How to Workout in 30 Minutes or Less: The Movie Threat

Quick Tips

Last night “dinner and a movie night” at our place.  After a long weekend, yes, a long weekend… I couldn’t wait to lay on the couch and mindless watch Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows.  It was a good flick.  I enjoy the modern-day film that is shot in the old day setting.  Know what I mean?

Prior to the dinner and movie, my girlfriend Amanda gave me the challenge of ripping out a movement training session in 30 minutes or less.  She knows that when I go downstairs to train, I typically procrastinate the workout by writing while I am down there.  There is something about being in our training area that puts me in a frame of mind to write.  I can’t say it’s a bad thing, but when I am on a time crunch, it usually delays whatever we have planned.

Amanda was nearly finished with dinner (fajitas, so good!) when I told her that I was heading down for a workout.  To her credit, that is a bullshit move on my part heading down with dinner so close to being done, but I am always confident that I can get a quality workout done in short time.  Especially if it’s going to be work capacity based.

“I bet you can’t finish a workout before 7:01pm”, she says.

I looked at the clock, it was 6:31pm.

“I will take that challenge”, I said.

“But there is one more thing I would like to add to this.  If you don’t finish the workout by 7:01pm, we are going to watch my movie, What to Expect When You’re Expecting”, she adds with a grin on her face.

Screen Shot 2013-02-04 at 5.15.20 PM

I took the challenge and without thinking twice (still in my scrubs from the work day), I grabbed my computer and sprinted downstairs.  The computer is very necessary for an enjoyable workout I will have you know.  It’s provide me the advantage of being able to listen to whatever music I want, and with my premium subscription to Spotify, my playlists are rock solid.  No music, or worse yet slow music or bland tunes during a training session are brutally painful.

Here is an example of one of my Spotify playlists…

Macklemore- The Heist Spotify

Fueled by a deep burning desire to not watch her awful chick flick, I quickly traded by scrubs for a workout shirt and short, filled the water bottle and got my Macklemore playlist going.  Macklemore is a stud.

Here he is in Breckenridge, CO at the Dew Tour… stud:


Once I made it to the basement, I made of list of quick priorities for the workout:

1)  Grease my t-spine and hips

2)  Jump Rope to increase my core temp and basically sweat (some skill practice here).

3)  Unloaded and sub-maximal loaded movements that would act as a primer to the demands of the workout itself.

4)  Kettlebell Complex (my staple metabolic workout)

5)  Any time leftover would be devoted to “anti-core training” of my choosing.


I got it done.

Crisis avoided.

It was a great reminder of what a person can accomplish in a ridiculously short amount of time.  I enjoyed competing against the clock.  I weeded out any unnecessary exercises and created priorities for the training session by asking myself, “With the time that I have, what are the most impactful activities that I should incorporate into this workout”.  It created a focus to what was most important.

Strategy with training is important, but people tend to over think their training sessions I find.

Keep it simple…

—> Choose movements you can manage, ideally:

  • Squats, hip hinging lifts, presses, pulls, drags, carrying, “anti”core work, etc.
  • Go total body to elicit a larger training effect.

—> Choose reps/sets or rounds to perform:

  • 3-5 sets/rounds of 8-10 repetitions per movement.

—> Choose rest periods that make sense to both your goals and your conditioning level:

  • Beginner: 60-90 sec 
  • Novice:  45-60 sec
  • Advanced: 45 sec or less

Basic strength based movements using sub-maximal loads at a rep/set or round type format,  organized with challenging rest periods between movements can do wonders for people.  

Forget complicated workouts.  Keep it simple and safe.  There will be plenty of reward from a well designed simple and safe workout.

Are there some pretty awesome exercises that aren’t basic?  Yes, absolutely.  But my point is that you can get one hell of a training effect, create some serious change and work your way to earning the right to integrate those higher level movements into your program.

—>  Warning:  Here comes an awful attempt at an analogy…

If you sign up for a marathon you start your race at the starting line, the 0 mile mark, and you run 26.2 miles to the finish line.  They don’t drop you off at the 24 mile mark and still call it a Marathon.  That’s my awful analogy for skipping over essential progressions in movement.

Now, not every training session is like this for me.  I spend a great deal of time working on the quality of my movement, making sure that I avoid nagging injuries like low back pain or shoulder issues.  I value my mobility, stability and bodily symmetry.  When things get jacked up and become restricted, unstable or asymmetric, the body starts compensating for those issues and injuries begin to surface.  A small amount of proactive interventions goes a long ways in preserving the integrity of one’s body.

—>  Eating isn’t the only thing but it is everything…

Plain and simple: my eating is on track.  I don’t feel the need to “kill” myself during each and every training session.  In fact, there is zero need for me to bury myself in each and every training session.  Eating the right foods makes training more enjoyable and vice versa because I do not feel the need deprive myself of “vice-like” foods or “fun training”.

If you looked at my diet, you’d notice a couple of things without digging too deep:

1)  I eat a lot of vegetables.

2)  I drink a lot of water.

Veggies keep me full while delivering vital nutrients and water keeps me hydrated.  Pure and simple.  The benefits of staying hydrated go well beyond what I care to touch on in this post… so I will refer out for that:

All About Dehydration

You’ll notice that the link says “dehydration”.  Dr. Berardi and his team at Precision Nutrition are the best (in my opinion), so I jumped on that article.  At the very least you’ll get an idea of why you should avoid entering a dehydration-like state.  There’s a fair bit of science in the article for those of you that enjoy that sort of thing.

So, what did we learn from my movie threat experience?…

—> Anyone can get a workout done in about 30 minutes or less and feel damn good about what they accomplished<—

… and What to Expect When You’re Expecting is worth avoiding. 🙂


Cheers to less being more!





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