Diets don't work: The 25-minute workout

Our Diets Don't Work blog is by Ascot-based personal trainer Adam Atkinson. He offers health and fitness advice on our websites.

Diets don't work: Weekend warrior as good as daily gym bunny

Adam Atkinson

Having trained hundreds of clients over the past decade, we try to encourage them to do some exercise outside of their sessions. Having a PT for a couple of hours a week is excellent, but by adding some additional activity clients see even faster progress in both fitness and weight loss.

People usually approach these homework sessions with ambition and high hopes. But the reality is that barriers to exercise soon get in the way – time pressures, lack of motivation to exercise alone, family and work pressures – the usual suspects.

So we set about designing a fitness routine that was above all achievable, but also time efficient, effective and structured, covering all components of fitness. So effective in fact that our clients have dubbed it the “timer of doom”.

The key to the workout is a smartphone app called interval timer. It’s free and easy to use as well as visually great. You can find it here for Apple: 

and here for Android: 

The workout

The workout uses the timer to provide timed blocks of exercise and rest, with a longer recovery between each block or 'pod'.

It combines strength training exercises with cardio-vascular moves for an all over session that stops you dithering, chatting or watching TV and really makes you get on with it.

The principle is simple – work hard for 20 seconds, then rest for 10.

Each pod is 11 minutes long, and consists of two 4-minute sections with rest in the middle and at the end.  Each section contains a strength exercise followed by a cardio exercise. You don’t necessarily need weights, but a kettlebell or suspension trainer (TRX) are both cheap and will add lots of options.

Here’s an actual routine

Pod 1 – 11 minutes

Push ups 20 seconds – 10 seconds rest – jumping jacks 20 seconds. 4 sets each.

1 minute recovery

Squats 20 seconds – 10 seconds rest – mountain climbers 20 seconds. 4 sets each

2 minutes recovery


Pod 2 – 11 minutes

TRX inverted row 20 seconds – 10 seconds rest – burpees. 4 sets each

1 minute recovery

Squat with an overhead press 20 seconds – 10 seconds rest – jackknifes 20 seconds – 4 sets each

Rest for 2 minutes

2 Minute stretches

The routine is infinitely variable. You could just do it with strength training. You could do it with cardio moves only. All the strength-training exercises used above have adaptations for beginners or experts. For example in pod 1 a beginner might do a push up from the knee; someone advanced might do a push up with feet on a box. Ideally though we like the combination of one strength training exercise by a cardio set.

Confused? Just set the timer up as per the screen shot and try it – that way it will make sense. Feel free to email us if you’d like any exercise suggestions or help setting this up.

Happy Training!