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How to Get Fit in 20 Minutes. 20 Minutes of Exercise is Enough.

Updated on November 23, 2014

Is 20 Minutes Enough?

20 minutes a day may or may not be enough. It depends on what you are doing and what you are capable of doing. You don't need to workout for a long time to get good results. Short workouts can be great for changing your body but only if they challenge you. I got good results doing a workout that lasted 5 minutes a day. Short workouts can be better than longer workouts.

A 20 minute workout could give you better results than an hour long workout. One common problem is that people will continue to do a 20 minute workout as an endurance workout after they stopped trying to increase their endurance. Meaning they are doing the same thing day after day and expecting different results. Often 20 minutes is not enough because the person is not giving their body a reason to change. If you are just going through the motions then at most you are just maintaining the body you already have.

Side planks.
Side planks. | Source
Mountain climbers.
Mountain climbers. | Source

Strength, Speed, Balance, Power and Endurance

If you want to improve your body then get better at something. Improve your strength, speed, balance, power, endurance or coordination. If you want to maintain your body then keep doing the things that gave you that body. You can't have the body of an athlete or a bodybuilder if you don't do the work. When you do the same workout as the day before and the day before that nothing happens. When you do better than the day before and the day before that your body changes.

Maybe you just want to lose fat. People that are trying to lose weight often don't want more muscle. They just want less fat. So they don't try to improve and they don't get the results they want. When you start a workout routine to improve your body you should plan on building muscle even if you just want to be leaner. Build muscle and lose fat.

Medicine ball push ups.
Medicine ball push ups. | Source
Door assisted handstand push ups.
Door assisted handstand push ups. | Source

Building Muscle

Short intense workouts are good for increasing your strength and building muscle. You can strain your muscles and then give your muscles lots of time recover. Lifting heavy weights, sprinting or doing difficult body weight exercises puts a lot of strain on your muscles. The exercise needs to be short because you quickly wear yourself out.

If your goal is to bulk up then you may need to consume more calories and do less cardio. Exercise like a bodybuilder and eat like a bodybuilder if you want to look like one. 20 minutes is enough to increase your strength and build muscle if you challenge yourself. You can build muscle doing cardio, body weight exercises or weightlifting. Strength workouts are better for building larger muscles than endurance workouts but you are not going to accidentally become huge.

Women and a lot of men have trouble bulking up. If you just focus on improving then you will look more like an lean athlete than a bulky bodybuilder.

Losing Fat

Limiting yourself to 20 minutes can make fat loss more difficult. Start by doing exercises that burn the most calories per minute. 20 minutes is not enough time to burn enough calories even if the workout is intense. That is why you will need lots of muscle. Exercise to lose fat and to build muscle. Include some body weight or weight lifting exercises. Building muscle will help you burn more calories when you exercise and throughout the day. It is also important to keep changing your routine. Start a routine and do it for a few weeks. Then replace the old routine with a new one.

20 minutes a day is enough to slim down but only if you get really good at burning calories and you don't consume a lot of junk. Make sure you don't spend the 20 minutes burning off the empty calories from junk food and high calories drinks. To make losing weight or fat easier try to be active throughout the day.


Endurance workouts can be really long or really short. To improve my endurance I kept biking farther and farther until I could bike for 3 hours at a speed of around 20 km an hour. When doing push ups as an endurance exercise I kept trying to do one more rep until I could do 100 push ups in one workout. When doing body weight or weight lifting exercises it is generally considered to be an endurance exercise when you do more than 12 reps in a row.

For a 20 minute endurance workout try to keep going for the full 20 minutes. To keep yourself going take short breaks and switch exercises if you need to. You could switch between 2 or more exercises. The duration of each set increases while the number of sets and the amount of time you spend resting decreases as your endurance improves. So you improve your endurance without changing the duration of the workout.

You can improve your cardiovascular endurance and your muscular endurance. Sprinting, jumping rope, boxing, planks, push ups, pull ups. sit ups, dumbbell curls, bench presses and lots of other exercise can be done during a short endurance workout. You focus on increasing the duration of each exercise instead of your strength or speed.

Working Out Your Whole Body in 20 Minutes

To be fit and healthy you should exercise your whole body and do different types of exercises. A good way to workout most of your body in 20 minutes is to do circuit training. Do 5 or more exercises one after the other that focus on different muscles. When you finish a circuit do another one. Keep going until the 20 minutes is up. Circuit workouts can be very effective and they usually last 20 to 30 minutes.

If you are going to stick with one exercise then I recommend interval training. Alternate between going at a fast pace and going at a slow pace for cardio exercises. Alternate the weight between heavy and light if you are doing weight lifting. To make sure you workout most of your body do different exercises on different days. You could have upper body days, lower body days and days where the exercise works your upper and lower body.


People that are trying to get fit often sabotage themselves by eating too much junk food, drinking too many high calorie drinks or by going on a strict diet. Going on a strict diet can be worse than eating junk food. You need lots of healthy food and lots of water. For the 20 minutes to be enough you need to be able to do your best. The food you eat should provide you with energy and leave you feeling satisfied. You should not feel weak or be distracted by hunger because of your diet.

Eat as much food as your body needs and stay hydrated. Being dehydrated can make you weaker. If you have a habit of overeating then avoid boredom, stress and eating fast. Fit muscular people tend to eat more even if they are lean. They need to eat more to stay fit. It is not overeating if you need the extra food. If you are exercising more than you were or you build more muscle then your appetite will probably increase. To become leaner you may need to start eating more healthy food. If you are trying to bulk up limit the amount of junk food and fast food. It can stop you from getting a good workout and it is not good for your health.

I discovered that I need to eat more food to lose fat. To lose fat or to keep the fat off I need to exercise a lot and be muscular. I can only do that if I eat a lot. Eating less does not work for me.

Making 20 Minutes Enough

  • Compete with yourself. Always try to do better than the last time.
  • If you can't improve or no longer want to then switch exercises.
  • Don't hold back. Wear yourself out.
  • Do it as two 10 minute workouts if you can't last 20 minutes.
  • Maintain a healthy diet.
  • Don't overeat or go hungry. Snack if you need to.
  • Rest as little as possible during the workout.
  • Be willing to work hard.

Words like only, just, mere, meager and measly should not apply to your workout. Don't workout for only 20 minutes, or a measly 20 minutes. Workout for a full 20 minutes. If your 20 minute workout is enough then you should not feel like it is only 20 minutes. Lasting that long should be a challenge. You should feel like you barely made it. Finishing the workout should feel like a big accomplishment.

Short workouts usually need to be very intense to be effective. It looks and feels like hard work. If you don't like intense exercises then I recommend long relaxing workouts. Short workouts save time and are better for strength training. Long workouts tend to be easier and more enjoyable.

© 2014 Michael H


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