Time-Crunched Training Sessions and the Programming Behind Them

By Rob Shaul

It’s common to find yourself in need of a quick training session, when life, travel or whatever, has kicked you out of your regular programming and schedule.

Here are two programming philosophies and example training sessions I deploy when I find myself in this situation – one each for strength and work capacity/stamina … and a bonus couple examples for endurance.

MTI Vets will recognize the exercises used in the examples below. If you don’t, please visit our EXERCISES PAGE for unfamiliar exercises.


Time-Crunched Efficient Strength

MTI’s Efficient Strength programming is a simple, efficient way to hit four major strength movements in a super-effective manner. Here are the strength movements and example exercises for each:

Upper Body Press

    • Scotty Bob
    • Bench Press
    • Military Press
    • Push Press
    • Push Up
    • Incline Bench Press
    • Parallel Bar Dip

Lower Body Press

    • Air Squat
    • Mini Leg Blaster
    • Back Squat
    • Front Squat
    • Box Squat
    • Dumbell/Kettlebell Front Squat

Upper Body Pull

    • Pull Up, Chin Up, Mixed Grip Pull Up, Tarzan Pull Up
    • Rope Climb
    • Bent Over Barbell Row
    • Power Curl
    • 1-Arm Dumbbell Row

Lower Body Pull

    • Dead Lift or Hinge Lift
    • Walking Lunge
    • Nordic Hamstring
    • In-Place Lunge

Programming Theory

  • 8 Rounds of moderate-volume with “increase load each round until hard, but doable” loading
  • “Moderate Volume” = 4-6 reps per exercise, per set.
  • No warm up. Jump right in. Start light and increase load slowly on the first the first 2-3 rounds and use this as your warm up.
  • Aim to be at or close to your “hard but doable” load by Round 4 and use this load “across” rounds 4-8.
  • Work steadily, but not frantically through the circuit. You’re training strength and want to go as heavy as possible and not be limited on load significantly by heavy breathing.
  • Again, no set or timed rest between exercises. Move steadily from one exercise to the next and aim to finish all 8 rounds in at around 40 minutes.

Below are three session examples. Again – no warm up, jump right in. Each session deploys just one barbell – but if you have the room and equipment for 2 barbells, you can work appropriate exercises in. One session is bodyweight only:

What is important is the overall theory – working to incorporate an upper body press, lower body press, upper body pull, and lower body pull – into each session. I like to alternate upper and lower body exercises just to give the body areas a break. Below is how the first session above. Again – no warm up, jump right in and work steadily, not frantically… I find I can generally move right from the upper body work to the following lower body exercise, but need to take a short break after the lower body exercises.

8 Rounds

  • 6x Bench Press – increase load each round until 6x is hard but doable (HBD)
  • 6x Dumbbell Front Squat – increase load each round until 6x is HBD
  • 6x Pull Ups
  • 6x In-Place Lunge – increase load each round until 6x is HBD


Time-Crunched Chassis-Integrity/Work Capacity Hybrid

MTI’s Chassis Integrity approach is perhaps the programming theory I’m most proud of.

In theory, our Chassis Integrity theory is designed to train mid-section strength and strength endurance, but in practice, there is a significant cardio effect – and so it’s also a sneaky way I can kill two birds with one stone – Chassis Integrity and Work Capacity.

This 40-minute, Chassis Integrity/Work Capacity Hybrid Training Session is a great time-crunched training session.

Programming Theory

  • Combine two Chassis Integrity movements (Total Body, Rotation) with a work capacity mode in the same circuit.
  • Work at a “Grind” Pace through the circuit for 40 minutes. “Grind” = steadily but not frantically.
  • No warm up. Jump right in, and start easy, then increase the pace as you warm up.
  • Moderate Volume for the Chassis Integrity exercises – 5x Reps for each exercise per set
  • Aim for a 1-minute effort in the work capacity mode

Here are the Chassis Integrity movements and example exercises for each:

Total Body Chassis Integrity

    • Sandbag Clean and Press
    • Sandbag Get Up
    • Sandbag Mr. Spectacular
    • Sandbag Burpee
    • Renegade Man Maker
    • Mr. Spectacular at a moderate load (8-12 kg for women, 16-20kg for men)
    • Turkish Get Up with a  dumbbell or kettlebell

Rotation Chassis Integrity

    • Sandbag Keg Lift
    • Kneeling Keg Lift
    • Sandbag Cross Clean
    • Standing Russian Twist
    • Slasher
    • Kneeling Slasher
    • Slasher to Halo

Here are example Work Capacity modes and 1 to 2-minute examples for each

  • Run 200m
  • 25x Step Ups (unloaded)
  • Row 250m
  • 15x Box Jumps @ 20/24″
  • 1-Minute Jump Rope

Sample Training Sessions:

Again – no warm up. Set up the equipment and jump right in … just go easy at first and speed up as you warm up. Be smart.

40 minutes is a long time … you’ll see. This will push you.


I have two, go-to, time-crunched endurance sessions.

First – a simple, 40-minute, moderate-paced (comfortable but not easy) run – or better if possible, a steep hill hike.

Next ….

40 minutes, 50x Step Ups, Run 400m or ….

40 minutes, Row 500m, Run 400m.

Both these can be completed outside or in a motel gym with the runs on a treadmill.

Questions, Comments, Feedback?
Please use the form below or email rob@mtntactical.com


Subscribe to MTI's Newsletter - BETA