A workout that only takes 20 minutes is appealing because it doesn’t take up a lot of time. This type of workout can be done during a lunch break and still leaves time to spare.
You can have an impactful workout in 20 minutes—as long as you’re doing it right. We asked Marvin Burton, a master trainer we spoke to through Anytime Fitness, if it was really possible to do much good in just 20 minutes. He said that you can have a significant workout in 20 minutes, as long as you do it correctly.
Can you really get a good workout in 20 minutes?
If you are already in good shape, 20 minutes of exercise can give you a good workout. Be aware that working out at a high intensity without being in good shape can be dangerous.
Do you need to go hell for leather if you’re only doing a 20-minute workout?
There are many advantages to low-intensity exercise. For example, it can help reduce stress, while adding high-intensity exercise to an already hectic lifestyle can do more harm than good! Low-intensity exercises also help with body fat and baseline fitness. If every training session you do is high-intensity, you will be creating a long-term problem.
Can you stay in shape only by doing 20-minute workouts or do you also need to do longer sessions too?
It is better to do longer sessions when possible.
A more important question would be, how much time can you give to exercise? If you only have 20 minutes to spare, then you should focus on additional forms of exercise and lifestyle changes that improve your sleep, digestion, and overall fitness level.
What are the best types of exercise to do in 20 minutes for the popular training goals – aiming to lose weight, build muscle or get fitter?
To lose weight, you should exercise your whole body using as many joints and muscles as possible. This includes lifting weights, doing bodyweight exercises, or doing total-body cardiovascular exercises like running, rowing, or a weights circuit.
To build muscle, you should focus on working major muscle groups and following functional patterns of exercise. This means incorporating moves like pushing, pulling, rotational movements, lifting, slamming, or throwing into your routine.
Doing exercises to increase your heart rate will help you to sustain higher levels of heart rate, which will help you improve over time. This is known as building your threshold. Cycling is a great way to do this.
What would you recommend for a 20-minute workout?
This workout is a full-body workout that is good for building muscle and losing fat. The workout is split into two circuits, with each circuit focusing on either the lower body or the upper body. Each circuit should take around ten minutes to complete.
The goal is to work through as many sets of weighted exercises as possible, using a weight that you can lift for 10-12 reps with a 45 second rest in between sets. Each rep should take four seconds to complete, with two seconds to lower the weight and two to raise it. You should be close to failure at the end of set two and unable to fully complete set three.
Lower Body Circuit
Do as many rounds of these three exercises as possible in ten minutes, going at a 2020 tempo for each exercise.
- 45° leg press
To use the leg press machine, sit with your back flat against the pad and your feet in a high and wide position on the plate. Push the weight up, then bring it back down. Keep the weight moving at a controlled pace and avoid stopping at the top or bottom of the movement.
- Leg curl
To do this exercise, you can either use a machine at the gym, or a gym ball. If you use a machine, curl your leg backwards from the knee, and make sure that your upper body does not move. If you are sitting on a gym ball, make sure to keep downward pressure through your heels throughout the exercise.
- Walking lunge
Reps 10 each leg
To paraphrase, take long strides and lift your leg high as if you are stepping over a box. Keep your chest up.
Upper Body Circuit
- Dumbbell bent-over row or seated row
When doing a bent over row, instead of moving your elbows out to the sides, move them straight up. Keep your chest parallel to the floor, and don’t look in the mirror; look down instead. For a seated row, make sure your arms are fully extended, and bring your shoulder blades back each time you move your elbows.
- Dumbbell bench press
I) To stretch your chest muscles, lower the weights to the bottom of your range of motion. At the bottom, turn the weights outwards slightly to allow for a greater range. Then, press the weights up until your arms are straight. Inhale as you lower, exhale as you press, and keep your back flat on the bench throughout.
- Seated dumbbell overhead press
To do this move, sit on the floor with your legs extended, back straight, and chest lifted. Press the weights overhead from your shoulders, and then bring them down. Make sure to keep your core tight throughout the movement.
More 20-Minute Workouts
Time: 20 minutes
Good for: Full body-toning
While performing as many repetitions as possible, maintain good form and proper technique during the set time. There may be breaks in between exercises, as noted.
- High Knees
To do this move, start by standing on a mat. Raise your right knee so it’s level with your hip, keeping your foot flexed. At the same time, bring your left elbow forward and your right elbow back. Return to the starting position, then repeat the move on the other side. Keep alternating sides and try to go faster for an added challenge. See how many repetitions you can do in 30 seconds, then move on to the next move.
- Butt Kicks
To do this exercise, stand with your core engaged. Touch your right heel to your right glute, then bring your right foot back to the ground. Repeat on the other side. Continue alternating sides. If you want a challenge, do it faster. Do as many reps as you can in 30 seconds, then move on to the next exercise.
- Jumping Jacks
To start, stand with your hands by your sides. Jump your legs open, slightly wider than hip-distance, and bring your hands up overhead. Jump your legs back together and arms down by your sides, and then repeat. Complete as many repetitions as possible in 30 seconds, and then continue to the next move.
- Inchworm Walkouts
stand up bend over until your hands touch the ground and your body is straight walk your hands out until your shoulders are over your wrists if your hamstrings are tight, you can bend your knees slightly walk your hands back toward your feet stand up repeat
- Lateral Bear Crawl
To do this move, start by getting into bear plank position. This means that your shoulders should be over your wrists, your knees should be under your hips, and you should be hovering a few inches off of the mat. Then, move your hands and feet to the left for three steps. Make sure to keep your hips stable, your head in line with your tailbone, and your knees lifted off of the floor. You don’t want your feet or hands to cross. After you’ve moved your hands and feet to the left for three steps, move them to the right for three steps. Try to complete as many reps as possible in 30 seconds, alternating directions. When you’re done, move on to the next move.
- Alternating Side Plank
To do this move, start by getting into elbow plank position. Your shoulders should be over your elbows, and your feet should be hip-width apart. Then, rest on your back on your feet and rotate your right arm up towards the ceiling. This will open up your chest. Bring your right hand back down to the ground, and then switch sides. Complete as many reps as possible in 30 seconds, alternating sides, and then continue to the next move.
- Bodyweight Squat
To do this workout, start by standing with your feet hip-distance apart and your toes pointed out slightly. Then, keeping your head in line with your tailbone, sit while shifting your hips back. Lower down until your thighs are parallel with the ground. Finally, drive up through your heels to standing and repeat. Complete as many reps as possible in 45 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds. Proceed to the next move.
- Pushup Hold
To do this exercise, start by getting into plank position, with your shoulders over your wrists and your feet hip-distance apart. From there, lower your body down and hold it in place about 6 inches above the mat. If you need a break, drop down to your knees and press back up to plank. concludes the move. Repeat the move as many times as you can in 45 seconds, and then rest for 10 seconds before moving on to the next move.
- Triceps Dips
Start by lying on your stomach with your fingers pointing towards your toes and your body lifted about 6 inches off the ground. Put your weight in your arms and then keep your core engaged as you alternate between bending and extending your arms. Your elbows should point backwards the entire time. Complete as many reps as possible in 45 seconds. Rest for 10 seconds and then continue to the next move.
- Quick Feet
To start, stand with your feet wide apart and your hands in front of you, bent at the knee. Quickly alternate between lifting your right and left feet a few inches off the ground, making sure to keep your core tight. Do as many reps as possible in 45 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds before moving on to the next move.
- Bodyweight Squat
To do this exercise, start by standing with your feet hip-distance apart and your toes pointed out slightly. Then, sit while shifting your hips back. Lower yourself down until your thighs are parallel with the ground. Finally, drive up through your heels to standing and repeat. Complete as many reps as possible in 45 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds. Proceed to the next move.
- Reverse Lunge To Single-Leg Deadlift
Stand on your left foot and step your right foot back, dropping your right knee to the ground. Press through your left heel and without putting your right foot on the ground, stretch your right leg and arm out to the sides until your torso is parallel with the floor. Return to the starting position and repeat as many times as you can in 45 seconds. Rest for 10 seconds, then switch to your right side and repeat.
- Seated Straight-Leg Lift
Start by sitting on the ground with your legs out in front of you. While sitting up straight and engaging your core, lean forward slightly. Keep your feet flexed as you lift your right heel 3 to 5 inches off the ground. Pause and then lower your heel back down. Repeat this with your left leg. Do as many repetitions as you can in 45 seconds, alternating legs, and then take a 10 second break. Move on to the next move.
- Plank Rotation
To complete this move, start by assuming the elbow plank position. From there, rotate your body to the left side while keeping your hips stable and your core engaged. Return to the starting position and repeat the move on the right side. Aim to complete as many reps as possible within 45 seconds, alternating sides, and then take a 10 second break before moving on to the next move.
- Triple Triple
To begin, start by lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor about 6 inches away from your butt. Place your hands behind your head and lift your chest up toward the ceiling three times, keeping your lower back pressed into the mat. Once your shoulders have rested on the mat, keeping your feet flexed, lift your heels straight up toward the ceiling three times, bringing your hips off of the mat 2 to 3 inches each time. For the next 30 seconds, complete as many reps as possible before moving on to the next move.
- Reverse Table Top Pull Through
Begin in a tabletop position, with your hips lifted and your shoulders over your wrists. Your knees should be over your feet, and your chest should be open so that your body is flat. Slowly lower your hips down and through your arms, extending your legs and keeping your hips off the ground. Pull your body back through to the start and repeat. Complete as many reps as possible for 30 seconds, and then continue to the next move.
- Plank Hold
To perform this move, start by placing your forearms on the ground. Next, lift your body up so that your head is in line with your heels, your shoulders are over your elbows, and your feet are hip distance apart. You can keep your feet together or move them apart to make the move easier. Be sure to keep your core engaged and your tailbone tucked under. Hold the position for 30 seconds.