20 Minute Workouts

Two 20 Minute Full Body Workouts
By Neghar FonooniFebruary 29, 2016

20 Minute Workout

The 20 minute workout will give you an extremely effective full body workout in very little time. The 20 minute full body workout helps strengthen and develop the muscles in your entire body, and is a phenomenal way to improve your overall conditioning.

Equipment needed:

The 20 minute workout requires very little equipment. Some of the exercises can be done with just bodyweight, and others with dumbbells or a kettlebell.

Ability level:


In some instances, the 20 minute workout might be too advanced for women who are just beginning to strength train. Beginners could replace jump squats with regular bodyweight squats, jumping jacks, or mountain climbers. Band pull-throughs or bodyweight hip hinges could replace single leg deadlifts. If beginners struggle to perform regular push-ups, they could elevate their hands on a box or bench and perform modified push-ups. Avoid performing push-ups from the knees. Beginner lifters might perform 3 rounds of 8 reps reps per exercise. The plank touches could be done for 30 seconds, and the kettlebell swings for 10-15 reps.


The 20 minute strength workout is a great option for women of an intermediate fitness level. Intermediate lifters might perform 3-5 rounds of 8-12 reps reps per exercise. The plank touches could be done for 45 seconds, and the kettlebell swings for 15-20 reps.


Women who are comfortable with the 20 minute workout could perform the high end of the rep range, and could rest for less time between exercises and rounds. They could also use more resistance.

Benefits of the 20 Minute Workout:

There are many benefits of the 20 minute workout for women. How a woman chooses to use the 20 minute workout is highly dependent on her overall technical ability and experience, how much weight is being used, the set/rep scheme used, and what the rest periods are. In general, the 20 minute workout can be used to do any or all of the following:

  • increasing lower body strength, primarily in the quads, glutes, and hamstrings
  • increasing upper body strength, primarily in the shoulders, and also the back, chest, biceps, and triceps
  • increasing core strength
  • building muscle
  • fat loss (if your diet and exercise routines are conducive to fat loss)
  • increasing conditioning
  • improving sports specific performance
  • maximizing time as you will accomplish a lot in very little time

How to perform the 20 Minute Workout:

Here are 2 separate workouts. Do these workouts 3 days per week. One week, do workout #1 twice and workout #2 once, and the following week do workout #2 twice and workout #1 once. For a detailed description of each exercise, click on the link beside the exercise.

Workout #1

Lifters should complete 3-5 rounds of each exercise. Rest as little as you can between exercises and rounds, and aim to complete the workout in 15-20 minutes,

1. Squat: 8-12 reps
2. Plank hand touches: (30-45 seconds)
3. Reverse lunge: 8-12 reps
4. Bent-over row: 8-12 reps
5. Squat jumps: 8-12 reps

Workout #2

Lifters should complete 3-5 rounds of each exercise. Rest as little as you can between exercises and rounds, and aim to complete the workout in 15-20 minutes.

1. Single leg deadlift: 8-12 reps
2. Push-ups: 8-12 reps
3. Skater squat: 8-12 reps/leg
4. Overhead press: 8-12 reps
5. Kettlebell swings: 15-20 reps

Video Transcription: 

Hi ladies, Neghar here from Girls Gone Strong and today I want to talk to you about how you can get in some efficient workouts when you’re really short on time. Probably the most common excuse I hear from people in regard to why they don’t exercise is that they don’t have time. As a single parent, running multiple businesses and traveling constantly I totally understand what it's like to be busy, don’t get me wrong. But, one thing that I never sacrifice, that I always make time for, is exercise. Sometime I get to the gym, sometimes I don’t and I end up working out at home.  But one way or another I make sure that I do something for my body every single day.  The reason why that’s so important is because even though we all have family obligations and work obligations, when you can take care of you, you are your happiest self. When you’re happy, the people around you are more likely to be happy. Your work will be more productive, your time with your family will be more well spent. So make sure you try to carve out about 20 minutes a day just to make some exercise time for you. Whether it means watching 20 minutes less of TV a day or spending 20 minutes less on the computer. Whatever it is, carve out just 20 minutes and do one of these workouts I’m going to show you today.

I’m going to show you two workouts, and they’re not necessarily going to be the workouts that are going to skyrocket your strength levels. Maybe, maybe not, it really all depends on where you’re starting in your exercise journey. If you’re brand new to exercise then yes, absolutely. However, no matter where you are these workouts are definitely going to encourage fat loss. So we're going to do an A workout and a B workout and what I want you to do is alternate these workouts. For the first week you might do A, B, A. The second week you might do B, A, B. And preferably you’re going to be doing these workouts about three times a week. All of the workouts are just five exercises that you can do with very minimal equipment. I’m going to show you with a kettlebell because that’s what I happen to have at home but you can do these exercises with dumbbells as well.

So the first workout is going to be five exercises and the first exercise we’re going to do is a squat. If you’ve never done a squat before, please feel free to just do it with your body weight. If you’re pretty solid in that regard, then absolutely use some weight. So I’m going to use this kettlebell and I’m going to hold it in what’s called goblet style. You can do this with a dumbbell too, or you can but two dumbbells on your shoulders. And all I’m going to do is squat down and back up. Make sure I go all the way down and stand all the way up. Depending on how heavy my weight is and how advanced a lifter I am I’m going to do anywhere from about 8-12 repetitions of that exercise.

The next exercise I’m going to do is going to be down on the ground in this thing called plank hand touches and I’m going to start in the plank position. What I’m going to do is move my hands back and forth touching the other hand but I’m going to hold my plank position, so I’m not going to let my butt go up and down or lose my form. So just like this, side to side, nice and tight, using my core. And you can do that exercise from 30-45 seconds or whatever set period of time you’ve decided.

The next exercise is going to be a reverse lunge and just like we did with the squat you can hold a weight here, you can hold two weights here, or you can do it with your body weight. So all we’re going to do is step back and step forward, alternating each time.  And here it is from the side so you can see that I keep my body nice and tall, really using my glutes and my legs. I’m really engaging my core so I stay really stable throughout.

The next exercise is going to be a bent over row. So I’m going to take that weight that I was using for my squats and I’m going to sit back into my hips - and as you can see I’m moving from my hips not from my back. Knees soft, shoulder pulled back, I’m going to squeeze my shoulder blade back pretending like I’m holding onto something under my armpit so I really use the muscles in my back instead of using the muscles here in my shoulder. And again, 8-12 reps on each side depending on how advanced you are and how heavy your weight is. You can do that with one kettlebell or dumbbell, two at the same time, or you can even alternate.

The last exercise we’re going to do is a squat jump. If this is too advanced for you, no worries. Maybe just jump rope or jumping jacks or even running in place. But all we’re going to do is squat down and jump up. We’re going to squat all the way down and jump all the way up. And as you can see from the side: I’m fully extending my hips, I’m really using my glutes and my trunk in that exercise. From the front I want you to notice my knees aren’t caving in when I jump. So nice and stable and then that’s workout A. You can do five rounds of that and as you can see I’m already a little out of breath and I didn’t even do all the reps or all the sets.  So I recommend doing about 3-5 rounds of that and taking about 20 minutes to get the whole body workout.

The next workout, workout B, again - five different exercises, slightly different focus. The first exercise we're going to do is called a single leg deadlift. You can start this with your bodyweight and if you’ve grown proficient you can add weights in your hands. What we’re going to do is stand on one leg and sit back into the hip, making sure that we're using the glute and the hamstring (as opposed to using the back). So, you want to make sure your back is nice and flat and that your knee bends as you go back to really allow you to put the load in your glute and hamstring. You can put your hands here for balance, you can put them on your hips, on your low back, or you can use weight.  And again, about 8-12 per side depending on how advanced you are and how heavy your weights are.

The next exercise we’re going to do is a push up. If you’re not at the place yet where you’re doing pushups on the ground, no problem. I highly recommend using a bench or a sturdy table to do some incline pushups, as opposed to coming down onto your knees. But if those aren’t available, absolutely come down onto your knees. Wherever you are, I want you to make sure your hands are right underneath your shoulders and that you focus on having on having a really nice, tight body. So from your ear to your ankle should be a nice straight line. Wherever you end up doing your pushups I just want you to do as many as you can.  I’m going to do them on the floor so you can see - and  I’m going to move that weight so I don’t bonk my head -  and all I’m going to do is lower my entire body and lift my entire body, all together. So we don’t want any butt raises or sags or anything like that, everything goes down together, everything comes up together.

The next exercise is a little bit more complicated. This one's called a skater squat but I chose it because it’s a great bodyweight exercise that you can get a lot of benefit from that you don’t need any equipment for. So what we’re going to do here is just like the single weight deadlift, we’re going to stand on one leg.  Except this time we’re going to reach our arms out in front and the other leg is going to go back. You’ll notice I’m going a lot deeper on this exercise than I did on the single leg deadlift, but, you’re only going to go back as far as you can. So let’s say you can only go there, that’s totally okay, that’s where you’re going to go and then your goal, instead of adding weight, should be to increase your range of motion so that your back knee gets closer to the ground. Make sure you have those arms out in front because that counter balance is really important.

The next exercise we're going to do is an overhead press. So again, you're going to take whatever weight you're using whether it’s a kettlebell, a dumbbell or two dumbbells and you're going to stand up nice and tall and press it overhead, making sure that you keep space between your ear and your shoulder and you straighten out your elbow. If that’s too heavy, no problem! Go ahead and turn it into a push press. All that entails is a little dip of the legs so it becomes more of a power exercise because you’re really using your entire body to get that weight overhead. Again, you can do that with one weight, two weights at the same time, or even alternating weights.

The last exercise we're going to do is a kettlebell swing. If you don’t have a kettlebell available you can absolutely do this with dumbbells, not as effective but definitely doable. If neither of those are appropriate for you, you can go back to the squat jump, jumping jacks, jump rope, or even just running place. Anything that’s giving you metabolic and getting your heart rate up.  But just to show you what a good kettlebell swing looks like, it’s going to be similar to the position that we took when we were doing the bent over row and the single leg deadlift. So nice flat back, good hinge of the hips, and lots of power in the hips to move the weight. As you can see, my whole body is straight at the top and my back is flat at the bottom and my arms are nice and relaxed. They’re not lifting up the kettlebell, my hips are moving the kettlebell. Alright, so that’s the kettlebell swing. Again, anywhere from 15-20 repetitions on that exercise depending on how advanced you are.

So that’s workout B, 3-5 rounds, it’ll take you 15-20 minutes. If you’re first starting out, take longer breaks if necessary. As you become more accustomed to it and your fitness level increases maybe take less rest period and make it more metabolic. Those are two workouts you can do if you’re limited on time, 15-20 minutes maximum. So the excuse that you don’t have time just doesn’t fly anymore. That’s it for today guys, see you next time!



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About the author:  Neghar Fonooni

Girls Gone Strong co-founder Neghar Fonooni is a fitness and lifestyle coach, writer, entrepreneur, veteran, wife, and mom. Neghar’s mission is to help women all over the world live fit, happy, empowered lives without stress and shame. Learn more about Neghar on her website, and connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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