate and increase your metabolism both during and for up to 72 hours post-workout.
Each of the workouts listed below require 10 reps on each of the exercises, moving – with no break –
onto the next exercise/s listed. Once one rotation is complete, take a 1-minute rest before going
again, this will be repeated for 8 sets. Begin training using this format by lifting 50%/55% of your ‘1
rep max’ for each of these exercises.
The initial programme begins with three sessions a week, set out in a working week format:
Monday: Deadlifts | Bench press | Bicep curls
The major muscle groups this session will hit include: erector spinae (lower back), hamstrings,
glutes, chest and biceps.
Tuesday – Rest
Wednesday: Squats | Military Press | Skullcrushers
What muscles are we targeting? Quads, Hamstrings. Glutes, Shoulders and Triceps.
Thursday – Rest
Friday: Leg Press | Barbell Row | Leg Raises
What muscles are we targeting? Quads, Hamstrings, Lats, Abdominals.
Weekends – Active recovery/Rest
Log your lifts!
Like anything, in order to be able to measure success you’ll need to create and monitor a tangible
variable. The visual changes that you notice each day in the mirror is one way of doing this, but you
should also track the amount of weight you’re able to lift.
You’ll start by lifting 50%/55% of your one rep max for each exercise listed, however over time the
amount of weight you can lift for each of these exercises will increase as your muscles develop and
strengthen, therefore you’ll need to track your progress and adjust your weights accordingly.
It’s also advisable to change the exercises within each session over time to keep adding variety and
helping your body break plateaus. Aim to change each exercise when you notice lack of progress
with the amount of weight lifted, however still aim to hit the major muscle groups. A good example
would be to swap the flat bench press with an incline bench press, or swapping the barbell row with
a lat pull down.