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The 30-3-3 Rule: Keep Your Gym Workouts Short and Sweet

Updated: Dec 15, 2021

Woman strength training in the gym.

The 30-3-3 Rule: Keep Your Gym Workouts Short and Sweet

If you want to start a workout routine but find it impossible to fit a full hour of gym time into a busy workday—you’re not alone.

The good news is that you don’t need to hit the gym for an hour (or more) every single day.

In fact, a well-designed routine that targets the right muscle groups can help you achieve the same results in less time while ensuring that you leave room for recovery—which is when the gains happens!

Many of my clients benefit from this 30-3-3 rule, which will keep your workout efficient and effective whether you have just started training or simply can’t commit a lot of time to exercise.

Get the Most From Your Gym Workout With the 30-3-3 Rule

TL;DR: Aim for 30 minutes of strength training workouts 3 times a week, and commit to doing 3 simple lifts that will help you get stronger over time.

Simple, right?

The caveat is that you need to select exercises that cover large muscle groups that, when strengthened, can lead to a great physique.

While everybody is different, and it’s best to work with a personal trainer to design your routine, you can start with my go-to lifts that give most people the biggest bang for their bucks:

  • Dumbbell goblet squat: Easier on the back than the standard squat, this version gives you extra core activation while targeting the quads and glutes.

  • Kettlebell sumo deadlift: This fat-burning exercise builds leg power, activates the core, and conditions the lower back.

  • Half-kneeling dumbbell overhead press: A variation of the overhead press, this exercise works your shoulders, triceps, and core while protecting your back.

The Secret to Ongoing Success

As I always say, consistency is the glue that holds everything together. To achieve long-term results, you need a sustainable routine.

For example, many people who restart working out after a long hiatus tend to jump right into exercising every day and set unrealistic expectations. They often end up getting burned out or injuring themselves.

Another problem is that many see exercise as some form of “suffering.” No wonder they can’t stay consistent! To make your exercise routine sustainable, consider your workout part of a self-care routine where you give yourself some precious “me time” to focus on your wellbeing.

And smile while doing it!

The 30-3-3 approach gives you the structure to be consistent without pushing yourself too far too soon.

After consistently working out 30 minutes 3 times a week for 90 days, reward (yes, reward!) yourself by extending your gym time to 45 minutes. Also, add one more lift to work on a muscle group you haven’t targeted yet (e.g., dumbbell bench supported row to strengthen your back.)

So there you have it—a simple and smart way to incorporate effective strength training into your busy life… without living in the gym!


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