Lift Weights Faster: A Fast, Fun, and Effective Workout in Less Than 15 Minutes

By Jen Sinkler

lwf-jen-overheadpress-340x375Conditioning complexes are the baby bear’s porridge of conditioning. Some are too long, some are too short, some involve too much equipment and others not enough. Then, there are those that are juuuuuust right, based how much time and what equipment you have available on any given day.

A simple enough prospect on paper—complete a series of exercises without setting the implement down—complexes are shockingly effective for burning fat, boosting your strength and building up your cardiovascular fitness in an unconventional way.

Whether you’ve been training for years and yearn for the heaviest bits of iron or are just starting out, the complex is scalable. You can run (well, lift) through a heavier series and focus on your intensity (intensity as defined by weight on the bar, that is, not effort given), or you can go with lighter weights and knock out more volume to polish off your training session.

Whether you go a little faster, add a little more weight, or do an extra round, your body will respond.

Below, I’ve laid out a quick, effective and enjoyable total-body complex called “Bread and Butter” that requires only a couple of dumbbells and the willingness to hang on for four exercises in a row. (I yanked this baby straight out of my Lift Weights Faster conditioning manual just for you guys!)

Name: Bread and Butter, because these staples will always carry you through.

Suggested Equipment: Two dumbbells

Instructions: Do as many rounds as possible (AMRAP) — with good technique! — of this circuit in 14 minutes. Rest for one minute at the bottom of each round (choose a weight heavy enough that you aren’t tempted to keep rolling through).



Dumbbell Double Hang Clean

  • Standing with your feet hip-width apart, grasp two dumbbells so they hang straight down in front of you and rest against your thighs.
  • Bend your knees slightly into a partial squat, then explosively extend your hips. Use the power generated by your hips, hamstrings, and glutes to “float” the dumbbells up. (You should pull up only slightly with your arms.)
  • As the dumbbells become “weightless” in the air, quickly rotate the elbows underneath so you “catch” the dumbbells in the front rack position at shoulder height.
  • Lower the dumbbells back down under control and repeat.                                                


Dumbbell Pushup

  • Assume a straight-armed plank position with your body elevated between your hands and toes, your hands grasping the handles of a pair of dumbbells. Make sure to line up your hands directly under your shoulders, just wider than your rib cage.
  • With a stiff core and squeezed-together glutes, lower your body down as far as you can control, angling your elbows out to no more than 45 degrees and not letting your low back sag.
  • Press through the dumbbells to straighten your arms and return to the starting position.


Dumbbell Double Front Squat

  • Assume a racked position with the dumbbells at shoulder height, your forearms vertical under the dumbbells.
  • Initiate the squat by pushing your butt backward and bending your knees, keeping your torso upright and supporting the weight with your arms.
  • Keep your knees in line with your toes as you lower yourself as far as you are comfortably able.
(If it’s not very far, play with foot position, and try turning your toes slightly outward, but don’t force anything.)
  • Again, keeping your knees in line with your feet, return to stand in the starting position and repeat.


Dumbbell Double Bent-Over Row

  • Holding two dumbbells at your sides, hinge forward from the hips approximately 45 degrees while staying wide across the chest.
  • Row the dumbbells up toward your ribcage, keeping your elbows no more than 30 degrees out from your body.
  • Keep your shoulders down and away from your ears.
  • Lower the dumbbells to the start position with control, and repeat.

Into the Bear’s Den

If you’re looking for more just-right complexes (as well as circuits of every structure), I’ve put together 180 grab-and-go workouts in my Lift Weights Faster conditioning library. Complete with a full exercise glossary that includes written descriptions and photographic demonstrations of over 225 exercises, from classic moves to much more creative ones.

Every workout is organized by the equipment you have available and how much time you’ve got, including plenty of effective options that last anywhere from five up to 30 minutes (including one from GGS Co-founder Molly Galbraith!).

Want to learn how to get the results you've always wanted — without extreme diet or exercise?

Sign up for this FREE 5-Day course and you'll learn:

  • How to set yourself up for success (not failure) from the beginning
  • Why meal plans don't work (and what to do instead)
  • Why more exercise isn't better (and what to do instead)
  • How to overcome two major roadblocks concerning your hunger and cravings
  • The "secret sauce" for long-lasting, life-changing results — even when you're busy, injured, or unmotivated
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About the author:  Jen Sinkler

Jen Sinkler is a longtime fitness writer and personal trainer who talks about all things strength related at her website, She's a certified RKC 2 kettlebell instructor, and a powerlifting coach through USA Powerlifting. She also holds coaching certs through Kettlebell Athletics, Ground Force Method, Progressive Calisthenics, Onnit Academy, and DVRT (Ultimate Sandbag). Connect with Jen on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat (handle: jensinkler).

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