This all-purpose, whole-body 20 Minute Workout will help you burn fat, stay trim and keep in shape. An amalgamation of multiple components of fitness, this workout will test you on multiple dimensions: cardio, strength and muscular endurance.
Some puritanical trainers argue against mixing multiple components of fitness, maintaining that you can’t maximise your performance when transitioning from a cardio exercise to a strength exercise. Perhaps there’s a sprinkle of truth in this but it ultimately depends on your fitness aims.
If you’re looking to develop whole-body functional physicality then one of the best ways to do that is by blending elements of cardio, strength and muscular endurance into one CrossFit-style training session.
This approach not only saves loads of time, for the simple fact that your not compartmentalising the body and training each part separately (legs on a Monday, back and bies on Wednesday … pointless), but it’s also more reflective of how we use our bodies in daily life: rare is the day when you’re required to execute a perfect bicep curl, triceps extension or bench press.
By bundling multiple components of fitness and functional exercises into a single workout it forces us to apply our physical in dynamic ways which is more representative of reality.
This 20 Minute Workout has been designed to target your muscular endurance and cardiovascular system. In addition, a couple of cheeky strength movements have been thrown into the mix to shake things up a bit. Remember: when performing strength exercises it’s especially important to double down on your technique and tighten that form.
How it works
Yes, this session requires kit and bit of time spent setting it up, but I promise the payoff is well worth it. Once you’re organised and ready to go, set a 2-minute countdown timer and attempt to complete as many repetitions/metres as you can on each of the proceeding 10 exercises.
The moment the 2-minute timer elapses make a note your achievement and immediately advance to the following exercise. Resist the temptation to take a rest. Follow on in this fashion until you have a score for all 10 of the exercises. (Next to each exercise I have put my scores down to give you something to aim for.)
Dumbbells (two sets: one for the Farmers’ walk and one for the vertical lift)
Olympic bar and plates
1-metre high plyometrics box
10-minutes of cardio and calisthenics
20 Minute Workout
1: 2-minutes kettlebell swings (28kg = 78reps)
The kettlebell swing is a perfect whole-body exercise to kick this session into touch. Using the muscles of the pelvic griddle and core propel the bell level with your shoulders. Try as best you can to maintain a continuous rhythm for the entirety of the 2-minutes.
2: 2-minute ergo row (605-metres = 1:39/500 average)
Prior to disembarking fix your mind on a specific pace average and try to maintain it until the final 20-second sprint.
3: 2-minutes press-ups (76reps)
You do not need to go lower than 90° at the elbow. Adopt a slightly wider than normal hand position and, in sets of 5s or 10s, see how many sets you can complete in the before the buzzer sounds.
4: 2-minutes Farmers’ walk (200-metres)
Of course, before you started the session, you will have marked out and measured a runway. I placed two cones 20-metres apart and attempted to make as many crossings as possible. By doing this it gives you a focus and makes calculating overall metres much easier.
5: 2-minutes double unders (122)
If you are not a competent skipper and you can’t double under to save your life, simply perform single skips. However, remember that two single skips only constitutes as one repetition.
6: 2-minutes vertical lifts (18kg dumbbells = 20reps)
Holding a pair of dumbbells by your sides you are to execute a biceps curl then transition straight into a shoulder press. A little tip: when you curl the dumbbells up to the shoulders, take a dip at the knee and use your quadriceps to assist the second part of the exercise.
7: 2-minutes medicine ball slams (8kg MB = 56reps)
This is such a brutish caveman exercise but it’s brilliant for developing explosive power and muscular endurance. Ensuring to take a deep squat grasp the medicine ball and, hoisting it high above your head, smash it into the floor with the ferocity of Thor bringing down his hammer.
8: 2-minutes dead lifts (75kg = 35reps)
The second strength exercise of this session (the Farmers' walk being the first) make sure that you take your time and apply near perfect form: focus on quality over quantity. Adopting a slightly wider stance, a little over shoulder width, grasp the bar. Before performing a single rep ensure that your posture is prepared for the lift: back straight, core tight, looking forward. Set your sights on a specific rep count – I stuck to 5s – then, after each set, take a quick breather. Repeat.
9: 2-minutes box jumps (1-metre high box – 53reps)
A plyometrics exercise par excellence, box jumps are one of the best exercises for developing explosive, dynamic strength in the legs. Also, they will hone timing, coordination, stamina and mental discipline. Prior to performing the box jumps just make sure that there are no dangerous objects nearby (apologise for the patronising egg suck, but you can never be too careful) and, if possible, place a cushioned mat by the box – so as to soften the impact.
10: 2-minute run on treadmill at 10% incline (430-metres – 15kph average)
Before altering the speed first ensure that you have set the incline to 10%. While the gradient is configuring, buckle-up, blast the speed and go supernova. This is the final exercise remember. So you should use up any remaining juice left in the tank. And if you’re all out, run on fumes baby!
5-minutes of wallowing in a pool of sweat followed by a gentle walk on the treadmill.
Total distance travelled = ........ (1235m)
Total reps = ........ (440 (±10))
(Let me know what time you achieved: www.hungry4fitness.co.uk)
Enjoyed this circuit? Has it left you hungry for more? Click on the image below and get your copy of the Hungry4Fitness Book of Circuits Vol. 1.
Circuit training is one of the best forms of physical exercise for maintaining and increasing overall-fitness. A well designed circuit will provide a great cardiovascular workout, strengthening the heart and lungs in the process, whilst also improving muscle endurance and developing functional strength. This unique combination, of fat burning and muscle building, which singular exercises, such as running, cycling, swimming or weights cannot give, will help to sculpt a lean defined physique.
(As we are very interested in user experience here at Hungry4Fitness, we would be very grateful if you could take a few seconds out of your day to leave a comment. Thanks in advance!)
Adam Priest, former Royal Marines Commando, is a personal trainer, lecturer, boxing and Thai boxing enthusiast.