You Have No Time to Lift? Here are Some Tips According to a New Study

Strength training increases muscular strength and hypertrophy, and provides numerous other positive health benefits, including improved functional ability, cardiometabolic risk profile and well-being. 

A lot of people refrain from performing strength training and other forms of exercise, and as much as a quarter of the world’s population are at risk for developing health-related conditions linked to inactivity.

That is why it is so important to find ways to engage more people in both daily-life physical activities and forms of exercise such as strength training. A lot of people complain about lack of time as a common barrier to engage in exercise.

Typical strength and hypertrophy training programs for untrained or intermediately trained healthy adults involves training all major muscle groups with 2-4 sets of 8-10 exercises for 3-12 repetitions with 2-5 minutes rest between sets, carried out 2-4 times per week. 

In a recent study, researchers aimed to synthesize the evidence as to how strength training can be programmed for optimum time-efficiency. 

Tips and Key Points Found 

  • Do a minimum of 4 weekly sets per muscle group. 
  • Strength training can be more time-efficient by prioritizing bilateral, multi-joint movements through a full range of motion with  ≥ 4 weekly sets per muscle group using a 6–15 RM loading range.
  • Use loads corresponding to 6-15 repetitions, where the last few are a challenge to complete. 
  • Examples of multi-joint movements: squats, bench press and barbell row. 
  • Use machines and/or free weights based on training goals, availability and personal preference. 
  • The use of supersets and drop sets cuts the training time in half while maintaining volume. 
  • Avoid extensive warm-ups to a few repetitions with light loads before performing each exercise and skip stretching, which is not considered necessary for strength training. 


Iversen VM, Norum M, Schoenfeld BJ, Fimland MS. No Time to Lift? Designing Time-Efficient Training Programs for Strength and Hypertrophy: A Narrative Review. Sports Med. 2021 Oct;51(10):2079-2095. doi: 10.1007/s40279-021-01490-1. Epub 2021 Jun 14. PMID: 34125411; PMCID: PMC8449772. 

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