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20 Minute Workouts: 15 Short Workouts To Suit Your Schedule

Short on time? Choose one of our quick and effective workouts to get your exercise in.

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Perhaps in a perfect world, we’d always have a solid 45 minutes to an hour to work out every day. Still, the reality is that with work, family, and other life responsibilities, we are lucky to sneak in any exercise at all. 

Fortunately, there is an abundance of evidence1Gillen, J. B., Martin, B. J., MacInnis, M. J., Skelly, L. E., Tarnopolsky, M. A., & Gibala, M. J. (2016). Twelve Weeks of Sprint Interval Training Improves Indices of Cardiometabolic Health Similar to Traditional Endurance Training despite a Five-Fold Lower Exercise Volume and Time Commitment. PLOS ONE11(4), e0154075. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0154075 to show that even workouts that last less than 10 minutes can be beneficial for your health.

On days when you are short on time, 20 minute workouts can be a great sweet spot—short enough to squeeze in on a lunch break, before breakfast when you have to head out the door for an early meeting, or before you need to get dinner on the table for the family.

In this guide, we’ve created a bunch of fun and effective 20 minute workouts, ranging from a 20 min ab workout and 20 minute bodyweight home workout to a 20 minute running workout and a 20 min HIIT workout. Have fun!

A person doing a 20 minute workout including push ups.

20 Minute Workouts

#1: Bodyweight Workout

This 20 minute total-body bodyweight strength workout can be done at home or when you’re traveling and don’t have access to dumbbells, resistance bands, or other exercise equipment.

Complete two rounds of the following ten bodyweight exercises and hit all of your major muscle groups:

  • 60 seconds jumping jacks
  • 60 seconds bodyweight squats
  • 60 seconds push-ups 
  • 60 seconds alternating forward lunges
  • 60 seconds chair/couch triceps dips 
  • 60 seconds burpees
  • 60 seconds calf raises
  • 60 seconds single-leg glute bridges (30 seconds per leg)
  • 60 seconds jump squats
  • 60 seconds plank 
Two people doing squats.

#2: AMRAP Workout

This is a challenging 20-minute AMRAP (As Many Reps As Possible) workout. While speed is important, squeezing in more reps should never be prioritized over using proper form.

Keep track of how many reps you can complete for each exercise over 60 seconds. Over time, when you return to this workout, you can monitor your improvements in body strength and fitness.

Complete two full rounds of the following:

  • 60 seconds burpees
  • 60 seconds squats—advanced athletes should use dumbbells or a kettlebell if they have access to equipment
  • 60 seconds push-ups 
  • 60 seconds step-ups and overhead presses, alternating legs 
  • 60 seconds pull-ups (use a resistance band or assisted pull-up machine if you aren’t strong enough for bodyweight pull-ups)
  • 60 seconds V-ups
  • 60 seconds lateral lunge and biceps curl (30 seconds per side)
  • 60 seconds bodyweight rows on TRX or suspension straps or bent-over dumbbell rows
  • 60 seconds calf raises 
  • 60 seconds dips (full dips for advanced athletes, bent knee chair dips for beginners, and straight leg chair dips for intermediate athletes)
A person doing a side plank.

#3: Abs Workout

Try this 20 min ab workout. There is no equipment necessary, which makes this another great at-home workout. 

Complete two sets of the following core exercises:

  • 60 seconds high plank with shoulder taps
  • 60 seconds forearm plank 
  • 60 seconds right side plank
  • 60 seconds left side plank 
  • 60 seconds Russian twist
  • 60 seconds bicycle crunch
  • 60 seconds V-ups
  • 60 seconds up-down plank 
  • 60 seconds dead bug
  • 60 seconds bird dog 
A person running up stadium stairs.

#4: Stairs Workout

Climbing stairs is a great form of cardio2Boreham, C. A. G., Wallace, W. F. M., & Nevill, A. (2000). Training Effects of Accumulated Daily Stair-Climbing Exercise in Previously Sedentary Young Women. Preventive Medicine30(4), 277–281. https://doi.org/10.1006/pmed.2000.0634 and strength combined into one workout. For this workout, you can use stadium stairs, stairs in a public building, or stairs in your apartment or house. Use good form and watch your step.

  • Warm up by walking up and down the stairs you intend to use for three minutes to get your heart rate up.
  • Run or walk up and down the stairs as fast as you can continuously for 15 minutes.
  • Cool down with two minutes of easy walking up the stairs. 

#5: HIIT Workout for Beginners

This 20-minute HIIT workout, or high-intensity interval training for beginners, can be done with any type of exercise, such as walking, running, cycling, swimming, deep water running, jumping rope, and rowing.

  • Warm up with five minutes of easy exercise.
  • 10 x 30 seconds hard, 30 seconds easy.
  • Cool down with five minutes of easy exercise.
People riding indoor cycles.

#6: Advanced HIIT Workout

HIIT workouts are extremely efficient as they are very high-intensity workouts. Let’s get that fat burning on!

  • Warm up with five minutes of easy exercise.
  • 12 x 45 seconds hard, 15 seconds easy.
  • Cool down with five minutes of easy exercise.

#7: Indoor Cycling Workout

  • Warm-up with three minutes of easy cycling at 80-90 rpm.
  • 5 x 90 seconds seated with high resistance 60-80 rpm, 30 seconds out of the saddle with high resistance.
  • 1-minute recovery light spin after each 2-minute interval.
  • 2 minute cool down.
2 people on rowing machines.

#8: Rowing Workout (Erg or Indoor Rowing)

  • Warm up with three minutes of easy rowing at 18-20 strokes per minute (ppm).
  • 4 x 3 minutes at max effort at 26, 28, then 30 spm (minute one of each set at 26 spm, minute 2 at 28 spm, and minute 3 at 30 spm) with 60 seconds at 20 spm recovery effort in between each.
  • 1 extra minute after the last one of easy rowing to cool down.

#9: Leg Workout

Use this 20 minute lower body workout to target your legs when you need a short workout for leg day. Use dumbbells or other weights for added resistance if you have access to them.

Complete two rounds of the following ten exercises:

  • 60 seconds burpees
  • 60 seconds forward lunges 
  • 60 seconds single-leg Romanian deadlifts (30 seconds per leg)
  • 60 seconds weighted step-ups (30 seconds per leg)
  • 60 seconds sumo squats
  • 60 seconds weighted calf raises
  • 60 seconds hamstring curls using a stability ball
  • 60 seconds lateral lunges (30 seconds per leg)
  • 60 seconds rear-elevated Bulgarian split squats (30 seconds per leg)
  • 60 seconds lateral walks with a resistance band (30 seconds in each direction)
A person doing a front lunge.

#10: Upper Body Workout

Use this 20 minute workout when you need a short workout for upper body strength, including working your arms, chest, and upper back. Use dumbbells or other weights for added resistance if you have access to them.

Complete two rounds of the following 10 exercises:

  • 60 seconds jumping jacks
  • 60 seconds regular push-ups
  • 60 seconds alternating biceps curls
  • 60 seconds pull-ups (assisted or body weight)
  • 60 seconds up-down plank
  • 60 seconds overhead presses
  • 60 seconds wide grip push ups 
  • 60 seconds reverse fly
  • 60 seconds chest fly
  • 60 seconds dumbbell punches
A person doing a plank.

#11: Hills Workout

This 20-minute hill sprint workout builds strength, power, and speed.

  • Warm-up by jogging for 5 minutes to the base of a short, steep hill (75-150 meters or so).
  • Sprint up the hill 10 x 30 seconds, jogging slowly down to your starting point.
  • Cool down by jogging for 3-4 minutes.

#12: Running 20 Minute Workout

A progression run is a great way to get an efficient quick workout without necessarily having to do a dedicated warm-up, which can interrupt your workout time. 

A progression run is exactly like it sounds: you start at a slow pace and gradually increase the speed and intensity of your run throughout the whole thing.

For a 20-minute progression run, start at a comfortable warm-up pace. By five minutes you should be at a moderate intensity or about a 6 to 7 on a rate of perceived exertion (RPE) scale of 1-10.

At the 10-minute mark, you should be at a 7-8 for your intensity. When you reach the 15-minute mark, ramp up to an 8-9. Finish out the last five minutes, pushing towards your maximum effort.

Take a few minutes to walk and stretch to cool down.

A person running.

#13: Cardio 20 Minute Workout

This 20-minute aerobic cardio workout is just a simple circuit of bodyweight calisthenics you can do at home, outside, in the gym, in a hotel room, or anywhere you have a few feet to move.

2 minutes of jogging in place to warm up

Then complete three sets of the following cardio exercises:

  • 60 seconds high knees sprinting in place
  • 60 seconds jumping jacks
  • 60 seconds side to side hops over a line
  • 60 seconds mountain climbers 
  • 60 seconds burpees
  • 60 seconds of fast feet (squatting down, legs wide, alternating weight-bearing legs as fast as you can)
People running on treadmills.

#14: Treadmill HIIT Workout

  • 5-minute warm-up jog.
  • 1 minute hard (5k pace or so for runners) at 2.0 incline / 45 seconds easy and at 0 incline
  • 1 minute hard at 3.0 incline / 45 seconds easy and at 0 incline
  • 1 minute hard at 4.0 incline / 45 seconds easy and at 0 incline
  • 1 minute hard at 5.0 incline / 45 seconds easy and at 0 incline
  • 1 minute hard at 6.0 incline / 45 seconds easy and at 0 incline
  • 1 minute hard at 5.0 incline / 45 seconds easy and at 0 incline
  • 1 minute hard at 4.0 incline / 45 seconds easy and at 0 incline
  • 1 minute hard at 3.0 incline / 45 seconds easy and at 0 incline
  • 1 minute hard at 2.0 incline
A person jumping rope.

#15: Jump Rope Workout

  • Warm up by jogging in place for 2 minutes.
  • 8 x 90 seconds jumping rope fast with 30 seconds of rest or easy jumping for recovery between each.
  • 2-minute cool down marching in place.

If you want more specific running HIIT workouts, read this next guide:

References

  • 1
    Gillen, J. B., Martin, B. J., MacInnis, M. J., Skelly, L. E., Tarnopolsky, M. A., & Gibala, M. J. (2016). Twelve Weeks of Sprint Interval Training Improves Indices of Cardiometabolic Health Similar to Traditional Endurance Training despite a Five-Fold Lower Exercise Volume and Time Commitment. PLOS ONE11(4), e0154075. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0154075
  • 2
    Boreham, C. A. G., Wallace, W. F. M., & Nevill, A. (2000). Training Effects of Accumulated Daily Stair-Climbing Exercise in Previously Sedentary Young Women. Preventive Medicine30(4), 277–281. https://doi.org/10.1006/pmed.2000.0634
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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