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      The ‘I Don’t Have Time’ Workout

      The ‘I Don’t Have Time’ Workout


      By Alex Savva, PharmaFreak Co-founder 

      I admit it — trying to knock out this article this month was tough. The deadline looming, I was furiously trying to unpack from my recent move and keep up with an endless “to-do” list at the helm of PharmaFreak. Frankly, I was flush out of time, and my editor at Bodybuilding.com wasn’t interested in hearing any more of my excuses. The thing is, I know all of you can relate. Unless you’re a trust-funder leading the life of leisure, you know how life gets in the way of the best-laid plans. There’s always something that needs to get done, demanding more precious moments of your day. Suddenly, the sun has set, it’s 9 p.m. — and you haven’t even squeezed in your workout yet. 

      Been there, done that. And I’ve found an incredible solution, one that ensures I don’t skip my training and stay on track toward my fitness goals. How? I got creative, and combined the tenets of the Tabata cardio method with weights for fast, challenging, effective workouts that get the job done in a fraction of the time of a traditional session. 


      Got Four Minutes to Spare? 

      If you’ve read my previous articles, you’ve heard me talk about Tabata before. In May, I mentioned it in “The 4 Most Effective Ways to Burn Fat.” To recap: Tabata was born out of a 1996 study performed by Japanese researcher Dr. Izumi Tabata on a group of highly trained Olympic speed skaters.1  

      The research subjects performed 7-8 rounds of 20 seconds of cycling at 170 percent of VO2 max, followed by 10 seconds of rest. This short-duration workout — about four minutes, all told — was shown to be more effective for improving aerobic and anaerobic capacity compared to lengthier moderate-intensity cardio performed the same number of times in a week. 

      Another study published in 2013 examined repeating the basic Tabata protocol for 4 rounds with a 1-minute rest between rounds.2 During this 20-minute workout, the subjects burned 240-360 calories —not counting the boost in energy expenditure experienced for days after. 

      Thing is, Tabata’s benefits aren’t just limited to fat burning. The 20-second bursts are well-suited for lifting, engaging your muscles to near-maximal levels when you choose an appropriate weight — in the following workouts, I suggest you start with 50 percent of what you’d normally use to elicit momentary muscular failure in a regular 10-rep set. As you get more experience with these Tabata workouts, you can increase your loads from there. 

      As for your rep cadence, you’ll want an explosive (yet controlled) positive contraction, followed by a controlled negative, with no extended pauses. Your goal is as many clean, high-quality reps as possible within those 20-second segments. 


      Six Sample Tabata Workouts 

      To get the most out of your Tabata workouts, make sure you warm up well and mix in some exercises that will engage more than one muscle group at a time.  

      For each of the workout ideas below, you’ll do eight 20-second rounds — in other words, you’d do each exercise listed for 20 seconds, switching between each exercise with minimal delay — and take only 10 seconds of rest to catch your breath between each round. You must complete 2 circuits of the 4 exercises listed in each workout below to finish the 4-minute Tabata workout. 



      1 Barbell Bench Press 

      2 Dumbbell Flye 

      3 Push-Up 

      4 Dumbbell Flye 



      1 Chin-up 

      2 One-Arm Row (right arm) 

      3 Chin-up 

      4 One-Arm Row (left arm) 



      1 Seated Barbell Press 

      2 Bent-Over Dumbbell Lateral Raise 

      3 Dumbbell Lateral Raise 

      4 Barbell Front Raise 



      1 Jump Squat 

      2 Stationary Lunge (left leg) 

      3 Jump Squat 

      4 Stationary Lunge (right leg) 



      1 Standing Barbell Curl 

      2 Parallel-Bar Dip 

      3 Dumbbell Hammer Curl 

      4 Cable Pressdown 



      1 Bicycle Crunch 

      2 Right-side Plank 

      3 Hanging Knee Raise 

      4 Left-side Plank 


      The Fast Lane to Gains

      The exercises above aren’t set in stone, by the way. Feel free to switch out like-for-like movements to freshen them up if you’ve used them a few times.  

      For instance, the barbell bench press could be replaced with an incline press, a dumbbell press, or a Smith-machine or Hammer-Strength press; the free-weight flyes could be traded for the pec-deck or cable crossover stations; and the push-up could be replaced by a dip. The key in these workouts is the Tabata protocol, and not dependent on exact exercise selection. (For alternatives on the other exercises, see “Quick Change.”) 

      You can use these workouts whenever you find yourself short on time — either just do one, or combine a couple if you prefer. And if you do have more than a few moments on your hands, you could get diabolical and do a full-body slam, running through each of these workouts. In that case, I’d suggest doing legs and back on the front end, arms and core on the back end. 

      With that said, I’ve gotta go — back to the grind #neversettle #freakmode 



      1. Tabata, I., Nishimura, K.,Kouzaki, M., Hirai, Y.,Ogita, F., Miyachi, M., & Yamamoto, K. (1996). Effects of moderate-intensity endurance and high-intensity intermittent training on anaerobic capacity and VO2max. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 28(10), 1327-1330. 
      2. Emberts, T.,Porcari, J., Dobers-tein, S., Steffen, J., & Foster, C. (2013). Exercise Intensity and Energy Expenditure of a Tabata Workout. Journal of Sports Science & Medicine, 12(3), 612.

      Quick Change 

      Here are some alternatives for each of the exercises in these workouts: 

      Chin-up: Pulldown to Front, Pulldown to Rear, Assisted Pull-Up 

      One-Arm Row: Bent-Over Barbell Row, T-Bar Row, Seated Cable Row, Hammer-Strength Iso Row 

      Seated Barbell Press: Standing Barbell Press, Seated Dumbbell Press, Arnold Press, Upright Row 

      Bent-Over Dumbbell Lateral Raise: One-Arm Cable Bent-over Raise, Seated Bent-over Dumbbell Raise, Reverse Pec-Deck Flye 

      Dumbbell Lateral Raise: Cable Lateral Raise (one or both arms), Machine Lateral Raise, Kettlebell Raise 

      Barbell Front Raise: Dumbbell Alternating Front Raise, Cable Front Raise, Lying Cable Front Raise 

      Jump Squat: Step-up, Jump Up to Box, Dumbbell Squat, Barbell Squat 

      Stationary Lunge: Walking Lunge, Side-to-Side Lunge, Around-the-Clock Lunge 

      Standing Barbell Curl: Standing EZ-Bar Curl, Barbell or EZ-Bar Preacher Curl, One-Arm Dumbbell Preacher Curl, Preacher-Machine Curl 

      Parallel-Bar Dip: Bench Dip, Lying French Press, Close-Grip Bench Press 

      Dumbbell Hammer Curl: Dumbbell Preacher Hammer Curl, Dumbbell Spider Curl, Incline Dumbbell Hammer Curl, Palms-Down EZ-Bar Curl 

      Cable Pressdown: Rope Pressdown, V-bar Pressdown, Overhead Rope Extension, Seated Two-Hand Dumbbell Overhead Extension, Triceps Machine Extension 

      Bicycle Crunch: V-Up, Double Crunch, Cable Crunch, Machine Crunch 

      Side Plank: Standard Plank, Oblique Crunch, Decline Twisting Crunch 

      Hanging Knee Raise: Hanging Leg Raise, Hanging Knee Raise (holding medicine ball between knees), Lying Leg Raise (off bench or floor) 

      Morning or Evening: When Should You Schedule Your Workout?

      Morning or Evening: When Should You Schedule Your Workout?

      The struggle is real: should you work out in the morning or evening? The choice is yours, but which will help you to achieve your fitness goals?

      Here, we will evaluate the benefits to working out in the morning and evening to help you establish regularity in the timing of your workouts.

      Benefits of Morning

      Strengthening Hormones:

      Crucial, muscle-building hormones are at their highest levels in the morning. Testosterone, which helps to fuel energy – in addition to building muscle mass – is at its peak first thing in the morning. Testosterone levels are approximately one-third higher in the morning than during the rest of the day.

      Better Sleep:

      Studies have shown that individuals who work out in the morning power down faster in the evening. Increased sleep leads to the production of more growth hormones, resulting in higher metabolism and fat-burning qualities.

      Higher Metabolism:

      Morning workouts lead to higher metabolic rates. The process of increased metabolism during post-workout stems from Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption (“EPOC”). As the body uses more oxygen and energy to recover from a workout, you are more likely to burn calories at a faster rate throughout the day.


      Benefits of Evening

      Impactful Workouts:

      The body is more physically prepared for a workout in the evening. As your muscles and joints have been active all day, less warm up time is required for pre-workout and overall flexibility is heightened. With increased flexibility, you’re also less prone to injury.

      Reduced Negative Hormones:

      The stress hormone, cortisol, is catabolic, which means it works against testosterone by breaking down proteins in your muscles. Evening workouts are beneficial for capitalizing on reduced cortisol, as this “muscle-eating” hormone is 75% higher in the morning but normalizes itself at night.



      Our analysis leans on the side of morning workouts due to the higher levels of testosterone and the ability to produce natural GH with induced sleep.

      However, whether you choose to work out in the morning or evening, we offer TEST FREAK 2.0 and GH FREAK 2.0 to boost natural hormones and help you maximize your workout routines.

      Plus, even if you choose to partake in morning workouts (for the purpose of heightened testosterone), our clinically-proven dosage of LJ100 tongkat ali in TEST FREAK 2.0 helps to counter the excessive cortisol your body produces in the morning.

      Fat Loss Diets Part 4: Flexible Dieting

      Fat Loss Diets Part 4: Flexible Dieting

      What is Flexible Dieting?

      Flexible Dieting, also known as IIFYM or if it fits your macros, is a diet that focuses more on the macronutrient number and less on the nutritional value of a food. You still need to eat less to create a caloric deficit, but the focus is on what kind of food you are eating. The majority of the food in your diet needs to come from clean sources including whole natural fresh foods, and should be high in fiber, while about 20% can come from your favourite treats. Basically, the idea is that you can have your cake and eat it too! Research shows that those who follow more flexible diets eat less, lose more weight, are generally in a better mood and can sustain their diet for longer than those who attempt more rigid diets.

      How Do You Use Flexible Dieting?

      After you have determined how many calories you need to eat to lose weight, which is generally 10 to 12 times your body weight, the next step is to figure out your macronutrients. Use a ratio aimed at fat loss: 40-50% of calories from protein, 30-20% from carbs and 20-30% from fats. Divide these calories up over four to six meals per day.

      The next step, and perhaps the most exciting part of the diet, is choosing your macros. Stick to about 80-90% of your food choices from whole sources including fresh fruit, vegetables, non-starchy vegetables, good for you fats and lean sources of protein. Flexible dieting is also about maintaining a high dietary fiber intake which can help stabilize blood glucose levels and the remaining 10-20% can be from not so good choices like your favourite sweet treats or greasy indulgences!

      What Can You Expect?

      The best part of flexible dieting is that it is sustainable in the long run. Allowing for small provisions of ‘treats’ or bad foods supports not only psychological satisfaction, but also prevents you from suffering severe energy crashes, or craving foods that you would normally abstain from on a diet. On the flip side, this means you need to exercise some restraint when indulging in your favourites — which can be quite difficult for some!

      What Supplements Should I Use While on an IIFYM Diet?

      On any diet, your energy levels will feel lower than normal, as you are restricting your calories. To give you the extra boost you need to make it to the gym, we recommend VEGAN FREAK. This all-natural pre-workout provides a superfood support blend and comes in two delicious flavours: Natural Vanilla and Natural Dark Chocolate.

      To learn more about our vegan supplements and how they can support weight loss, click here.  


      A paleo diet can help combat the risk of a host of health problems, such as heart attack, stroke and diabetes by removing high sugar foods in the diet. Learn more about that and its other benefits in Part 5 of the Fat Loss Diets series!

      Fat Loss Diets Part 5: Paleo Diet

      Fat Loss Diets Part 5: Paleo Diet

      What is the Paleo Diet?

      Paleo or the Paleolithic Diet, also referred to as the caveman diet or hunter-gather diet, is a modern nutritional plan based on the presumed ancient diet of wild plants and animals consumed during the Paleolithic era. The modern version of this diet consists of fish, grass-fed meats, vegetables, fruit, fungi, roots, seeds and nuts. Excluded are grains, legumes, dairy products (except eggs), refined salt and sugar and processed oils.

      The exclusion of all high sugar and processed foods is what makes this diet so successful. Removing high sugar foods results in lower and more balanced blood glucose levels which decreases insulin response and makes you less likely to store excess carbs as fat. Research shows that diets high in refined grains are positively associated with higher fasting blood glucose concentrations and a higher prevalence of the metabolic syndrome — a group of health problems that increase your risk of heart attack, stroke and diabetes. The Paleolithic Diet effectively addresses these types of issues.

      How Do You Use the Paleo Diet?

      The Paleo Diet breaks down as follows: 56-65% of energy from animal foods and 36-45% from plant foods. The recommendation is that you opt for macronutrient ratios high in protein (19-35%), low in carbohydrates (22-40%), with a moderate to high fat intake (28-58%). Because of the restrictions on dairy and grains, this diet can be a bit more challenging to keep up with then other diets. The Paleo Diet means that easy protein sources like whey and yogurt and carb options like oatmeal are off the table. It takes planning and, for some, supplementation to get all the nutrients your body requires.

      What Can You Expect?

      The Paleo Diet has a similar macronutrient ratio to most diets that result in fat loss and muscle-building–high in protein and low in carbs. Research supports the use of low carbohydrate, high protein diets to stimulate fat loss, reduce cravings, induce satiety and lower the insulin response while also maintaining lean muscle. The restrictions of this diet can result in more prep work than you might be used to, but the result is rapid fat-burning and weight loss.

      What Supplements Should I Use on a Paleo Diet?

      Because it can be difficult to get all the nutrients your body needs while on the Paleo Diet, we recommend incorporating a complete source of protein like VEGAN FREAK. VEGAN FREAK also includes a superfood support blend to fuel energy production and overall health. If you’ve struggled with this type of restrictive diet in the path, VEGAN FREAK can be the key to sticking to your resolutions and reaching your goals this time around!

      To learn more about our vegan supplements and how they can help you reach your weight loss goals here!  



      Who is PHARMAFREAK?

      Bonded through their mutual love of chemistry and fitness, the perfect compound was born. Don Gauvreau (The Supplement Godfather) and Alex Savva (The FREAKMODE Trainer) founded PHARMAFREAK® in 2008, and this duo made it their mission to offer some of the most potent and effective sports supplements in North America. Made with premium, clinically-validated ingredients and the highest level GMP quality control standards, PHARMAFREAK® is a dedicated industry leader in research, development and creation of superior dietary supplements.



      Whether you’re looking for testosterone boosters, fat-burners, pre-workout or sleep aids, PHARMAFREAK’s goal is to help its customers reach their fitness goals. Offering a proven, four-week FREAKMODE training program – designed by Alex Savva himself (@MrRippedFreak) – to achieve maximum results, PHARMAFREAK offers more than just dietary supplements. Including training programs, workout plans and nutrition guides AND dietary supplements, PHARMAFREAK® was established to transform the lives of professional athletes, weight trainers, gym-goers, or anyone interested in general health, wellness and seekers of healthy and active lifestyles.


      Potent Products

      With both Savva and Gauvreau offering over 10+ years of experience in the dietary supplement industry, PHARMAFREAK® was created in response to consumer desire (and their own desire) of more potent products. Savva and Gauvreau both felt there was a gap in the industry, as neither of them were able to enrich their nutrient-intake, hormone levels or sleep patterns with the appropriate supplements that would allow them to fulfill their workout goals. With backgrounds in Science, Kinesiology, Certified Strength & Conditioning and Physical and Health Education, these two fitness FREAKS had a vision and were able to use their knowledge and experience to make educated improvements to health, fitness and supplement industries.


      FREAK Goals

      Designed with sport and physical training goals in mind, PHARMAFREAK’s variety of supplements support competition training and physique, muscle growth, quality of sleep and performance – including strength and agility. Including many keto and vegan-friendly options, PHARMAFREAK® makes being a FREAK accessible to anyone (and everyone).