Use These Flow Workouts To Build Muscle And Burn Calories In Less Time

Man kneels next to barbell
(Image credit: Getty Images / MoMo Productions)

It can be hard to dedicate enough time in the gym to make changes to your physique. If you want to complete this four workouts a week for four weeks gym training plan, you have to be prepared to clear your schedule. 

There is another way, however, if you’re an experienced gym-goer. A fast-acting, time-saving, muscle-pumping, belly-busting training plan that will whip you into shape without taking up too much of your busy day. That's exactly what we've got for you.

What follows is an intense, three-week workout plan. Every second day you'll do a short training session that uses minimal equipment (so no queuing at the gym) and shouldn't take you more than 20 minutes to complete, plus warm-up and warm-down periods. On the days in between you rest and recover.

Don't think, however, that a short session means an easy one. For this plan we've devised some fiendish Monster Moves – multiple exercises combined into a single unit, done without rest. Performing just one repetition of one of these Monster Moves can take up to 15 seconds and involve almost every muscle in your body. The result is that you stress lots of muscle fibres and make your heart work hard to pump blood around your body. This will increase the calorie demand of the workout and raise your metabolism so that you continue to burn fat even after the workout has finished.

How To Follow This Plan

There are only six exercises in the entire training plan, but they are big and complex so practise them first, paying close attention to the form guides, to get the hang of them before doing your workout proper.

Start by warming up for five minutes with light cardio work and dynamic stretches like bends, lunges and presses to get the muscles working.

Pick a weight that you can handle comfortably, erring on the light side at first. Aim to increase the weight slightly as you progress.

Then do the first Monster Move, maintaining a steady tempo and doing as many reps of each Monster Move as you can reasonably manage before losing form. Aim for between five and 10 reps of each.

Maintain a brisk, steady pace throughout without compromising good form. Slow down if you feel you are burning out too soon. If you find you are doing fewer than five reps before burning out, then adjust the weight you are using and slow the pace.

Rest for two minutes before moving on to Monster Move 2. Do as many reps as you can without losing form, then rest for another two minutes before going back to Monster Move 1. Aim to keep up this pattern for 20 minutes. End with five minutes of cardio, such as running, to cool down.

Do a session every second day, alternating between workouts A, B and C. Rest on the days in between.

Workout A

Monster Move 1: Struck Dumb

Man with dumbbells in front rack position

(Image credit: Getty Images / MoMo Productions)

Side lunge to touch to lunge with curl to squat to rotating press

Every muscle in your body will feel it with this multi-part exercise that switches between upper- and lower-body moves to keep your heart pumping and fat-fires burning. With each rep, alternate sides for the side lunge, lunge and rotating press.

  • Stand with dumbbells in front of your thighs.
  • Step to the side and lower the weights down your shin with a straight back.
  • Push back to the start with dumbbells at your sides.
  • Step forward into a lunge and curl the weights up to shoulder height.
  • Push back to the start and lower the weights before flipping them up to shoulder height.
  • Lower into a squat, keeping your back straight and your weight on your heels.
  • Stand up and press one dumbbell up, reaching across to the other side so your body is twisting through 90°. 
  • Switch sides, raising the other dumbbell across to the other side and twisting in the other direction.

If you enjoyed that, you’ll get on well with this simply savage dumbbell complex from F45

Monster Move 2: Press Gang

T press-up to burpee to Spider-Man press-up to burpee to renegade row press-up to burpee

Work your chest, triceps, shoulders, back and core while putting your cardiovascular system through the wringer thanks to the burpee interludes.

  • Get into a press-up position holding light dumbbells.
  • Lower your chest to the floor with a straight body.
  • Push up and rotate your torso until one arm points at the ceiling, then repeat the T press-up to the other side.
  • Jump your feet forward beneath your chest.
  • Stand up straight, then return to the starting press-up position.
  • Do a press-up, drawing one knee to your elbow as you lower, then repeat on the other side.
  • Return to standing again before getting back into a press-up position.
  • Do another press-up, this time rowing the dumbbell in to your side as you push up, then repeat on the other side.
  • Return to standing again before beginning the sequence again.

Workout B

Monster Move 1: All Bar None

Romanian deadlift to bent-over row to hang clean to overhead press to back squat

Leave those 20kg plates alone. Even a light bar will soon have you struggling with this mighty combo exercise. It hits virtually every muscle in your body to create a big metabolism boost and torch calories fast.

  • Hold the bar in front of your thighs.
  • Lean forward at the hips with a straight back and bend your knees slightly.
  • Pull it in to your sternum.
  • Lower the bar and drop your hips slightly.
  • Pull the bar powerfully up in front of you.
  • With the bar at chest height, flip your wrists over, bending your knees to absorb the impact.
  • Straighten your legs and press the bar overhead.
  • Lower the bar behind your head until it rests across the back of your shoulders.
  • Drop into a squat keeping your back straight and weight on your heels.
  • Stand up and reset the bar before repeating the sequence.

Monster Move 2: Twist In The Tale

Barbell lunge to alternating rotation

This move will hit your legs and core hard. Aim to make all your movements slow and deliberate - good form is more important than speed or number of reps. Alternate the sides of your lunges and rotations with each rep.

  • Stand upright with the bar across your shoulders.
  • Take a big step forward with your right leg and lower your back knee almost to the floor.
  • Push back to the start.
  • Rotate your torso to the right and return, using your abs to control the motion.

Workout C

Monster Move 1: Hanging Horror

Man performing a pull-up

(Image credit: Getty Images / MoMo Productions)

Pull-up to hanging leg raise to burpee with press-up

This one will separate the ironmen from the boys. It involves a series of high-energy compound movements done in sequence that will work your entire upper body and get your heart hammering.

  • Start by hanging from a pull-up bar.
  • Pull up until your chin is over the bar.
  • Lower down and hang again.
  • Raise your legs until they are straight out in front of you.
  • Lower your legs and drop off the bar.
  • Crouch down and place your hands on the floor in front of you.
  • Jump your feet back so your body forms a straight line.
  • Do a press-up.
  • Jump your feet forward again.
  • Stand up and reach for the pull-up bar to start again.

Monster Move 2: Having A Ball

Gym ball passing jackknife to hip raise and hamstring curl

Hit your abs, hips and hamstrings in a move that requires good co-ordination and core strength to pull off without collapsing in a heap on the floor.

  • Lie holding a gym ball behind your head.
  • Use your abs to lift your arms and legs and transfer the ball from hands to feet.
  • Lower your arms and legs again.
  • Move your feet so that your heels are on top of the ball.
  • Raise your hips until your body is in a straight line.
  • Pull your heels into your backside, raising your hips.
  • Straighten your legs again.
  • Grab the ball with your feet and jackknife up to return it to your hands.
  • Lower back to the start again and repeat.

Nick Hutchings worked for Men’s Fitness UK, which predated, and then shared a website with, Coach. Nick worked as digital editor from 2008 to 2011, head of content until 2014, and finally editor-in-chief until 2015.