Make the most of your time, and get all of your gains with the least amount of time wasted in: The Most Efficient Workout Ever

Be sure to perform a light warm-up set of the first exercise in each compound set, using a weight you can lift for eight to ten reps.  For example, before performing five reps of your first set of squats, use a lighter weight and complete eight to ten squat reps.  Do a similar warm-up for the bench press and deadlift.

Use a rest of 45 seconds between each compound set, but take a one-minute break after the last compound set per exercise, before moving on to the next one.  Use this workout twice a week for one month (eight times in four weeks), bask in your unprecedented results, then switch up to a different training protocol.

Exercise                                              Sets                             Reps                Rest

SQUAT compound with                      3                                  5, 5, 5
LEG EXTENSION                              3                                  10, 10, 8*        45 secs. / 1 min.

BENCH PRESS compound with        4                                  7, 6, 5, 4
CABLE CROSSOVER                       4                                  10, 10, 8, 8*    45 secs. / 1 min.

DEADLIFT superset with                   3                                  5, 5, 5
LYING HAMSTRING CURL               3                                  10, 10, 8*        45 secs.

* = Perform all reps of the second exercise in each compound set at a higher speed, using a quick cadence – but always employing solid, safe technique.

Exercise Descriptions

SQUAT

Start:  Load a racked barbell to your desired weight and position yourself underneath it, such that the bar rests on your lower traps.  Grasp it with a wide overhand grip (even out to the collars is acceptable).  Step backward carefully two steps and spread your feet a little wider than shoulder width.  Keep your back straight, head in line with your spine, and prepare for the descent.

Execution:  When ready, break at the hips first (not your knees) and imagine you’re sitting down in a chair.  Continue flexing at the hips and knees until your quads are parallel to the floor.  Without pausing, forcefully extend your legs by pressing into the floor in an explosive manner and raise back up to the start.  Hold here in the top position for a full second before repeating the action for reps.

Pro Tip:  Competitive squatters suggest that you fix your eyesight on a spot on the ceiling and never take your vision off it, especially when you’re performing the ascent.

LEG EXTENSION

Start:  Set the weight stack to your appropriate load and sit upright on the top level of the apparatus.  Separate your feet to shoulder width and position them underneath the low rollers.  Some machines will have top rollers under which you would position your lower quads.  In this position, your legs should be at a square angle (90 degrees).  Grasp onto the handles on each side of the apparatus.

Execution:  Using force almost exclusively from your quads, slowly “kick” the low rollers upward until your legs are just about fully extended.  Try not to sway or lean back with your torso in order to make the ascent easier; keep the effort solely on your legs.  In the top position, pause for a split-second to resist the force of gravity, then using control lower the rollers back to the start.

Pro Tip:  This is a rare move where extending the range of motion does not actually help.  Don’t try to begin with your legs flexed tight (tucked backward), which causes shearing of your knees and can potentially lead to injury.

BENCH PRESS

Start:  Load a racked barbell to your desired resistance.  Lie on the bench facing up and slide yourself to where your eyes are in the same plane as the bar.  Draw your calves in 90 degrees, spread your legs a little wider than your shoulders, and secure your feet squarely on the floor.  Grasp the bar using an overhand grip at a width about 1.5 times your shoulders.  Retract your shoulder blades and squeeze your glutes.

Execution:  With your body “bridged” (secure in position), unrack the bar and draw it over your pecs with arms fully extended.  Using control, lower the bar to about the position of your lower pecs.  When in contact, pause for a split-second to avoid a bounce, then press the bar forcefully upward by expanding your chest and extending your arms.  In the peak position, hold for a full second then repeat the sequence for reps.

Pro Tip:  To keep your arms in an efficient power position, keep them close to your sides and tucked in to about 45 degrees; don’t let them flare outward, which reduces your strength.

CABLE CROSSOVER

Start:  Attach a D-handle to the cables on each side of the apparatus, set the pulleys to a high position, and select your desired loads. Stand tall underneath the middle of the apparatus with your feet separated in a wide split stance. Grasp each handle, one at a time, with your arms very nearly fully extended.  Most gyms have mirrors in front of this apparatus to help you check your positions.  Hinge forward about 25 degrees from your hips.

Execution:  With your body anchored in position, focus on using force from your chest before you begin the action (don’t try to slam the handles downward with your arms).  Start the motion by drawing the handles in a downward arc, such that your hands meet together in front of you, at the level of just below your waist.  Pause here to resist gravity pulling the cables back, then using control allow them to return to the start.

Pro Tip:  A high pulley position actually emphasizes your lower pecs; if you set the pulleys to a low position, you can emphasize your upper pecs more.

DEADLIFT

Start:  Load up the barbell with your desired resistance on the floor.  Approach the bar as closely as you can so it’s almost in contact with your lower shins.  Stand tall at first with back straight and head level, then separate your feet to shoulder width.  Flex at your hips and knees to reach down and grasp the bar in both hands using an overhand grip a little outside the width of your shoulders.  Lower your butt and tense your arms at full extension.

Execution:  Keep your body tight just prior to the move, especially your arms which will be simply acting as ‘meat hooks’ throughout the action.  Brace your traps and without tilting your neck back, focus your eyes on a spot on the ceiling.  Extend your legs by pressing into the floor and raise with the bar until you’re fully upright.  Here, the bar will be hanging in your arms at the height of your thighs.  Pause for a second, then repeat for reps.

Pro Tip:  The deadlift can also be performed using a “sumo” stance with your feet spread very wide, toes pointed outward and arms positioned inside your legs.  Experiment with both and observe the differences.

LYING HAMSTRING CURL

Start:  Set the weight stack to your desired weight.  Lie facing down on the top level of the machine and slide your heels underneath the rollers.  From here, elongate the rest of your body with chest firmly in contact with the top level.  Separate your feet slightly (or as comfortably as you can, depending on the type of machine) and grasp onto the support handles.  Keep your head in line with your spine and maintain this position.

Execution:  With all other body parts motionless, curl the rollers using force from your hamstrings in an upward arc until such point that your knees become flexed at 90 degrees.  Hold for a split-second in this peak position, then, using control, lower the rollers back to the start.  Stop the reversal just shy of locking out your legs and repeat for reps.

Pro Tip:  Keep the emphasis here on your legs by ensuring your thighs and abs to not raise up off the top level.