This 20-minute workout will help you burn calories, increase endurance, improve athleticism, and even challenge you mentally. All you need is just your bodyweight!
Workout Summary

Workout Description

Here’s the situation. You had to work late, you’re rushing to get out the door and into the car. Traffic is busier than usual and time is running out. You look at the clock and realize there is no way that you’re making it to the gym before it closes. Well, no workout for you today. 

People that are truly dedicated to this wonderful thing we call fitness know that a gym isn’t required to get a great session in. As a matter of fact, the only thing you really need is something that you have with you at all times, your body.

That body is all that is required for this workout. Your body will be the tool to help you get your body right. This 20-minute workout will help you burn calories, increase endurance, improve athleticism, and even challenge you mentally. The result will be changes in the way your body looks and feels.

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The Overall Premise

Use this program three or four times a week over the next six weeks as a way to help you get a great cardio session in. It can be performed after your weight training work is done or as a stand-alone workout. This is a versatile program, so plug it in where you feel it would serve you best. It also serves as a great addition to our 6 Week Summer Workout Challenge.

The philosophy of this routine is High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). HIIT workouts allow you to get a lot of work done without a major time commitment. You alternate periods of all-out effort (high intensity) with periods of rest and recovery. Since the body will not be prepared for the frequent changes in intensity level, the chances of adaptation are decreased. This will result in changes in heart rate, body temperature, and breathing patterns. In other words, you’re going to be exhausted. The long-term result? A leaner, stronger, and overall better body.

The Workout

The only things you will need for this are space and a clock or watch. It can be done inside or outside, depending on your preference. There are nine bodyweight exercises you will perform in this one circuit or giant set. Count reps, don’t count reps, that is up to you. Just make sure you keep your eye on the clock because the time is the number that matters.

You will begin doing this program by alternating 40 seconds of work with 20 seconds of “rest”. As you know, that comes out to one minute. That 20 second time period is meant for you to take deep breaths, transition to the next movement, and get yourself mentally ready to go. 

As the workouts pass, you will likely notice that it takes a little less effort to complete the workout. At this point, you need to challenge yourself. So you’ll add five seconds of work time and take away five seconds of rest time. Make it a goal to do this two weeks after you start the program. Once the 45/15 splits become easier, you will add five more seconds of work and subtract five seconds of rest. Here is how those minutes of work will look over the course of the next six weeks.

  • Weeks 1 and 2 – 40 seconds of work, 20 seconds of rest
  • Weeks 3 and 4 – 45 seconds of work, 15 seconds of rest
  • Weeks 5 and 6 – 50 seconds of work, 10 seconds of rest

You will notice that there are nine exercises. At the end of the ninth exercise, you get a one-minute break. After that minute, you flip the script and perform the exercises the opposite way. Start with the last exercise and work your way back up to the top of the list.

Related: The Best HIIT Routines for Cardio Equipment

Man doing push ups on a yoga mat in gym.

The Exercises

Forward Lunge

For the forward lunge, place the hands on the hips and stand tall. Lunge forward with the left foot as far as you can or until the knee touches the floor. Return to the starting position. Repeat with the right foot. Continue until the time expires.

Bodyweight Squat

For the bodyweight squat, stand tall with hands on the top of your head. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart. Squat down as far as you can or until the hips are lower than the knees. Return to the standing position. Continue until time expires.

Mountain Climber

For the mountain climber, get into a pushup position with arms locked out. Bring your left knee in as quickly as you can. When you push the left leg back, bring in the right knee. This should be similar to a running-in-place motion. Repeat by continuing to alternate legs until time expires.

Running in Place

I don’t think you need instructions on running in place, do you? Good. Let’s move on.

Burpees

Drop down into a squat position. Place the hands on the floor. Kick the legs back behind you so that you end up in a push-up position. Perform a pushup. Bring the knees back in. Return to the standing position and jump in one motion. Repeat until time expires.

High Kick

Stand straight and tall. Kick up in front of you as high as you can. When your foot comes down, reset yourself and repeat with the opposite foot. Repeat until time expires.

Hand Chest Press and Row

Stand straight and tall. Straighten your arms out in front of you. Make fists with your hands and perform a rowing motion. Pretend you have a lot of weight in your hands. Squeeze the muscles in your back when you reach the end of the row. Open the hands up, and perform a press like you’re pushing something heavy away from you. Squeeze the chest hard when your arms are locked out. Repeat until time expires.

Sit-Up

For the sit-up, lie on the floor with legs bent and feet flat. Place the hands behind the head, but don’t clasp them together. Keep elbows flared out. Using the abs, sit up as high as you can until you feel the abs contract hard. Lower yourself back down under control to the starting position. Repeat until time expires.

Bicycles

For the abdominal bicycles, stay in the same position you were for the sit-ups. Lift your legs up so they are bent at a 90-degree angle. Bring the left knee in and sit up while bringing in your right elbow. Go back to the starting position, and repeat with the opposite knee and elbow. Continue until time expires.

Man doing bodyweight squat in gym.

20 Minute HIIT Workout

Perform this cycle twice, but do the exercises in the reverse order the second time.

Exercise Time Rest
Forward Lunge 40-50 sec 10-20 sec
Bodyweight Squat 40-50 sec 10-20 sec
Mountain Climber 40-50 sec 10-20 sec
Running in Place 40-50 sec 10-20 sec
Burpees 40-50 sec 10-20 sec
High Kick 40-50 sec 10-20 sec
Hand Chest Press and Row 40-50 sec 10-20 sec
Sit Up 40-50 sec 10-20 sec
Bicycles 40-50 sec 1 minute

Modifications & Progressions

No one is going to be expected to go into this workout as if they are world-class athletes. Some of you may be beginners, and as a result, these exercises may be challenging. That is perfectly fine. If you can’t go down all the way for a lunge, go down as far as you can or use chairs to help you return to the standing position. If you can’t kick as high as you’d like to, kick as high as you can. The goal is to get better, right? Let this program serve as the way to help you get better. The only aspect of this that you need to be firm on is the work time. Don’t do less than 40 seconds of work and give yourself no more than 20 seconds of rest. 

Now let’s discuss the opposite extreme. You may find that these exercises aren’t that difficult, even after going up to 50 seconds of work. Throw on a weighted vest to add extra resistance if you want to make these movements more challenging. You can also substitute new exercises if you like. The M&S Exercise Video Database has a lot of great movements for you to plug so you can add more variety and challenge yourself in new ways. Both of these strategies will keep the workout fresh and motivating, which is all you need to keep seeing positive results.

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