The 13 Minute Weight Routine?

person holding barbell
Photo by Victor Freitas on

Do you dread your weight routine? Do you wish you had a quicker way to get in and get out of your weight workout in under 15 minutes?

I do. I really hate lifting weights now. I don’t know if it is just a phase, because I used to really like it. Now I just want to get in and get out as fast as possible. I don’t want to spend an hour or more lifting even though I have actually created a pretty decent home gym with a rack, a bench, and a fairly decent cable setup that somebody gave me. So I have been looking at alternatives. I may have found one.

According to some new research maybe there is a better, or at least a more efficient way. See all the original study information at: In this study:

Thirty-four healthy resistance-trained men were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 experimental groups: a low-volume group (1SET) performing 1 set per exercise per training session (n = 11); a moderate-volume group (3SET) performing 3 sets per exercise per training session (n = 12); or a high-volume group (5SET) performing 5 sets per exercise per training session (n = 11). Training for all routines consisted of three weekly sessions performed on non-consecutive days for 8 weeks.

Here were the surprising results:

Results showed significant pre-to-post intervention increases in strength and endurance in all groups, with no significant between-group differences.

Here is the conclusion:

Marked increases in strength and endurance can be attained by resistance-trained individuals with just three, 13-minute weekly sessions over an 8-week period, and these gains are similar to that achieved with a substantially greater time commitment. Alternatively, muscle hypertrophy follows a dose-response relationship, with increasingly greater gains achieved with higher training volumes.

I saw this and decided I was all in.  I wanted to try the one set workout to failure routine and see what happened. The problem was lifting to failure.

I almost always work out alone. Lifting to failure is dangerous without a spotter, and if you don’t have the best equipment for it. I am not so sure it is even a good idea anyway. After giving it a little thought I wondered if lifting to failure was absolutely necessary. So, I decided to give it a try but with one change. I would lift “close” to failure with some exercises, and stop before I get myself in trouble with some of the lifts where an injury was possible. I would do my maximum number of repetitions but just to the edge of failure. I would also switch some exercises to my cable setup. I do have the squat rack, and have a safety bar in place on it, but there is no need to be stupid about it. I also switched some of the exercises. Instead of the bench press from the classic flat bench I use my cable setup to do an upright bench. So I am doing some free weights, using the rack for some exercises, and the cable machine for others. Maybe that is not optimal but it is certainly safer.

One thing about it though. If you do it right you’re going to work out hard. You have to give it your all. Keep pushing yourself as long as it is healthy, and safe,  to do so. For example, I am very conservative with deadlifts – I don’t want to injure my back and I am not a bodybuilder anyway. Just trying to stay fit and healthy. I leave these workouts tired, but actually more energized, than in the routines I used to do. The right music helps too.

One disclaimer though.  I don’t have access to the whole article, just an abstract, and some short news articles sprinkled around in the web that are ambiguous or confusing as to the exact workout routines. However, I think I am close to what they did, and that the underlying principle is this: one hard workout to near failure with one set of repetitions sees nearly identical gains as those with multiple sets.  We’ll see. I will report back after eight weeks with the results.



Weight Lifting Charts and a Definitive Article on Keeping the Weight Off

I have two things to share with you this evening.  The first are some weight lifting charts I designed, and the second is an incredible article in Runners World by their editor at large Amby Burfoot.  I will cover the article first.

In the current issue of Runners World, April 2015,  the article A Weight-Loss Manifesto appears under Amby’s byline.  He has done his homework,  and written what amounts to a meta analysis conveyed in laypersons terms, on the science of weight loss,  There is a special emphasis on keeping the weight off which is, I think, harder than loosing it.  Like any magazine Runners World can run hot and cold.  This months issue, “The Weight-Loss Special,”  is one of the better ones. Now to those weight lifting charts I promised.

Through aging and by running I have lost some muscle mass.  So, I have started to get serious about weight training. I don’t want to bulk up, but I do want to stay functionally strong, and to tone.  Since I started to get serious about weight training I have been on a quest for the perfect weight lifting chart to keep track of progress.  I am a big fan of using metrics for fitness.

I had little success in finding a chart that made sense for me.  So I designed one for myself.  I have always liked the little half size clipboards for trips to the gym or even just working out at home.  They fit inside a gym bag and seem to be just the right size. Here is what my rig looks like with an older version of the form:

These half-sized clipboards are perfect for workouts at home or in the gym.

Below is the chart design I am currently using.  It is more generic than the previous one.

weight lifting chart portraitI make some copies and cut each copy in half.

I would prefer one with three workout routines per page, instead of two (after the chart is cut in half) but the lines just get too small and I really like that little half size clipboard.  But, I made a full size version, portrait orientation instead of landscape, for anybody that wants to use it. It has two rows of three workouts each.   Here is what it looks like:

weight lifting chart landscapeHere is a link to one of my cloud files where I keep the originals, and a pdf version of each one.  The files were created with Libre Office and are in .odt format.  I prefer open source software and the Linux operating system.  Besides Linux, Libre Office is available for Mac, and Windows.

My  next article will be on the perfect weight lifting setup for home, and some suggested resources.