We associate a lot of things with the hit fitness show The Biggest Loser. There’s the mindful, motivational training; the breaking of physical and emotional barriers; and, of course, the emotional reveals of everyone’s final transformations. You may remember that star trainer Dolvett Quince was responsible for a lot of those transformations when he still graced our screens, and one of his signature body-sculpting routines is called the 30-1 method.
This game-changing workout seems too good to be true: It’s high intensity, takes just 15 minutes, and can be done pretty much anytime, anywhere. Not to mention the results, which work to tone the entire body and you’ll start feeling in as little as three weeks.
Interested in experiencing your own physical and emotional transformation? We have the full scoop on the 30-1 method below, with expert tips from Quince and personal trainer Brie Ogletree.
Meet the Expert
What is the 30-1 Method?
“The 30-1 method is a quick, 15-minute full-body workout using only bodyweight movements,” explains Ogletree. “The idea is to do 30 repetitions of each exercise and rest one minute before moving on to the next exercise.” While Ogletree gets creative with the exercises she includes in the workout and tailors them to each individual client, the standard 30-1 method includes just five bodyweight exercises: squats, push-ups, burpees, crunches, and triceps dips.
What are the Benefits?
You’d expect a workout from The Biggest Loser to pack an effective punch, and the 30-1 method does just that. “The purpose of the 30-rep, one-minute recovery routine is to build strength [and] define muscles like your chest, legs, butt, and core,” Quince says. “It gives you a goal to reach, with the idea that you have time to recover in a minute.” He explains that this workout format is designed to “test your weaknesses” and give you a chance to make them stronger. In this way, it serves as a good benchmark workout—one you can do periodically throughout your training program to assess your progress. As your fitness improves, you can complete more rounds during the 15 minutes.
Ogletree adds that five specific exercises in the 30-1 method offer a lot of benefits themselves. “Squats and push-ups are foundational movement patterns for building total-body strength. Burpees, no matter what variation you choose, will elevate your heart rate and get your blood pumping,” she explains. “Crunches can help strengthen your abdominal muscles, and dips will strengthen your chest and triceps.” Because you need only your body and 15 minutes, Ogletree notes that the 30-1 method a great option for getting in some movement that checks off both strength and cardio boxes if you’re short on time and resources.
What are the Drawbacks?
According to Ogletree, one drawback of the 30-1 method is that it lacks inherent progressive overload, which is an important principle in fitness training that involves systematically increasing the difficulty of your workouts over time to encourage progress. She says this is usually accomplished “by increasing the amount of weight you lift, increasing the number of repetitions you're doing, decreasing the amount of rest you're giving yourself between sets or exercises, or performing more total sets (increasing exercise density).” As you getting stronger and fitter from exercising, your body adapts to your workouts and they feel easier over time. In order to keep getting stronger and in better shape, you have to continually challenge the body and increase the difficulty or intensity of your sweat sessions.
“Because the structure of the 30-1 workout method is set at 30 repetitions and one minute of rest, there is no progression in this workout,” Ogletree cautions. “This may be okay for a few weeks, and you may see some initial strength, toning, and cardio benefits, but after a while, your body will get used to the workout and stop making adaptations because it's already adapted to the workout.”
The good news is that Ogletree has armed us with some ideas to help avoid getting stuck in a workout plateau. She recommends beginning with the standard 30-1 method for 2-4 weeks, or until it starts to feel relatively comfortable. Then, To progress the 30-1 method, Ogletree suggests trying one or more of the following:
- Adding a few additional repetitions to each exercise each week.
- Decreasing the rest interval by 10-15 seconds per week.
- Adding resistance in the form of dumbbells or bands.
A weighted vest is a great way to add resistance to bodyweight exercises.
How to Do the 30-1 Method
To get started with the 30-1 method, all you need is a timer, your body, and some water. Follow the order of exercises displayed in the graphic above. If you’re feeling intimidated and concerned you aren’t fit enough to take on the workout, Ogletree encourages you to think again. “Because this method is focused on bodyweight movements, anyone at any fitness level can make this workout method work for them by incorporating bodyweight exercises that challenge them where they're at,” she explains. You can always modify the exercises or the workout itself. For example, you can do push-ups on your knees or against the wall to make the exercise easier. Play around with the number of reps and length of the rest as well. Start with five to 10 reps if that’s where you are at right now. “Remember that some movement is always better than no movement at all! I think the 30-1 method is a great way to start moving regularly or to get a workout in if you're crunched on time,” says Ogletree.
And Quince has put enough people through the paces of this workout to know that it works. “Doing this routine two times a week, you’ll [start to] see results in three weeks and feel stronger, and look more toned,” Quince says.
Suddenly, pushing through 15 minutes of hard work seems totally worth it.