The one-hour workout

Terry Cooper, our Deputy Head of Operations, Fitness and Performance, has the low-down on maximising your gym sessions.
4 min readAug 28, 2020

We’re reopening our gyms this week and because of our new Covid safety measures, our bookable fitness sessions are now one hour long. This means that being effective with your time is key.

For many, the way you workout might not change. But some of you may need need to consider some changes to maximise these new time-constrained sessions. If you are one of those that needs to adapt or shorten your workout, here are some ideas that cover all bases.

10 / 30 / 20

Divide your workout into 3 sections and allow 10 minutes for preparation (Warm Up) and then 30/20 minutes for either strength or conditioning work. This can change day by day or week by week, based on training session outcomes.

Here is an example of the workout:

10 minute preparation, including 5 minutes of dynamic mobility/movement targeted at key joints and muscles, followed by 5 minutes of faster more explosive exercises e.g. Single leg hops and bounds, Squat jumps and Skierg Pulls, or simply 10 minutes on a cardiovascular (CV) machine.

20/30 minutes of strength work using 3–5 sets 6–12 repetitions of the following:

  • 1A: Squat
  • 2A: Push Up or Bench Press
  • 3A: Hip Thrusts/Bridge
  • 4A: Upper Body Pull
  • 5A: Core

This sequence gives a total body workout and in 5–6 minutes per round of exercises, so 5 rounds will take 30 mins.

The nature of the set-up has the heavier load exercise (Squat) at the beginning of the circuit, meaning that this particular exercise will get 4–5 minutes before repeating, therefore recovering, but your body is still getting challenged.

The set-up above also means that you can utilise the same area, so you can move quickly from one exercise to the other. A general rule of thumb when returning to the gym after a period of inactivity or a reduction in weight training is to look to complete repetitions, so that you can complete approximately 4 more repetitions at that weight.

This then allows 20 or 30 minutes for conditioning work. This can be performed in one solid block of effort, or split into long or short intervals e.g. 10–15 efforts of 1 minute with a 1 minute recovery. Or, if you’re just getting back into the gym, use 10 x 1 minute efforts with 2 minute recoveries or 30 seconds with 2.30 minutes recovery.

The general rule of thumb is the shorter the work effort the higher intensity. However this should be based on your desired outcome and your readiness for higher or lower intensity work. If in doubt always choose an intensity that you can complete - your goal early on should be to get back to being active; performance and progression will come with time.

This type of workout set-up is great for developing work capacity and endurance; is varied in movements and gets a lot of work completed, so it’s really time efficient. Work capacity over time allows you to build resilience and strength, which helps you to absorb sessional increases in intensity without a negative effect (i.e injury as a result of an intensity that you aren’t ready for).

Clearly, if you are working in the higher loads of intensity then insufficient recovery can impact performance, progress and increase your likelihood of injury. This needs to be considered, but you can still fill resting time with low load or low intensity mobility and core work.

But for the majority of us who are looking for a generalised fitness level, a workout set-up that means moving from one exercise to another that uses varying movements, intensities and complexity will be excellent use of time.

We’ll be creating some videos to share what this looks like in practice, so look out for these on our Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, and ask one of our fitness team for more help or ideas when you’re next in.

You can book online now for our fitness sessions and group exercise classes. We’ll also be taking bookings by phone when we open our reception desks from Tuesday 1 September.

See you soon!