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These 20 minute workouts are all you need to get fit

  A man in a red shirt with a fitness watch on, doing pushups on a park bench at sunset.

All you need for a good workout is 20 minutes and some free space – no equipment needed. [19659003] Getty Images

Point blank: You're busy and it's hard to get to the gym sometimes – OK, many times. I've been there, even as a personal trainer and someone who actually likes to train. Exercising can often seem like an extra bullet on the never-ending to-do list, and nagging at you as more of a job than anything.

There are many ways you can make exercise more attainable, such as making fun or calling a responsible friend, but when the time comes, the best thing you can do is work out less.

Contrary to what one thinks, it is not necessary to spend hours upon hours in the gym or on the road to see fitness gains. To reap the many health benefits of exercise, you just need to raise your heart rate a bit and focus on strengthening the big muscles – and you can do all this in 20 minutes or less.

Read more: This is the simplest way to track your workouts

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The benefits of short workouts

Do you remember the high-intensity interval training that started in the mid-2010s? Trainers and trainers everywhere began to evangelize the benefits of short, intense, interval-based workouts, and it turns out that all the sermons are based on solid science: HIIT has proven to be more effective than aerobic exercise (like jogging) over and over again. HIIT can also be more effective than weight training alone, at least out of time.

Even working out "snacks" – activity deficits as short as 20 seconds – can seriously improve your fitness when you finish a few times each day.

This is largely because HIIT challenges both your cardiorespiratory and musculoskeletal conditions, providing improvements in your heart, lungs, muscles, nervous system and pretty much everything else.

Of course, the ideal is a balanced exercise program that combines constant aerobic exercise, interval training and resistance training over a week, but this article is not for people who have time to do all this.

Read more: 3 ways to find free group training courses

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Orangetheory Fitness

How to get the most out of short workouts

When it comes to short workouts, you want to focus on intensity above all else (besides good form, of course).

The following elements enable effective short workouts:

  • Composite movements that use more than one muscle group, such as pushups and squats
  • Explosive movements that require force, such as tuck jump and long jump (also known) as plyometric movements)
  • Whole body movements that tax your cardiovascular system, such as burpees and rock climbers

4 workouts you can do in 20 minutes or less

Now that you know all about the benefits of short, intense workouts , it's time to turn that knowledge into sweaty action – below are five workouts you can do in less time than it takes to eat lunch. For simplicity's sake, I designed all these workouts that are just bodyweight sessions you can do anywhere.

Oh, and before you start: Don't skimp on your heating and make sure you pump up the songs for a better burn.

Exercise 1: Lower body

Fill in the following for time (as quickly as possible):

  • 50 airbags
  • 20 jump buttons
  • 50 alternating lungs
  • 20 alternating jumps [19659035] 50 Cossack greetings [19659032] 20 jump jumps

Give yourself a time slot to make it more challenging.

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A key to a good workout, intense or not, is good form. You reduce the risk of injury and improve the efficiency of your workout.

Exercise 2: Full-body cardio

In 20 minutes, perform as many rounds as possible of the following:

  • 50 high knees
  • 50 Russian turns
  • 50 jump jump
  • 50 rock climbers

Select your own rest intervals between sets and rounds.

Exercise 3: Upper body and core

Fill in the following sequence once (12 minutes total):

For four minutes, complete as many rounds as possible by:

  • 10 push-ups (modify if needed)
  • 10 shaft cranes

For four minutes, complete as many rounds as possible by:

  • 5 burpees
  • 5 v-ups (or sit-ups)
  • 5 Supermans

For four minutes, complete as many rounds as possible by:

  • 10 downward dog push-ups
  • 30-second plank
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There's a lot of great fitness equipment out there, like this smart mirror, but you can get in shape with just your body and some efficient programming.


Exercise 4: The lower body

Complete each minute movement in 16 minutes (4 rounds):

  • Minute 1: 40-second wall sit (squat hold if you do not have a wall) [19659035] Minute 2: 40 seconds of alternating high jumps with one leg
  • Minute 3: 40-second glute bridge
  • Minute 4: 40 seconds of alteration lunges

Remaining remaining 20 seconds of each minute.

Now that you have worked up a sweat, you can learn to recover from your workout and calm muscle sores after work with compression boots foam rollers massage guns and stretching .

The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified healthcare provider if you have questions about a medical condition or health objective.

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