The Ultimate Time-Crunched Workout

Blog Post

As a personal trainer, I have worked on some on the biggest films made in recent years. I don’t say this to gloat, for me it is just part and parcel of the work I do. It might sound glamorous, but the pressure put on me and the actors I work with to deliver sometimes extreme results is incredible.

The kind of movies I work on have budgets touching $200 million or more! The magnitude of these productions is genuinely mind-blowing. With that kind of money on the table and audiences the world over ready to make or break a movie, the pressure is on in every single department. The actors have to look their very best. They are the ones leading the charge on the film and it will be their image seen on billboards, posters and adverts so they have to look their absolute best. That’s where I come in. 

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It might seem like I have all the time in the world to get them in tip-top condition, but that is very rarely the case. The time pressures they face are enormous. Sure it looks glamorous from the outside, but the reality is very different. They’re people, just like you and me, and what is expected of them can get pretty extreme. If you think that the studio books training time into their working day, you would be sadly mistaken.

Time is money in that industry, more so than probably any other, and any training that is needed has to be done in the actors ‘spare’ time. In my experience, when a movie is shooting, this time can be anything from 4:30am to 11pm. 

When the actor is working a 12 hour day and has to fit training around this, I have to be smart with the session’s format and duration to optimise the time we have. Sometimes there is a decision to be made between sleep and training. Literally. Sleep, as you’ll know, plays it’s own role in the body’s recovery so that decision isn’t as simple as it sounds.

Do I cut the session by 30 minutes or get up 30 minutes earlier? Do I half the session time and get home at 9pm instead of 9:30pm? These genuine situations result in the editing of sessions and the creation of training programs we can swap to, depending on the circumstances we find ourselves in. They ensure an effective session in a short time frame. Never think because of lack of time you should skip training altogether. However much (or little) you have, there are things you can do.

One of my best sessions for making the most of even the most time-crunched schedule looks like this. It’s a three-part workout but can be done in a little over 30 minutes. I’m sure we can all find half-an-hour spare if we’re honest.

Part One - 50 Club (Duration 25 mins)

  • Trap-bar deadlifts
  • Dumbbell bench press
  • Bodyweight rows
  • Dumbbell shoulder press

How to do the - 50 Club - Total Body

You pick a weight you can lift 12 times for the first set.

You take it in turns to reach 50 reps in as many sets as it takes.

Your rest is while your partner works, and absolutely no more!! (or 35 second if you are training by yourself)

A few simple rules

You do your maximum number of reps on each set.

If you reach more than 12 on the first set, it only counts as 12 and
you have to increase the weight.

If you don't reach 12 make slightly lighter of the next set.

The weight should never be decreased (apart from if set one doesn't reach 12) even if towards the end you are down to threes and fours.

Part Two – Tabata (Duration 4 mins) - Use: Spin Bike, Airdyne or Rowing Machine

Tabata is a high-intensity, but very short, exercise routine with enormous fitness and weight loss benefits. It can be used for core strength as well as resistance training. It’s designed to raise your heart-rate and metabolism very quickly. There’s no specific training, but for example, it could be a 20-second sprint followed by 10 seconds of rest. Think interval training but with very short intervals.

Part Three – Stretch (Duration 3 mins)

It’s easy, especially when time is at a premium, to forgo stretches, but they can be a very useful part of your quick workout. Stretching is as important to elongate your muscles to improve your range of motion so don’t underestimate it.  

The skills I have gained working with actors over the years I have used to build a very successful online personal training business. The measure of success for me is the results that each and every one of my members makes.

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