When you run out of time, your workouts need to reach a new intensity. Curious about the most efficient way to exercise when you have less than 30 minutes to break a sweat? The answer should be obvious: high intensity interval training. We were primed with five 20-minute HIIT workouts that burn fat and build muscle.
Before we begin, it’s important to realize when you’re pressed for time and to reevaluate your rest intervals. Think about your typical hour-long workout and determine how much time you actually spend lifting. You will find that in most cases it will take no more than 20 minutes. Pretty crazy, isn’t it?
The key is to capitalize on your work-to-rest ratio by turning up the volume whenever possible. If you can spend the most 20 minutes exercising and not resting, you could be ahead of the curve. This is how these 20-minute HIIT workouts usually work, whether with weights or cardio equipment.
These 20-minute HIIT workouts keep your fitness (and ego) in check
Training 1: German volume training
German volume training is a proven and genuine training method for building muscle and losing fat, and it’s no joke. Most useful with compound movements is a real ego check, which can be completed in around 20 minutes.
Directions: Take any major lift (the squats, overhead press, and bench press are the most common) and pick 60 percent of your typical max 10 reps. Read this twice. You are looking for a percentage of your 10RM here, not your 1RM. Then do 10 sets of 10 reps with this weight, staying true to good technique, pace, and quality. Let rest only 1 minute between sets. Make sure you stick to it.
Pro tip: Based on the fatigue factor, it is wise to prepare in the same way as for heavy elevators. If you’re used to crouching or darting with an exercise belt on, use it here. Although the weight is lower, the overall demand is higher and you will likely be tired of exercising for a good portion of this workout. Protect yourself.
Training 2: Hill sprints and bodyweight burnout
Switching between sprints and body weight is a great and safe way to really test your cardiovascular fitness in a short amount of time for the greatest return on investment. Go outside and find a 40 meter hill on a decent incline. You can rest for as long as possible between sets, but know that you need to finish all 8 sets in 20 minutes.
Sentences 1-4: 40-meter mountain sprint + 20 push-ups
Sentences 5-8: 40-meter mountain sprint + 5 hand strikes (see video demonstration here)
Pro tip: Leave something in the tank while sprinting. Walk fast – very fast – but know you can get to another gear that you keep in reserve. This is the best way to stay safe and keep your efforts going throughout your workout. You repeat this for 8 rounds.
Training 3: Kettlebell Chaos
Directions: You will need three kettlebells for this workout. A pair of the same weight and a single bell that is a little heavier.
Kettlebell Complex – 5 × 6 repetitions: With your lighter pair of kettlebells, do a swing squat, full swing, and snap. (Watch the video demonstration here.)
One arm kettlebell press – 3 × 10 repetitions per side: Keep your heavy kettlebell butt high (bell to ceiling), keep your wrist perfectly straight, then push your arm up and straighten your elbow. Carefully lower your back to start. (Watch the video demonstration here.)
Turkish Getup – 3 minutes AMRAP: Stand up for 3 minutes continuously with your light kettlebell, switching hands with each repetition. Here’s how it works: Lie open with the kettlebell in your left hand, arm outstretched, eyes on the bell, left knee bent with the foot planted. Extend your right arm and leg to your side at a 45-degree angle. Roll vigorously onto your right hip and forearm with your left arm still locked into place. Throw your right leg into the floor with your right palm and your left arm still straight over you and place your right knee on the floor. With your left arm straight and your eyes on the bell, push through your left foot to lift your hips up and get on top of your right hand. Lift your right hand off the floor to kneel while maintaining the position of your left arm with your biceps close to your ear. Look straight ahead and stand up, squeezing your glutes and pulling your shoulder blades down and back. Reverse movement to return to the start.
Workout 4: Prowler and Carry
This requires a lawn (or outdoor space) gym – a prowler and heavy dumbbells.
Directions: Plan a distance of 40 meters and perform a prowler push with the equivalent of your body weight for the entire distance. If you weigh 200 pounds, you’re pushing a 200 pound sled. It is best to walk 20 meters to one end and then back 20 meters. Use a fast pace. When you’re done with your prowler push, do a pawn carry right away – that’s a brisk walk with the heaviest dumbbells to hold by your sides and run properly. Repeat this in 20 minutes for as many rounds as possible.
Training 5: pushing / pulling the ladder
You can still get a great upper body workout if you just have body weight and a pull-up / dip station.
Directions: You perform a superset of push-ups to pull-ups in the reverse ladder style. Start with 10 pushups and 1 pull-up. Set by set, you decrease the number of push-ups and increase the number of pull-ups. Try doing two rounds of these ladder in this format:
Set 1: 10 push-ups, 1 pull-up Set 2: 9 push-ups, 2 pull-ups Set 3: 8 push-ups, 3 pull-ups Set 4: 7 push-ups, 4 pull-ups Set 5: 6 push-ups, 5 pull-ups Set 6: 5 push-ups, 6 pull-ups, Set 7 : 4 push-ups, 7 pull-ups, set 8: 3 push-ups, 8 pull-ups, set 9: 2 push-ups, 9 pull-ups, set 10: 1 push-ups, 10 pull-ups
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