Here’s another edition of super short resistance workouts that I’ve been doing in the gym recently.
We all know by now that it’s important to incorporate resistance training into your overall workout routine each week. There are many different types of training styles, and if you have a specific goal for performance or for a competition, then you’ll likely need to follow a specific progressive program, which has you doing certain workouts on certain days in order to get maximum results.
However, if you aren’t following a program, don’t want to stress about assigned workouts and are mostly in it for your overall health (building muscle, challenging yourself and making sure your bones and joints stay strong and stable), all you really need to do is 2 to 3 short weights sessions a week to complement your cardio and flexibility workouts.
You’ve probably noticed that my solo weights workouts are short and often contain similar moves and patterns. Why? Because I like to keep it simple. In addition, I like to focus on movement patterns that are functional and compound. I don’t do a ton of single-joint moves, because you don’t get the most bang for your buck with those. (For instance, unless I’m teaching BODYPUMP, I never stand there doing bicep curls. Instead, I do moves like bent-over rows that challenge the biceps, along with the back muscles for more of a gain.)
I always document my weights routines on Instagram stories in real-time and share them in my weekly current faves posts, but I wanted to pull a bunch together for you in one blog post to store and save if you need it. That’s what we’ve got today!
Super short resistance workouts you can do in less than 30 minutes
*Disclaimer: If you’re newer to exercise or aren’t sure that you’ve mastered the basics of form, I would highly recommend working with a personal trainer for at least a few sessions to get some help on the fundamentals. You want to be able to properly activate your glutes, keep good posture and trunk stability throughout all of your workouts. Once you’ve done this, proceed with caution …
Before each workout, I’m going to provide a little commentary, because that’s how I like to do it …
I usually stick to just dumbbells for weights workout, but I also really like the assisted pull-up machine, the Roman chair and the back extension chair at my gym. You’ll see those make a frequent appearance. And it helps that they are next to each other in a less-busy area of the gym, so I can keep my supersets quick.
The goblet squat (in which you hold a weight up at your chest, with elbows locked in tight to the body) is one of my favorite squat variations, because it forces you to use your core more as you keep the weight up at chest height. It’s a different feel than a back-weighted squat for sure.
Incline walking on the treadmill is a great way to warm up your body, but make sure you’re not holding onto the handrails. You want to let your arms swing back and forth freely and with purpose.
Why use a kettlebell in your workouts? Because the shape of the kettlebell actually provides a different challenge for your muscles. I love to hold the kettlebell for goblet squats or for kettlebell swings. You have to make sure your wrists are strong and stable before picking up a kettlebell though — because it’s harder to use than a dumbbell.
Balance training is so important, so I like to add some knee lifts in my solo workouts here and there, in addition to the balance training I do in the group fitness classes I take and teach. It’s totally okay if you shake when you’re doing one-legged balance work, because all that means is that you’re trying. Don’t fear the shakes and wobbles.
Friends: It’s not easy to admit this as someone who works in fitness, but I do not like push-ups. At all. I do them in almost every class that I teach, but I’m not a fan. Why? Because I’ve always struggled with some shoulder stability on one side that got worse during pregnancy and all that baby carrying. I’ve got it under control now, but still have to work extra hard for my push-ups. And that’s why I always do them in my own workouts too — I know I need them.
When you’re lifting weights, it’s important to work in more than one plane of motion. Most of our workouts are front to back, but side to side and rotational movements are beneficial too. That’s where the “full circle angel arms” come in. Imagine doing a snow angel on the ground. Now do that with dumbbells while standing up — it feels amazing, but isn’t easy.
Whenever I need a good bodyweight strength move in a circuit to get my heart-rate up, I always add hover-to-plank arm marches, which essentially mean moving from the hover position on the forearms up to the plank position on the palms over and over, while keeping the rest of the body still. You can do these anywhere, and they fire up the core and the upper-body muscles.
I love to use the TRX, but because I go to a very busy gym and I only work out when kid-care is open during peak hours, I rarely get to use the TRX. But it feels so good on the body, and you can challenge yourself as much as you want. The most important thing to remember when using TRX is to always keep your body in a strong plank position and never let your hips and core collapse.
Sometimes I break things up and do only one area of the body, much like is shown with the leg workout below. With the following one, because I did 10 to 15 repetitions per exercise, I chose a moderate weight. You could also choose a heavier weight, then drop the rep range down to 8 repetitions per exercise and instead complete four sets.
I wish the assisted pull-up machine was in a less busy area of my gym, but it’s not. Perhaps I should just get a pull-up bar for home so I could work on them there.
I think the stability ball will forever remind me of being pregnant, because I sat on one at home as my desk chair for several weeks of my pregnancy. However, the stability ball is also an excellent workout tool. I like to use it for core work, or lie back on it for an added challenge when doing chest presses or other moves.
The indoor rower is one of the best places to warm up before you start moving. It takes a while to master form on the indoor rower, and I see some terrible attempts at the gym. This video is the best one to watch to work on your rowing form. Legs, core, arms is the rowing pattern for activation. Keep that in your head.
If you feel a little discomfort from hip thrusting with a barbell, add a rolled up towel under the bar on your lap. I always do that to protect my hip bones from too much pressure from the bar.
I went through a short phase when I always went to the cable machine. I like the feel of it and like that you can do many body parts on one piece of equipment. Efficiency is key!
If you haven’t done walking lunges with weights in a while, I highly suggest it. I’m always sore from these. They burn in the best way and really get the heart-rate up. If you keep your body totally upright, you’ll focus more on the legs, but if you hinge your torso slightly forward, you’ll have a little more of a focus on the glutes.
How often you should do resistance training each week
I’ve written a lot more about the nitty gritty details of weight training before, but here’s a loose overview: You should lift weights or do weight-bearing exercise 2 to 4 times a week, and you can do it before or after cardio, depending on your preference. Many people believe that you get better results from weight training when you do it BEFORE cardio, because you aren’t yet fatigued and will lift heavier and have better core stability.
Unless you are following a split plan, with an upper- or lower-body focus or even a muscle group focus, you should have a day off or day of other exercise in between lifting weights. That means don’t do full-body circuits on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Instead, do them on Monday and Wednesday and do just yoga or cardio on Tuesday in between, so your muscles can rest and repair — the most important part of the process.
How to check your form and two legit exercise libraries
If you would like to see some video or picture demonstrations of proper form for the moves above, I recommend using the ACE or Bodybuilding libraries for good examples. But of course, seeking the help of a fitness trainer is always ideal. You should also set up in front of a mirror, focus on good posture and moving slowly through the moves to get full range. And if anything doesn’t feel good, stop doing it or modify.
Also, this is my foam roller of choice, which I always bring to the gym with me and would recommend it.
Thanks for reading, my friends! Have a fabulous start to your week! And happy lifting! 🙂
Other weights workout posts you may like …
- Gym inspo: Short weights workouts you can do in less than 30 minutes
- Gym inspo: A selection of short resistance workouts that I’ve been doing
- What the latest news about lifting heavy vs. light weights means for you
- A busy girl’s three-move total-body dumbbell workout
Also, I post these workouts as I do them on my Instagram stories, so follow along there, or check the “workouts” highlights on my profile.
Questions of the day
How often do you lift weights?
Where do you do most of your workouts?
How was your weekend?