Can 30 Minutes Of Personal Training Be Long Enough?

Not everyone can afford to hire a personal trainer or fitness instructor for a full hour, and a lot of people don’t have the luxury of having an hour to spare.

So what about shorter sessions? Is a 30 minute personal training session enough for some people?

In this article, I will be explaining how you can get the most out of half-hour personal training sessions so that even people with the shortest of lunch breaks can benefit from hiring a PT.

Sound good?

Let’s go….

In general 30 minutes of personal training is best suited to high-intensity weight loss sessions, however, by making use of specific training styles, resistance training can also be implemented within a half an hour training session with excellent results still possible.

So we know that a traditional resistance-based session of multiple exercises of three or four sets with multiple rest periods is seriously tough to get done in half an hour. All the silly little things like going and finding the right weights, putting them back and god forbid having to wait for something, really add up to make the time go seriously quickly.

But just because it’s tough to get a traditional workout completed in such a short time, doesn’t mean that you can’t still get a great workout finished in a lunch break or straight after work.

Let’s get cracking with some of the ways that you can get the best bang for your buck with half-hour training sessions.

Make it a seriously intense HIIT workout

30 minute personal training workout

Ok, so you probably know that exercising and dieting mixed together is the fastest way to lose weight, but you also know that lifting weights can speed things up even more.

The question is, how can you get the most calories burnt in 30 minutes with a trainer?

The answer is easy, HIIT or “High-Intensity Interval Training” workouts.

These sessions are made up of intense exercises followed by very short rest periods, for example, 30 seconds of maximum effort exercise followed by 30 or 20 seconds rest.

Examples of effective HIIT exercises:

  • Burpees
  • Jump squats
  • Exercise Ball slams
  • Kettlebell clean and presses

Because there is very little progressive overload (the stimulus needed to build muscle), you won’t be changing your appearance in any way other than fat loss, but if that’s your main goal, HIIT training is going to be one of the most effective ways of using 30 mins in a gym.

Pretty much every trainer these days knows about HIIT workouts, so if you ask them to put together a bunch of high-intensity workouts for you, I’m sure they’ll be very happy to.

Warmup, cool down, and stretch by yourself

Man stretching

Warming up and stretching is really important, but people hardly ever do it. That’s why I pretty much forced my clients into doing it by making it a mandatory part of every session we had. I also didn’t want them getting hurt, which is exactly why you should warm-up, cool down, and stretch.

Much as this is important, if you are only able to get a half-hour training session in with a PT due to cost, you should come to the gym early, do you own ten or so minute warm-up, meet your trainer for a half-hour session of weight training, and then cool down and stretch yourself after the session.

If you spend any time doing this with your trainer, you are wasting money (as it’s something you can do yourself pretty efficiently) and you will waste a lot of your session where you could be making those precious gains!

Trainers are totally cool with this, and it’s something I did with a lot of my half-hour clients, just make sure you have a chat with them before you start training so they can show you the stretches you need to be doing and how to warm up and cool down properly.

Pro Tip: Don’t skip the stretching! I’ve done it before when I was in a rush (or being lazy, I forget now), and I pulled a muscle in my chest that hurt for about six weeks. I learned from that point why people are always saying it’s important, although I should have already known better really!

Make use of supersets

Man doing biceps curls

Something your trainer might suggest is something called “Supersets”, these aren’t quite as scary as they sound (or they might be depending on how brutal your trainer is).

The idea behind supersets is that when one muscle is working to its fullest, the opposing muscle is not. This means there is really no need to fully rest before starting a set of exercises on the opposing muscle group.

That sounds complicated, but hopefully, this example will clear things up.

Imagine performing a bicep curl (pulling weights in your hands from your thighs to your shoulders), this exercise mainly works muscles on the front of your arm, the muscles on the back of the arm aren’t working anywhere near as hard, so there’s no reason why you can’t go straight into an exercise that works the back of the arm after.

This type of workout can be used for small and large muscle groups, which means a whole lot fewer rest periods, but also means a lot more exercise being performed in a very short period of time, perfect for getting a great workout finished in a very short period of time.

Keep to one location

Gyms are big places, so if you want to get a decent workout in only 30 minutes, you probably won’t be seeing much more than a few square meters of it.

The most practical way to get a half-hour intense workout complete is to set up an area on the gym floor with all the weights and kit you will need and then quickly moving from one exercise to another without moving from the spot.

There are several reasons this works, firstly, it means there is no time at all wasted by walking from one area to another, (which can take up more time than you’d imagine), and also, it completely eliminates the concern of having to wait for equipment that other gym-goers are using.

Don’t be surprised if when walking into your training session, you are greeted by your trainer with a sea of dumbbells, kettlebells, and other fun gadgets. It does make for a pretty intense and pretty fun workout though, so I’m sure you’ll enjoy it whilst totally getting your money’s worth.

Train large muscle groups

woman performing a deadlift

Not every workout has to be HIIT or circuits based to be effective.

Another way to get great a deal of work done in a short period of time is to focus on the large muscle groups by using multi-joint movements (like deadlifts) and forgetting about single-joint movements (like biceps curls).

Single joint exercises like biceps curls, knee extensions, and ab curls can be done very easily yourself without the need for supervision by a trainer, so there’s no need to do these within your half-hour PT session.

What you do need assistance with, are the big exercises like, squats, deadlifts, bench presses, and rows. If you aren’t into using weights to reach your goals, these exercises should help you to change your mind pretty quickly!

In my opinion, there are few (if any) workouts that will burn calories as effectively and help you reach your fitness goals as quickly as these types of exercises. They can be more intimidating and yes, there is a slightly higher chance of injury, but, that’s exactly why you are hiring a trainer.

By using exercises like these, I assure you, you’ll see results faster than any other method I have mentioned above. Give the big exercises a go, I bet you’ll really enjoy them if you give them a chance.


Hopefully, you’ve seen from this article that a 30 minute pt session can absolutely be enough to get some great results. The sessions will be a little different from what you may see others doing in the gym with their trainers (mostly standing around chatting) but it’s not as if you would want to be paying to do that is it?

The best advice I can give you is to talk to your trainer!

Explain that you only have time for half-hour sessions with them, but you want to get as much exercise completed as possible to get the most for your money, PTs aren’t scary or monsters, they will understand this, and if anything, they should be encouraging this type of thinking.

Discuss your goals with your trainer, and they will come up with the most appropriate way to help you out, you don’t always need an hour to get great results.

Go get ’em!

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Chris Walker

Chris Walker worked in the City of London as a fully qualified REP's level three personal trainer for just under ten years. He built and maintained a client base of 40 individuals and worked with several high profile clients, including actors, actresses, comedians and politicians.

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