40 Min Gym Workout For Weight Loss

If you’re looking to lose weight, you’ve probably tried a few different strategies. Maybe you’ve cut out junk food, eaten more veggies and protein, or exercised regularly. But even if this approach has worked for you in the past, it can be hard to stay motivated as time goes on—and that’s why we’re here! We’re going to give you a workout plan that will help you get lean without exhausting your body or requiring too much time at the gym.

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40 Min Gym Workout For Weight Loss

As the saying goes, an hour-long workout is roughly four percent of your day, so use it wisely. However, once you factor in your commute to and from the gym, a post-sweat rinse, and maybe even a quick blow-dry, that training session can end up taking a much bigger chunk out of your morning or evening.

The good news? A 40-minute workout can be an even better fit for an on-the-go lifestyle—and if you’re making the most out of your time, you can achieve the cardio and strength benefits of an hour-long workout in two-thirds of the time. You can get just as much done in 40 minutes, explains Noam Tamir, C.S.C.S., founder of TS Fitness, it all comes down to intensity. “If you’re efficient at what you do, 40 minutes is more than enough as long as you’re monitoring your rest periods and have a plan,” he says.

How? Tamir shares his go-to 40-minute workout plan below.

0:00-5:00: WARM-UP

“You never want to skip your warm-up—it preps you body for the workout, which is especially important in the cold months,” says Tamir. This matters whether your workout is 10 minutes or 60. His advice is to start with some diaphragmatic breathing—this means deeply inhaling through your nose, filling your stomach, sides, and even low back with air (not just your chest). This can help activate your core, says Tamir. Then, move on to some mobility exercises—here are five to try in your warm-up.

Using this time to increase mobility is important because it allows you to get deeper into exercises later in the workout and as your fitness level improves—for example, if you can get lower in a squat, you’re more likely to be using proper form and make sure the right muscle fibers are firing (after all, if you’re taking time out of your day to spend at the gym, you want to make sure you’re working as efficiently as possible).

5:00-10:00: MAXIMUM-EFFORT, HIGH-INTENSITY EXERCISES

This is where the real work starts—Tamir is a fan of “power moves” to start a workout. “A power exercise is something that’s going to be maximum effort—it is an explosive or fast movement, and you’re not doing it for that long,” he says. For example, heavy kettlebell swings, jump squats, medicine ball slams, and plyo push-ups would all be considered power moves. These types of moves spike your heart rate (helping to burn more calories), but they also train your body to be able to generate force quickly IRL, Tamir explains. That’s important if, for example, if you needed to break into a sprint.

Tamir suggests choosing two high-intensity power moves and doing each for about 15 seconds, then resting for 30 to 40 seconds. Do this for five rounds, which should take you about five minutes.

To really make the most of your time, consider swapping your rest interval with a low-intensity activity (like holding a high plank or doing bodyweight squats). “This keeps your body active and keeps your heart rate from dropping completely down,” says Tamir.

10:00-30:00: STRENGTH TRAINING

Tamir suggests spending half of your 40 minutes on strength training. Increasing your muscle mass increases your basal metabolic rate (meaning your body burns more calories at rest), and strength training can also help prevent injury, improve posture, and more, he explains. “I would do strength training before cardio because you’re going to be fresher at the beginning of the workout,” says Tamir. “You’ll have more energy to lift heavier weights, and you won’t be wobbling all over the place.” This means you’ll be able to put more energy into every exercise.

For the strength portion of your 40-minute routine, Tamir suggests pairing a lower-body exercise (like a squat or a deadlift) with an upper-body exercise (like a bent-over row), and a core exercise (like a plank). How many reps you do of each will depend on your goal and current fitness level. To gain muscle mass, you should aim to do 6-12 reps of each, and the weight should be heavy enough that the last couple of reps are challenging, but you can still keep proper form. After doing all of the reps for each of the three exercises, you’ll rest for 30 to 45 seconds. Then you repeat that set a total of three times.

It should take you roughly six minutes to cycle through all three sets, which means you have 14 minutes left. Continue this pattern, selecting a different pairing of moves to complete, until your 20 minutes are up.

Tamir also suggests utilizing strength moves that work both sides at the same time, or bilateral moves. Unilateral moves, which work each side separately (like split squats), are great for ensuring the muscles on one side aren’t doing more of the work, but since you need to do one set for each side they’re not ideal when you’re short on time.

30:00-40:00: STEADY-STATE OR INTERVAL CARDIO

The last 10 minutes of your 40-minute workout should be devoted to cardio, says Tamir. While high-intensity intervals (like the Tabata protocol) get a ton of love, this doesn’t mean your cardio time has to include intervals.

“Intervals are great for burning calories, but you don’t need to do it every day,” he explains. Intervals are designed to be extremely difficult, so even though they torch calories during and after a workout thanks to the afterburn effect, they put a ton of stress on your body—and you don’t need that every day.

Steady-state cardio can be a great option for this 10-minute cardio block, Tamir says, especially if you’re doing HIIT other times during the week. You could also hop on a stair-climbing machine, ride a stationary bike, or run on the treadmill and try to see how far you can get in 10 minutes. These cardio workouts still get your heart rate up and burn calories without putting such intense pressure on your body.

AFTER YOUR WORKOUT: COOL-DOWN

Tamir doesn’t think you need to set aside extra time to cool down after a 40-minute workout, but you can be strategic about chilling out while you’re moving on to the next part of your day. “I tell my clients to take a couple of deep breaths to get their heart rate down,” says Tamir. “Keep moving and get the blood circulating.” This can help with next-day soreness, says Tamir—even though this workout isn’t a full hour, that doesn’t mean you won’t feel it the next day.

For general fitness goals, Tamir says you can do this workout about three times a week. However, if you’re working towards bigger goals (like weight loss, muscle growth, or strength building), you can do it five times per week. It all depends on the level of activity you’re used to.

Gym Workout Routine

With the right workout routine, you can achieve a whole lot in just four weeks. This 16-workout plan is proof of that. The 16 workouts it contains are broken down by areas of the body and though the emphasis is on your chest, back and arms, no muscle goes without its turn in the spotlight over the course of each week. The plan is designed to push your muscles beyond their comfort zone so your body rebuilds them bigger and stronger.

It’s a tough training plan, and if you’re not an experienced gym-goer who is already training regularly and are worried it might push you well beyond your comfort zone, then we also have a more straightforward beginner gym workout where you work the whole body in one session. And if you’d prefer to exercise at home, and have a set of dumbbells handy, this four-week dumbbell workout plan will see you right (if you’re in need of weights, our selection of the best dumbbells will point you in the right direction). 

If you are comfortable in the weights room and up for four weeks of intense training with the carrot of a bigger, leaner body dangling in front of you, then dive on in.

How The Plan Works

In each of the four weeks of this 28-day plan you will train your chest and back twice. Sound like a lot? It is! But in some plans you only hit each muscle group every seven days, which isn’t enough of a stimulus to force your body into making positive physique adaptations.

But in this plan, doubling up each week on chest and back exercises – and therefore also working your biceps and triceps twice a week, once directly and once indirectly – will provide all the stimulus your body needs to get bigger in less time. And fear not, your shoulders, abs and legs won’t miss out on the size and strength gains: they will still get enough dedicated time each week to allow them to grow bigger and stronger.

Simply do the workouts in order, sticking to the exercises, sets, reps, tempo (explained below) and rest periods detailed. The first workout of each week targets your chest and triceps, the second your back and biceps, the third your legs and chest, and the fourth your back and shoulders.

All four weekly workouts are made up of five moves, which you’ll perform as straight sets, so you’ll simply work through moves 1 to 5 in order. That’s it!

Tempo Training

To get the full effect from these workouts, you need to stick to the four-digit tempo code for each exercise. The first digit indicates how long in seconds you take to lower the weight, the second how long you pause at the bottom of the move, the third how long you take to lift the weight, and the final digit how long you pause at the top. X means that part of the move should be done explosively. The accumulated time under tension increases your heart rate to burn fat and break down muscle tissue so it’s rebuilt bigger and stronger. Keep each rep smooth and controlled so your muscles – not momentum – do the work.

Warm Up

Ahead of tackling any of the workouts in this plan we highly recommend completing this gym warm-up routine.

It involves doing seven moves like downward dog walk-outs and lunges with rotation that warm up muscles all over the body, then going into workout-specific exercises. The simplest way to do the latter is to do one or two sets of each exercise from the workout you’re about to do, using either very light dumbbells or an unloaded barbell.

Try it once and when you smash your first few sets instead of struggling through them, you’ll never need to be convinced of the value of a proper warm-up again.

WORKOUT 1: CHEST AND TRICEPS

1 Bench press

Sets 5 Reps 10 Tempo 2010 Rest 60sec 

Lie on a flat bench holding a barbell with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Brace your core, then lower the bar towards your chest. Press it back up to the start.

2 Triceps dip

Sets 5 Reps 6-10 Tempo 2110 Rest 60sec 

Grip rings or parallel bars with your arms straight. Keeping your chest up, bend your elbows to lower your body as far as your shoulders allow. Press back up powerfully to return to the start.

3 Incline dumbbell press

Sets Reps 12-15 Tempo 2010 Rest 60sec 

Lie on an incline bench holding a dumbbell in each hand by your shoulders. Press the weights up until your arms are straight, then lower them back to the start under control.

4 Incline dumbbell flye

Sets 3 Reps 12-15 Tempo 2010 Rest 60sec 

Lie on an incline bench holding a dumbbell in each hand above your face, with your palms facing and a slight bend in your elbows. Lower them to the sides, then bring them back to the top.

5 Triceps extension

Sets 3 Reps 12-15 Tempo 2010 Rest 60sec 

Stand tall holding a dumbbell over your head with both hands, arms straight. Keeping your chest up, lower the weight behind your head, then raise it back to the start.

WORKOUT 2: BACK AND BICEPS

1 Pull-up

 Sets 5 Reps 6-10 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec 

Hold a pull-up bar with an overhand grip, hands shoulder-width apart. Brace your core, then pull yourself up until your lower chest touches the bar. Lower until your arms are straight again.

2 Bent-over row

 Sets 5 Reps 10 Tempo 2010 Rest 60sec 

Hold a barbell using an overhand grip, hands just outside your legs, and lean forward from the hips. Bend your knees slightly and brace your core, then pull the bar up, leading with your elbows. Lower it back to the start.

3 Chin-up

Sets 3 Reps 6-10 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec 

Hold a pull-up bar with hands shoulder-width apart, palms facing you. Brace your core, then pull yourself up until your chin is over the bar. Lower until your arms are straight again.

4 Standing biceps curl

Sets 3 Reps 12-15 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec 

Stand with dumbbells by your sides, palms facing forwards. Keeping your elbows tucked in, curl the weights up, squeezing your biceps at the top. Lower them back to the start.

5 Seated incline curl

Sets 3 Reps 12-15 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec 

Sit on an incline bench with dumbbells by your sides, palms facing forwards. Keeping your elbows tucked in, curl the weights up, squeezing your biceps at the top. Lower them back to the start.

WORKOUT 3: LEGS AND ABS

1 Back squat

Sets Reps 10 Tempo 2010 Rest 60sec

Stand tall, holding a bar across the back of your shoulders. Keeping your chest up and core braced, squat down as deep as you can. Drive back up through your heels to return to the start.

2 Good morning

Sets 5 Reps 10 Tempo 2010 Rest 60sec

Stand tall holding a light barbell across the backs of your shoulders, feet shoulder-width apart. With your core braced, bend forwards slowly from the hips, as far as your hamstrings allow but not past horizontal. Return to the start.

3 Hip thrust

Sets 3 Reps 12-15 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec

Sit with your upper back supported on a bench, holding a barbell across the tops of your thighs. Thrust your hips up, squeeze your glutes at the top, and then return to the start.

4 Incline dumbbell press

Sets 3 Reps 12-15 Tempo 2110 Rest 60sec

Lie on an incline bench, holding a dumbbell in each hand by your shoulders. Press the weights up until your arms are straight, then lower them back to the start under control.

5 Incline dumbbell flye

Sets 3 Reps 12-15 Tempo 2111 Rest 60sec

Lie on an incline bench, holding a dumbbell in each hand above your face, with your palms facing and a slight bend in your elbows. Lower them to the sides, then bring them back to the top.

WORKOUT 4: BACK AND SHOULDERS

1 Overhead press

Sets 5 Reps 10 Tempo 2010 Rest 60sec

Hold a bar in front of your neck with your hands just wider than shoulder-width apart. Keeping your chest up and core braced, press the bar overhead until your arms are straight. Lower it back to the start.

2 Rack pull

Sets 5 Reps 10 Tempo 2111 Rest 60sec

Stand tall in front of a barbell resting on safety bars at knee height. Bend and grasp the bar with an overhand grip, then stand up until your back is straight again, squeezing your shoulder blades together at the top.

3 Seated dumbbell press

Sets 3 Reps 12-15 Tempo 2010 Rest 60sec

Sit on an upright bench with a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder height. Keeping your chest up, press the weights directly overhead until your arms are straight, then lower them back to the start.

4 Lateral raise

Sets 3 Reps 12-15 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec

Stand tall, holding a light dumbbell in each hand with palms facing. Keeping your chest up and a bend in your elbows, raise the weights out to shoulder height, then lower back to the start.

5 Reverse flye

Sets 3 Reps 12-15 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec

Bend forward from the hips holding a light dumbbell in each hand with palms facing. Keeping a slight bend in your elbows, raise the weights out to shoulder height, then lower back to the start.

DIET TIPS

It’s crucial to back up your work in the gym with a healthy diet. The obvious first steps are to cut down on fast food, takeaways and booze, and after that it’s all about getting the nutrients needed to build muscle.

Increasing your protein intake is a big part of this. How much protein you need to build muscle is hard to answer precisely, but the general guidance for people who are strength training is 1.2-2g of protein per kilo of bodyweight per day, up from the general recommendation of 0.8-1.2 per kg of bodyweight a day. That’s so your body has the fuel to repair and rebuild the muscles you’re damaging. 

Protein powder is a convenient source, but it’s easy to get what you need from food, which will also contain other important nutrients. This ranked list of high-protein foods will help, and if you’re really struggling to eat enough protein, top up with one of the best protein powder supplements.

Make sure you’re also eating enough carbs to provide the energy to power your training sessions. Opt for wholegrain varieties to help you towards 30g of fibre every day, which will help to keep you feeling full. Also ensure you eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, ideally more. If you’re smart, you can kill two birds with one stone by preferring vegetarian sources of protein and vegan sources of protein that also count towards your five-a-day, like beans and lentils.

If it all sounds like too much work, another option is to use a healthy meal delivery service. It’s more expensive than cooking for yourself, but less expensive and healthier than a Deliveroo habit. Or for a happy middle ground use a recipe box service, so you can skip the planning and shopping but keep your culinary skills sharp by still cooking the meals. We’ve reviewed plenty and you’ll find all the recommendations you need in our picks of the best healthy meal delivery services and best recipe boxes.

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