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Have Only 20 Minutes To Work Out? We've Got You Covered

by Shannon Flanagan, CPT - June 09, 2021

I have been a personal trainer for over 12 years and I have heard a lot of different excuses from clients on why they just couldn't make it to the gym. The most commonly used excuse is "I don't have time."

But I believe you can always make time for things that are important to you. It's all about prioritizing your time. If you have a hard time fitting in workouts, just know you don't need much time to get a good workout in. Incorporating 20-minute workouts a few times a week can help you add regular exercise to your routine. Read on for how to get started. 

Is a 20-minute workout really enough?

Yes — if you use your time at the gym wisely. Here are two 20-minute workouts (that are time-efficient and effective) to try on those days when you are crunched for time. There are plenty of workouts you can do from home, with bodyweight or weights, so you don't even need to factor in commute time to the gym.

How do you do a 20-minute workout?

How you structure your workout depends on your goals. If you're looking to make the most of your time, you can try a full-body, HIIT workout. Below, we've outlined two options that target multiple muscle groups for you to try, structured as EMOM (every minute on the minute) workouts.

Two Killer 20-Minute Workouts

20-minute workout

How to do it:

  • Lively Tip: EMOM stands for "every minute on the minute."
Start at the top of the minute and perform the suggested number of reps as quickly as you can (without sacrificing form) and then rest for the reminder of the minute. Or, perform each move for 35 – 40 seconds, then rest for the remainder of the minute. You can adjust rep count or exercise time to allow for more rest as needed. You'll need dumbbells or kettlebells.

    Workout 1

    How to do it: Complete 10 rounds of each exercise.

    Kettlebell Swing or Deadlift (20–25)

    Kettlebell Swing
    Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder-width with a kettlebell about a foot in front of you. With your weight in your heels, hinge at your hips while lowering your hands to the kettlebell handle. Grab the kettlebell with an overhand grip. Hike the kettlebell back between your legs, catching the force of the moving kettlebell with your hips. Exhale as you swing the kettlebell forward by thrusting your hips, straightening your legs, and squeezing your glutes and abs. Once the kettlebell reaches chest height, inhale as you allow it to fall, and guide it back to the hiked position.

    Kettlebell Deadlift
    Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and position a heavy kettlebell between your feet. Push your hips back and bend your knees while lowering your hands to the kettlebell horns. Your shins should stay vertical. Exhale as you push the floor away with your heels to extend your hips and rise to standing. Inhale as you slowly lower the kettlebell back toward the ground by hinging at the hips and allowing your knees to bend as needed.

    Thruster (10–15)
    Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and one dumbbell in each hand, racked at your shoulders. Send hips back and lower into a squat. Keeping core braced, return to standing, and as you do, lift dumbbells overhead. Lower dumbbells to return to staring position and repeat.

     

    Workout 2

    How to do it: Complete as many reps of each move as you can in 35–40 seconds, then rest for the remainder of the minute. Complete 5 rounds.

    Dumbbell Clean
    Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding one dumbbell in each hand in an overhand grip. Squat down with neutral spine so dumbbells are in front of your feet. Then, flip wrists to face forward as you bring the weights to your shoulders, slightly jumping as you do. Slowly straighten your legs to stand. Then, lower the weights down to thigh-height before returning to starting position. Repeat.

    Front Squat
    Stand with feet hips-width apart, holding one dumbbell in each hand. Rest one dumbbell on each shoulder. Initiate the movement by sending the hips back as if you’re sitting back into a chair. Bend knees to lower down as far as possible with chest lifted in a controlled movement. Keep lower back neutral. Press through heels to stand back up to starting position. Repeat.

    Push Press
    Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and one dumbbell in each hand, racked at your shoulders. Slightly bend knees and dip torso downward. As you extend your legs by pushing through heels, use the momentum to punch both arms upward. Pause, then return to starting.

    Bent-Over Row
    Stand with feet slightly wider than hip-width and knees slightly bent and one kettlebell or dumbbell in each hand. Hinge at hips and bend over to a 45-degree angle, keeping back straight. Engage your core and lift barbell straight up toward stomach, bringing arms no higher than parallel to the shoulders, keeping back flat. Slowly lower down and repeat.

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