20 Minute Workouts: 15 Short Workouts To Suit Your Schedule

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

Fortunately, there is an abundance of evidence 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 min workouts, ranging from a 20 min ab workout and 20 minute bodyweight workout to a 20 minute running workout and a 20 min HIIT workout. Keep reading for some new short workout ideas to add to your fitness routine.

A person doing a 20 minute workout including push ups.

20 Minute Workouts: 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 10 bodyweight exercises:

  • 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 bridges (30 seconds per leg)
  • 60 seconds jump squats
  • 60 seconds plank 
Two people doing squats.

20 Minute Workouts: 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 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 you 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.

20 Minute Workouts: Abs Workout

Try this 20 min ab workout. No equipment necessary! 

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.

20 Minute Workouts: Stairs Workout

Climbing stairs is a great form of cardio and strength combined into one workout. You can use stadium stairs, stairs in a public building, or your apartment or house for this workout. Use good form and watch your step.

  • Warm-up by walking up and down the stairs you intend to use for three minutes.
  • 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. 

20 Minute Workouts: HIIT Workout for Beginners

This 20 min HIIT workout 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.

20 Minute Workouts: Advanced HIIT Workout

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

20 Minute Workouts: 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.

20 Minute Workouts: Rowing Workout (Erg or Indoor Rowing)

  • Warm-up with three minutes of easy rowing at 18-20 strokes per minute (spm).
  • 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.

20 Minute Workouts: Leg Workout

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

Complete two rounds of the following 10 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.

20 Minute Workouts: Upper Body Workout

Use this 20 minute upper body workout when you need a short workout to strengthen 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.

20 Minute Workouts: Hills Workout

This 20-minute hill sprints 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 3-4 minutes.

20 Minute Workouts: Running Workout

A progression run is a great way to get an efficient workout in a short amount of time without necessarily having to do a dedicated warm-up, which can eat into 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 get to the 15-minute mark, ramp up to an 8-9. Finish out the last five minutes pushing towards your max effort.

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

A person running.

20 Minute Workouts: Cardio Workout

This 20-minute 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.

20 Minute Workouts: 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.

20 Minute Workouts: 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.

What are your favorite 20 min workouts? How do you like to exercise when you are short on time?

If you are looking for some more specific running HIIT workouts, you can check out our article HIIT Running Workouts: Benefits, How To + 5 HIIT Running Exercises.

Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, and contributes to several fitness, health, and running websites and publications. 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.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.