Fat Loss Workouts – Are You Wasting Your Time?

November 4, 2008

I hit my gym around 3-4 times per week, for about 45-60 minutes these days. What is funny is that I see a regular group of men and women who seem to be hanging out and working out for 2 hours at a time. There isn’t a sense of urgency in their workouts and as a result, they aren’t in very good shape and never experience any fat loss. How can someone spend so much time working out and get such poor results?
Beautiful East Indian Woman
[When I can’t find a suitable picture, I default to a picture of an attractive woman. Sorry, you won’t find too many gym shots on the blog…I think people should workout to look great outside of the gym, so that is what I’d rather highlight.]

A Poorly Planned Workout + More Time = Poor Results

Getting in great shape isn’t about putting in a lot of time. Getting lean and losing body fat is about putting in effort over a compressed time period. 5 sets done properly, are better than 30 sets done poorly.

Something to That Happens When You Limit Your Sets

If you know that you are only going to do 6-8 total sets for a body part, wouldn’t you want to make sure that you got the most out of each set? You would most likely focus a lot harder and “lift with purpose”. You wouldn’t throw the weight around for 10-15 reps…you would want to generate hard contractions with each and every rep. To get best results you would want to lift heavier for less reps (better quality contractions to build muscle definition).

The Same Increase In Focus Happens When Time Is Limited

If you were given only 15-20 minutes to do cardio, what would that workout look like? Well, you probably wouldn’t walk and do the ineffective “target heart rate” approach. You would do some hardcore HIIT and work up a sweat. In fact, if you have been doing 40 minute sessions…you would be pleasantly surprised at how effective a compressed HIIT session works.

What if You Could Only Workout 3-4 Times Per Week?

If you knew that you were limited to three 45 minute workouts each week, you would take an entirely different approach to your workout. In order to stay in amazing shape, you would be focused beyond belief. Your workout wouldn’t resemble anything along the lines of most people in the gym.

The Master of Getting Incredible Results With Short Workouts

I’m going to highlight a fitness expert in my next post that has the “compressed workout” theory down. His course is probably one of the only “workout courses” I will recommend on my blog. I do recommend a couple of diets and mention other fitness courses, but this guy gets my full endorsement. I don’t think there is a better approach to getting lean for people under time constraints.

Note: I have been communicating with this guy for a few weeks and asking him questions, etc. I hope to get a full-blown post done in a few days. He gives away a ton of free info as well, so stay tuned.

Update: Here it Is…
Turbulence Training – An Interview With the Top Rated Fat Loss Expert on How to Get the “Hollywood Body”

----> (New) Facebook Comments..."Cause all the cool kids are doin' it!"

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Adam Steer, Momentum Wellness November 4, 2008 at 3:30 pm

Hey Rusty,

Good post. Does your featured guest have a program that is named after a bumpy ride in an airplane…? 🙂

It is so true what you say about the gym rats who spend more time flapping their jaws than flexing their muscles. Years ago, I was a member at a gym where I now train a few clients. At almost any time of day, I would be almost sure to see this one guy at the gym. I think he lived there. Well, fast forward several years and the same is true. Almost every time I go to that gym to train a client that guy is there. I’ve never seen him break a sweat or lift anything (I’m not kidding). And he looks EXACTLY THE SAME as he did all those years ago. I can’t help thinking every time I see him that he could be doing something more productive with his time…

On a personal level, my main strength training session is once a week, 30-40 minutes, 2 exercises, 5-6 sets of 5 reps. But I go for broke every time. I do other satellite training around that of course during the rest of the week, but that is the main attraction and the money session.

And as far as cardio goes, the best results I’ve seen with my clients comes from 2-3 sessions of 15-25 minutes consisting of “metabolic conditioning” type training. This mixes various training modalities (KBs, Clubbells, bodyweight exercises, etc) into circuits using various protocols. It has my clients melting away before my very eyes…

Great points as always…


Bill November 4, 2008 at 4:16 pm

Could please post what your typical workout week split is?

chris - zen to fitness November 4, 2008 at 4:26 pm

it’s all about the intensity and going hard. I have found some of my best fat loss results have come when incorporating 2-3 HIIT sessions a week with some intense circuit training. With all that I was spending hardly anytime working out…..as they day “go hard or go home”

Andrew R November 4, 2008 at 4:40 pm


100% dead on!! People who workout in the 2 hour format not only cripple themselves from seeing true results, but they also make it so no one else can utilize the machines that they are hogging!! It’s straight up frustrating!

Can’t wait for the post on the compressed workout theory.

Thanks for the post!

All the Best,

Andrew R

Explosivo November 4, 2008 at 4:53 pm

WOW, that is one of the most amazingly beautiful women I’ve ever seen. Who is she??

Helder November 4, 2008 at 6:26 pm

Not only i believe that people with little time to train should really get the most out of their limited time, but i also believe that even if you have a lot of time to train, you should keep the workouts short and intense for better results. I’ll be waiting for that next post of yours, it sounds very promising.

Scott N November 4, 2008 at 7:54 pm

Ive started to do quick workouts outside of the gym, its hard to do intense stuff in my gym because there are the people who take breaks and just sit on a bench or machine. I feel like punching them in their faces.

Lorna November 5, 2008 at 1:05 am

Great article.
Thanks for posting a pic of an East Indian girl! I am East Indian!


Grant November 5, 2008 at 1:46 am

I usually work out with weights in the morning 3 times per. week. Tues and Thurs we do group PT in the afternoon, and Saturday I usually workout at home jumping rope, ab work and some push-ups.
For a while I have been doing full body workouts. I can get these done in under an hour. A very good program is the 6×6. Doing 6 reps for 6 sets but only resting for 15-30 sec. between sets. Sometimes for smaller muscle such as bis or tris I’ll do 4 sets of 6 or 6 sets of 4.

Caleb - Double Your Gains November 5, 2008 at 2:04 am


No doubt, you got to work out with a purpose in mind!

And having a time limit on anything definitely ramps up your productivity.

I know that in my business, if I don’t have a deadline to do something I’m liable to put it off till it gets really close to the deadline — it’s important to keep yourself under pressure like that!

Talk soon!

Iris November 5, 2008 at 9:44 am

Hi Rusty!
I agree with you 100% about keeping your workouts short and intense and you will get better results. In my gym, I see people who stay there for hours but most of the time they are not working out, they are socializing or talking to everybody. I hate when I am doing my interval training on the treadmill and one of those people come to talk to me. They do not see that I am out of breath, sweaty and with a red face. Even though, they are at the gym everyday, they look the same. If they use the treadmill, they are talking to the next person and you can see they are not sweating at all.

Jennifer November 5, 2008 at 12:36 pm

I do have a couple of friends that really love cardio, and they do it for 90 minutes (sometimes even 2 hours) 5x/week. They usually take the weekend off, but if they miss a day, they will go on the weekend to make it up. This seems to work for some people, and my one friend has done this for 5 years now. She looks really good, and is perfectly toned, but I will admit she works her butt off when she’s at the gym…she doesn’t just go through the motions. For example, she uses the stepmill, and goes for 45 minutes at one of the hardest (fastest) settings. She’ll follow that with some running on the treadmill, and then will maybe walk for a bit on an incline…this keeps her looking great.

Luke November 5, 2008 at 12:44 pm

Hit the nail on the head once again!

Any activity undertaken by an aimless and unfocussed human mind is a lead balloon.

Kieran November 5, 2008 at 1:39 pm

Forget gyms, forget time-wasters. Here’s a no-brainer exercise that will have you huffing and puffing and will deliver fast results in no time: warm up for 5 minutes by jumping rope. Do 15 burpees, jump rope for one minute, do 15 burpees, jump rope for one minute and continue the sequence for 15-20 minutes. Burpees burn every muscle in your body and the rope jumping compliments the work they do. A last 5 minute cooldown – again with the rope – will finish the workout off nicely. Your metabolism will bust through the roof for hours afterwards and, consequently, your fat loss.

Krauser November 5, 2008 at 2:48 pm

hey great post! so I was comparing this to my workout and was thinking, am I spending too much time at the gym? I usually spend about 30-45 min(depending how free the weights/machines are) per muscle group, and usually do 2 a day over 4 days. 7 to 8 different workouts per muscles group. so like for biceps ill do 3 sets at 10 reps with 40lb barbell. (also great post on how steady weight is better then pyramids for strength gains) I just found this site randomly on google last week and WOW am I glad I found it you have tons of posts that I’ve found useful, love the HIIT that was all new info to me, keep the great posts coming rusty!

Sam November 5, 2008 at 10:08 pm


Excellent post, but I can’t wait to see your next one!

I’m a full time college student and I also work 30 hours a week as a computer technician, not a very active job.

I have school on Tuesday and Thursdays, and I have a 4 hour break in between classes where I work out and play racquetball, I also do a workout on Saturdays.

I’ve made a lot of progress since coming to your site, but I can’t wait to refine my current workouts even more by cutting the amount of time I spend lifting.

This post + being a groomsmen or possibly best man for my buddy, (coming up this summer ahh!) should be some solid motivation to get in my best shape. THANK YOU RUSTY!

admin November 5, 2008 at 10:58 pm


Yeah…I have seen people look the same year after year. In my opinion most people should be able get as lean as they desire within 12 months no matter where they start out. There are obviously a few extremes where this isn’t the case.

Your workout sounds extremely efficient.


Here goes…
Day 1: Back, Chest, Abs, HIIT
Day 2: Shoulders, Biceps, Triceps, HIIT

I just alternate between the two workouts. I don’t do direct leg lifts because I like the way intense HIIT works the legs.


My best workouts are almost typically when I am under the gun as far as time goes. Looks like you have found it to be true for yourself as well.


Workout out 2 hours a day is simply unnecessary. I think people assum “the more the better”. This just isn’t the case.


Just a beautiful East Indian model. I don’t now her name, but paid to be able to post it on my blog. Most of the pictures on my blog I pay a professional photographer a licensing fee for. It is good to know you guys appreciate them. She is very good looking…I agree.


I used to spend much longer in the gym, but can get the same results in half the time by just being smart about the whole approach.

Scott N,

I know what you mean. They probably are the same people who leave the weights on the bar.


I find every single nationality beautiful. I do have a thing for the dark haired women. My girlfriend has similar coloring…although she is a mix of a bunch of different things. I’m jealous of East Indian people…much better skin tone than most of us Scandinavians. It takes me a the first month of summer to even begin getting a tan…plus I have to use sunblock every time I’m in the sun. Not complaining, but just wish I had a darker pigment.


Your program sounds good. Interesting approach, but it sound like it works for you (there are a ton of different ways to get good results).


Good point about having a purpose in everything that you do. It does work the same in business as well. I have a lot of friends who now work full-time online. Many told me that they actually got more done online when they had a full-time job…even though they were forced to work online in their spare time at night.


If people can talk to the person next to them while on a piece of cardio equipment, they are doing their cardio workout wrong. I see it all the time too!


Your girlfriend is a sicko. Just kidding of course. If she has the time to spare and enjoys spending that much time in the gym…and get results, then there isn’t anything wrong with that. I’m willing to bet she could get close to the same results in half the time, but it sounds like she enjoys the time spent in the gym. At some point her life may get busy and she won’t have as much time to spare. At that point she will just have to be a bit more strategic about the whole deal.


I have been studying a lot about time management lately. It is weird how easy it is to appear to do things that seem like work, but actually just wasting time.


Although that workout sounds too simple and too old school. I know it has to be extremely effective! Jumping rope is a really good workout and throwing burpees into the mix would make this a tough one! I can imagine just how sweaty I would be after this. Sometimes simple is what really gets the job done.


Your workouts don’t seem excessive, but I would recommend just doing one workout in a day…not two. You will free up a lot of your time as it is way more time efficient to get dressed and workout once instead of twice. Glad you found my site…it is listed all over Google these days.


Glad you have become a new reader. You have plenty of time to get in outstanding shape. You sounds about as busy as me…maybe even busier, so I can relate. If you can make it into the gym 3 times per week and you keep your diet tight, then you will be in outstanding shape by summer. Keep reading…you will like my next post.

Good comments everyone!


Jennifer November 6, 2008 at 10:03 am

Hi Rusty…True, we are still young, don’t have kids, husbands, etc… so really the only thing besides work is fun and working out. You’re right, I like to be more strategic in the way I workout, and this site has helped a lot with that. Thank you!

Krauser November 6, 2008 at 6:04 pm

Thanks rusty! but i work out only once a day but do two differnt muscle groups in the same workout, not two different times, now that would be too time consuming! glad to know im going steady with the workout i have though, cant wait to get more in shape and try out that spartan workout, sounds fun

Explosivo November 6, 2008 at 6:10 pm


Thanks for responding to my non-fitness question. Though you have to expect that when you post models like that!

I’ve been reading your blog for about a year, really good stuff. I’m in my mid-30’s and after spending 10+ years trying to “get big”, I’ve finally come around to the idea that leaner is better. Especially for looking stylish in clothes.

Thanks for the articles, and keep up the great work!

Explosivo November 6, 2008 at 6:11 pm

By the way, whatever you paid to have her picture posted… TOTALLY worth it!! :^)

Kieran November 6, 2008 at 8:22 pm

Thanks for your comment on my workout suggestion Rusty, I like your approach: lean but not bulky. And my proposed workout above IS simple but it works. I’ve tried it in a circuit as well: push-ups for 1 minute, pull-ups for 1 minute, burpees for 1 minute and repeat ’em all with a 1 minute rest (most will really NEED this 1 minute rest!). Continue for 10 minutes. Cooldown, into the shwer and away we go. This routine and others got me more results than state-of-the-art gyms. I think some people use the gym for socialising more than working out. And those guys who look too muscular…..don’t get me started on those lol. Thanks, love thersite.

Bill November 7, 2008 at 3:38 pm

Thanks for the post on your routine. I came across the site after Googling Laird Hamilton. Agree with so many of your posts. Especially about legs. I had backed off on legs a couple of months ago and now leave it to the cardio to take care of them. The result, no more heavy feeling legs for a day or two after working them and more “jump” in my legs. Keep up the good work.

Lorna November 8, 2008 at 7:39 pm

Hi Rusty,

Thanks for replying. I agree, people of ALL races look amazing when they eat right and are in good shape. To be honest, I envy European beauty. I love their clear, fair skin and I love their beautiful deepset light eyes! I find Scandanavian men very handsome! Just look at you ;)!


Tom Parker - Free Fitness Tips November 12, 2008 at 5:59 pm

Agree with a lot of the stuff you are saying Rusty. However, I don’t like to lift really heavy all the time. I always lift relatively heavy (around 6-8 reps) and sometimes increase it to what I class as really heavy (up to 4 reps).

I think part of the reason I do this is that I quite like going to the gym most evenings after work. I find it is a good place to wind down. By lifting really heavy I would (as you say) seriously cut down my workout times and most probably end up coming home, and just browsing the Internet. I’m at a desk all day at work so I don’t want to just come home and do exactly the same.

Perhaps, in the future when I have less leisure time my perception will change.

Miranda November 21, 2008 at 8:12 pm

Great post! A lot of people think you need to work out 7 days a week for a zillion hours a day to get anywhere and it’s just not true. I’m all for less frequent and more intense workouts that actually show you results.

Matt January 10, 2009 at 10:04 am


I love the blog,you are doing many people a huge favor by giving them such great info..keep at it bro.I do have the following question/problem:

Your advice is to go into a workout in a depleted state,lift,then do cardio to maximize fat burn.Is it not proven that lifting weights depletes muscle glycogen anyways? Meaning that you can still eat something solid 2 hours or so before the workout so you have some energy to lift and still get the same benefits from cardio since the lifting part of the workout depleted muscle glycogen.Am I wrong about this? i would greatly appreciate a response.

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