You may think you’d be better off with an hour-long workout—or at least 45 minutes. But here’s the reality: being tight on time can actually make you more efficient in the gym.
“A 20-minute workout is perfect because with no time for water breaks, chit chat, or checking your phone you have to stay focused and efficient,” says Joe Drake, C.P.T. (NSCA) & co-owner of Gravity + Oxygen Fitness in Boca Raton, Florida. That said, if you’re only exercising for 20 minutes, you need to bring the intensity and include both cardio and strength components. “To have an impact on weight loss in just 20 minutes, you have got to do more than just burn calories, you’ve got to impact muscle,” confirms Drake.
This workout does just that. It’s a spin-off inspired by Escalating Density Training (EDT) made popular by strength coaches Charles Staley and Robert Dos Remedios. “EDT-style training is effective because it involves a lot of muscle mass in a very short period of time with little to no rest involved—This translates into a ton of volume done in a very concentrated timeframe, resulting in a boost in fat metabolism and lean muscle gain,” explains Drake.
But, this particular workout takes it up a notch with the additional challenge of 20 seconds sprints to increase the metabolic demand and maintain incomplete muscle recovery between sets of exercises. “This killer 20-minute full body set-up allows for endless variety when strapped for time and still looking to get a great workout,” says Drake.
First, choose an exercise from the list below for each of the movement categories. Next, choose a weight for these exercises that you could barely complete 10 good reps of and you will perform 8 repetitions every time. Complete both exercises followed by a 20 second “sprint*” for as many rounds as possible in the 10 minute time frame. Then rest 1-2 minutes and complete your second 10 minute challenge. Keep track of your rounds and aim to beat your scores each time you complete the workout.
*Sprint variations may include any traditional methods such as bike or treadmill but can be subbed out for anything that allows you to go all out for 20 seconds; such as agility ladder, mountain climbers, battle ropes, kettle bell swings, etc.
10 Minute AMRAP Challenge #1
A) Upper Body Pull x8 reps
B) Lower Body Push x8 reps
C) Sprint Variation x20 seconds
After 10 minutes, rest for 2 minutes and complete Challenge #2
10 Minute AMRAP Challenge #2
D) Upper Body Push x8 reps
E) Lower Body Pull x8 reps
F) Sprint Variation x20 seconds
Note: The exercises below are not a complete list, but give you examples of the kinds of movements that would fit within each movement category. This set-up ensures you will hit every muscle in your body each workout with compound movements proven to help lose fat and build muscle.
Upper Body Pull (back/biceps)
Cable High Row
Upper Body Push (chest/shoulder/triceps)
Dive Bomber Pushup
Lower Body Push (quads/glutes)
Lower Body Pull (hamstrings/glutes)
Barbell Hip Thrust
Check out these tips from Drake before programming your workout:
- Beware your grip. When pairing together exercises like walking lunges and pullups opt to load the lunges with a bar on your back to save your grip.
- Choose big moves. If selecting exercises other than the ones on the previous slide, make sure they are exercises that use multiple muscles at the same time. Think foundational movements that are the cornerstones of strength training.
- Don’t get too sexy. Think about exercises and equipment that allow for easy transition. You want to spend less time fumbling with equipment and more time working hard.