20 Minute Burners: Maximum Results in Little Time

20 Minute Burners: Maximum Results in Little Time
Being short on time doesn’t mean you can’t have an intense workout.

It’s easy to get caught up in your busy day and neglect your health. Bad eating, skipped workouts and little sleep can have a cumulative effect on not only your body but your brain as well. But how do you fit in an effective workout with little to no time to do it?

Can you spare 20 minutes? Can you manage to carve-out just a small amount of time a few days per week to help make your health (and life) a little better, happier and less stressful?

Enter 20-minute burners. No, this isn’t a promotion of some gimmicky, hard-to-believe program promising overnight results. Think of this as your starting line, the beginning of something you can build on, a foundation. Use these programs to get going toward your fitness goals.

What can a little exercise do for you? Just a few benefits include spurring your metabolism to burn more fat even at rest, build a little muscle for functionality and reshaping your physique and help reduce stress levels for better sleep and mental clarity.

Let’s look at a few things that should be on your checklist when building a 20-minute routine. As this isn’t an exhaustive list, it will give you an idea about what should go into a program and help you build that foundation to get started.

Efficiency

Your program must utilize every minute efficiently. No checking your phone or chatting it up with a buddy, you have 20 minutes – use it wisely. Be sure to include supersets, tri-sets, giant sets (circuits) and strategically placed exercises so while you are working some, others are resting.

Strategy

Your program must be carefully constructed to be highly effective and avoid redundancy and possible burnout. Pairing antagonistic (opposite) body parts, upper and lower combinations and intermittent abdominal work will enable you to pack in a lot in little time.

Variety

Training only your beach muscles will do little for functionality and overall health. In addition to chest and arms, legs, back and midsection are also important components of building solid overall strength and reshaping your physique. Be sure to perform your workouts in a variety of angles, options and planes of motion.

Challenge

20 minutes doesn’t translate into easy – quite the opposite. You have a limited amount of time to get in an intense workout that will have enough impact to elicit change. A tall order indeed. Make sure it is designed to be challenging but not impossible.

Interest

In the military, morale is a big deal. So big that many outcomes rely heavily on this vital aspect. You, for the most part, are no different. Training programs should keep your interest and evolve into actually being fun. The more motivated you are the better your results.

The what, the when and the how

Prior to each session you will perform some sort of dynamic stretch/warm-up. This doesn’t include your typical slow and steady treadmill walk, they are active movements to raise body temperature, prime your arms and legs full of blood and activate your nervous system for the work to come.

An example may look something like this:

1 or 2 rounds of

  • Push-ups – 10-15 reps
  • Prisoner squats – 10-15 reps
  • Inverted row – 10 reps
  • Reverse lunges – 10 reps each leg
  • Lying leg lifts – 10 reps
  • Burpees or jumping jacks – 10 reps

Each workout below can be performed 2, 3 or even 4 or 5 times per week. You will notice that they are organized in descending order from a workout in a typical gym, one with limited equipment and another with no equipment. You can stick with one type for all your workouts or mix and match – it’s up to you.

20-Minute Gym Burner

Warm-up sets

Work sets

Rest

Tri-set: Flat or incline bench barbell press, inverted row or wide-grip pull-up and floor crunch

1 x 12

3 x 8-12

60 seconds after all tri-sets are done

Tri-set: Dumbbell side lateral raise, barbell curl and lying triceps extension

3 x 8-12

60 seconds after all tri-sets are done

Tri-set: Leg press, calf raise on leg press and hanging leg raise

1 x 12

3 x 8-12

20-Minute Dumbbell Burner

Warm-up sets

Work sets

Rest (in seconds)

Superset: Incline bench dumbbell press and bent-over dumbbell row

1 x 12

3 x 10-12

60 seconds after all supersets are done

Tri-set: Dumbbell shoulder press, dumbbell curl and overhead dumbbell triceps extension

3 x 10-12

60 seconds after all tri-sets are done

Superset: Dumbbell lunge and dumbbell Romanian deadlift

1 x 12

3 x 10-12

60 seconds after all supersets are done

Superset: Bicycle crunch and Plank

3 x 10, 20 seconds

20-Minute Bodyweight Burner

Warm-up sets

Work sets

Rest (in seconds)

Superset: Feet-elevated or plyo push-up and inverted row or neutral-grip pull-up

1 x 12

3 x As many as possible

60 seconds after all supersets are done

Tri-set: Dips or close-grip push-up, incline sit-up and lying leg raise

3 x 10-15

60 seconds after all tri-sets are done

Tri-set: Box jump or jump squat, reverse lunge and single-leg calf raise

1 x 12

3 x 10-15

 

Brad is the founder of BradBorland.com. He is a consultant, writer, fitness specialist, husband and father. He earned his Master's degree in Kinesiology, is a member of the Air National Guard and is a cancer survivor.

  • SalPic

    Very nice! What’s your opinion on the “Scientific 7-minute workout” that was all the rage on Lifehacker and similar blogs not long ago (here it is! http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/05/09/the-scientific-7-minute-workout/)? I just started and am surprised at how much I feel like I got a workout in only 7 minutes, but am not 100% convinced that it’s actually doing anything.

    • bradborland

      Hello,
      I haven’t seen that honestly but I believe in good ole fashioned hard work and dedication. I’ll have to check it out though – tough to believe 7 minutes is all you need.

      • SalPic

        Thanks for the reply. It seems to be similar to your Bodyweight Burner…or about one-third of it anyway. Maybe doing 2-3 circuits of the the 7 Minute routine would be more effective.

  • Jd

    I thought this said 20 minute burgers :(