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20 Minute HIIT Workout | High Intensity Interval Training

Updated: Aug 8, 2023

A woman skipping as part of high-intensity training workout.

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If you’ve been searching for a short, sharp, sweat session that’ll get the heart pumping, this 20 minute hiit workout is for you. As Lee Driver tells us in his book HIIT: High Intensity Interval Training, HIIT is one of the most effective exercise methods for stimulating the cardiovascular system.

Mixing explosive cardio bursts and body weight exercises, this high-intensity workout delivers a complete fitness blast.

And because of its straightforward design, it can easily be customised. For example, the duration of the workout can be decreased or increased. Also, the exercises can be replaced without impacting the dynamic of the workout.

20 minute hiit workout benefits

As you’d expect, this workout will provide you with a high-intensity exercise session. If you complete the workout as per the plan, ensuring to sustain near-maximal output where advised, after 20 minutes you’ll be sweating profusely, your heart will be pounding, and you’ll be pleased with having completed an intense training session.

This 20 minute hiit workout has been designed to engage the aerobic system while promoting muscular endurance. To achieve these outcomes cardio intervals are paired with body weight exercises. This combination can yield a number of sought-after fitness benefits.

For example, if you can find a permanent slot in your routine for this 20 minute hiit workout, it’s likely that you’ll start to notice improved cardio capacity. That is, your general fitness levels will go up, and you’ll be able to sustain aerobic output for longer before fatiguing.

In addition to increased stamina, you should begin to notice enhanced muscular endurance.

As well as improving fitness performance, this 20 minute hiit workout also promotes fat loss while sharpening muscle tonality. The cardio exercise burns calories while the body weight exercises forge leaner, denser muscles.

20 minute hiit workout fitness benefits

  • Improved aerobic capacity

  • Increased muscular endurance

  • Promotes fat loss

  • Engages the cardio-respiratory system

  • Sharpened muscle definition

How to do this 20 minute hiit workout

Because you will begin the workout at near-maximal intensity, it is of paramount importance that you arm up well first. As discussed in the highly informative book, The Complete Guide to Strength Training, a 10-minute progressive warm-up improves physical performance while significantly reducing injury risk. A warm-up has been provided below.

Following the warm-up, prepare to progress through the 20 minute hiit workout. To do so set a repeat 20-second interval on your training timer.

Starting at the first exercise, skipping, maintain a high intensity for the duration of the interval. When the time elapses, you will transition to the accompanying body weight exercise which you will perform for an equal duration.

However, the intensity should be much lower through the body weight exercise intervals. This is your active recovery round. The objective of the workout is to complete all the intervals in the grid.

Related: Need a Skipping Rope?

HIIT workout key points

  • Complete the progressive 10-minute warm-up before starting the workout.

  • When you’re warmed and ready, set a 20-second repeat countdown timer.

  • Start at the first exercise, skipping, and maintain a high-intensity output for the duration of the interval.

  • The moment the time elapses, transition to the body weight exercise, which is to be performed at a low intensity.

  • After 5-minutes take a minute rest before progressing to the next skipping and body weight pairing.

Warm up

Begin with 2-minutes of mobility movements – ankle rotations, knee bends, and shallow double-footed jumps.

Concluding the first phase, start skipping. Progressively increase the intensity over 5-minutes.

For the final 3-minutes aim to complete as many of the following sets as possible: 20 skips – 10 air squats – 20 skips – 10 press-ups – repeat.

20 minute HIIT workout session plan.

20 minute hiit workout modifications

As you no doubt have noticed, the HIIT workout is organised into four five-minute segments. Each segment is separated by a minute rest. Organising the workout in this way makes it a doddle to adjust. Depending on your training time constraints, you could reduce the number of blocks or, of course, increase them.

That’s great advice, but what if I can’t skip? Not to worry! If you can’t skip you can replace skipping with a different aerobic exercise – such as running, rowing, cycling, or even jogging on the spot.

The same can be said of the body weight exercise. It would not impact the mechanics of the 20 minute hiit workout if you changed the body weight exercises. Even light resistance movements such as kettlebell swings or dumbbell snatches, for example, would make for excellent substitutes.

What if 20-second intervals are bit much for me? Again, don’t worry! You can still take part in this workout. Simply reduce the interval duration by five or 10-seconds.


Enjoyed this HIIT workout?

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20 minute HIIT workout blog concludes with the Hungry4Fitness Book of Circuits Volume 2.


About Adam Priest –

A former Royal Marines Commando, Adam Priest is a content writer, college lecturer, and health and wellbeing practitioner. He is also a fitness author and contributor to other websites. Connect with Adam via LinkedIn or

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