Making 20 Minutes Enough Time

I’m sure you all have heard someone say, “I don’t have the time to workout.”  This might even be a phrase that you’ve mentioned from time to time. We’ve all seen the mathematical equation that states one hour is only 4% of your day (1/24=.04).  Everyone has the ability to give 4% each day. As easy as that sounds, we are human. Somedays, we get busy. Somedays the 4% just isn’t something that we want to do. On days like that, I find myself saying, something is better than nothing.  If one hour is too much, try 20 minutes. Getting in a quick, 20 minute workout on your lunch break is plenty of time to work up a sweat. If getting an express workout is something you can see working in your schedule, here are a handful of tips that will help you out:

Biggest Bang for Your Buck

As we age and move past high school and college athletics our training goals may become a little more difficult to establish.  Training for a specific sport takes a backseat to training for health and longevity. Whatever your goals may be, there’s a good chance strength training makes the list.  How can we get a quality strength training workout in only twenty minutes? The answer to this is easier than you might think. Pick BIG, compound movements. Movements like squats, deadlifts, and presses utilize many muscles at the same time.  These are also movements that we can progressively load. Pick a compound movement, start a timer in your gym for 20 minutes and perform a set of five reps, every 90 seconds. Start with a light weight and progressively get heavier as the time goes on.  After 20 minutes, you will have completed 13 sets and 65 reps ranging from light, to medium, to heavy. In just 20 minutes, your heart rate will be high, sweat will be pouring, and you’ll complete 13 quality sets of a compound movement. In a time crunch, this is a perfectly suitable strength training workout.  

Short, Intense Bursts  

When I was in high school and even when I was in college, the word “cardio” was considered taboo.  I was an athlete, I didn’t need to do cardio. If I wanted to do cardio, I would just lift weights faster.  Now, freshly into my 30’s, it’s pretty obvious to me that maybe I was a bit harsh with my philosophy on cardio.  Now, not only do I realize that cardio is a foundational necessity for my heart and lung health, but I actually enjoy doing it.  Similar to my previous example with strength training, it’s very possible to complete a great cardiovascular workout in only 20 minutes.  By using short, intense bursts, you can maximize the time that you have. The first step is choosing your modality. A stationary bike, a treadmill, or a pool are awesome indoor options.  If you have the luxury of training outdoors, find the nearest track or grab your bike helmet and enjoy the sun.  

The second step is choosing your interval.  An awesome option on the stationary bike is the :30, :20, :10 method.  Set a timer for 20 minutes (again, short and sweet). For the first :30 seconds of each minute, pedal at a conversational pace.  The following :20 seconds, increase the speed to a brisk pace. 80% intensity is a great place to be for this interval. The final :10 seconds of each minute should be 100%, maximal intensity.  Sprint as fast as you can. Repeat this process for 20 minutes. Use the :30 seconds at the beginning of each minute to control your breathing and lower your heart rate. In only 20 minutes you’ll be able to check one of your weekly cardio sessions off the list.  

Bring the Gym to Your Living Room  

The common theme of this article is maximizing the small amount of time that you have, each day, to complete a quality workout.  My first two examples require a gym or a piece of cardio equipment. My final example is one of the easiest and most underutilized forms of exercise.  It doesn’t require a gym or any equipment. In fact, you can complete this workout in 20 minutes, from the comfort of your own living room. The classic bodyweight circuit can provide hundreds of exercise variables and give you an opportunity to train from home in a very small amount of time.  You can choose cardio based movements, upper body movements, or lower body movements. The exercise options are endless. For example, take push-ups, air squats, burpees, and jumping split lunges. Perform as many reps as you can of the first movement in :45 seconds. Use the following :15 seconds to regroup for the next exercise.  As the second minute starts, again, perform as many reps as possible of the next movement. Regroup for the following :15 seconds. Repeat this process for the final two movements. After you have completed :45 seconds of each movement, you have completed one round. Repeat this sequence five times. In the comfort of your own home, without equipment, in only 20 minutes, you have completed another workout.  

Closing Thoughts 

Fitness doesn’t have to be hard.  It doesn’t have to be stressful. It can be quick and enjoyable.  You can do it anywhere and you don’t need the best gym or the best equipment to be successful.  Get creative. Set small goals and hold yourself accountable. Start with 20 minutes each day. If you choose movements that give you the best bang for your buck, use short, intense burst, and bring the gym to your living room, you’ll set yourself up for a sustainable, long-term fitness journey.  What are some other ways that you can get a great workout in only 20 minutes? Shoot us a line, we’d love to hear from you. Let’s get fit together.  

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