How To (Effectively) Work Out If You Only Have 20 Minutes

We’re all busy people, and thus it’s easy to make excuses for skipping a lengthy workout. But as it turns out, it is possible to squeeze in an effective sweat session that lasts only 20 minutes. (Yes, we totally just made it harder to justify sitting on the couch for yet another episode of whatever show you’re currently streaming. Accept our interim apology, but you’ll thank us later.) We tapped three of the industry’s leading trainers—Simone De La Rue of Body by Simone, Nicole Winhoffer of NW Method and Anna Kaiser of AKT InMotion—to share quick and easy exercises that’ll have you toned by bikini season, plus their motivational tips and pump-up jams to ensure your fitness game stays strong.

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You Better Work

Keith Munyan

Simone's Workouts

Simone recommends choosing one area to focus on if you only have 20 minutes—either upper body, lower body, core or cardio. (You can then alternate which workouts you do throughout the week.)

"The upper body is one area difficult to hide on a woman—especially in the summer—so working on toning those arms is a must. Using your own body weight means there is no need for a fancy gym membership. To work your chest, back, shoulders, bicep and core, do a push-up into side plank motion: In push-up position, lower your body down to the floor, push back up, then twist the body into side plank, lower down and repeat on the other side. Build up to 3 sets of 10 reps.

On the lower body, women tend to focus on toned hips, thighs and buns. This exercise focuses on the largest muscle groups in the body, so it's a great way to kick the heart rate up: Start standing up, and using a sliding disc or towel, glide your right foot out to a side lunge so your left leg is bent, knee over ankle and your right leg is straight. Slide the leg back to standing position. This works the hamstrings, glutes and inner and outer thigh. Start with 4 sets of 10 on either side.

Toned abs are always desirable, so working the core is essential. Start in a perfect plank. Lower your knees down to the floor one at a time and then both together, engaging your core and lower abs. This will work that entire region, plus your chest and shoulders. Start with 5 sets of 10 reps.

Cardio is extremely important for heart health, assists in weight loss and boosts your metabolism. I'm a big fan of the jump rope: Set the timer on your phone and jump for 60 second intervals, taking 20 seconds to bring your heart rate down and then starting again for 60 seconds. Build up to 10 minutes."

Simone's Tips

"The most important thing is to focus on your technique and form to make sure you don't get injured—it's better to do 10 perfect reps of an exercise rather than trying to do 40 reps with bad form. Also, find a workout buddy to help motivate you and keep you accountable."

Simone's Current Playlist

"One Day" by Bakermat "What Now" by Rihanna "Can't Stop Playing" by DR KUCHO! "How Deep Is Your Love" by Calvin Harris

Nicole's Workouts

"The most effective use of your time is doing cardio and toning problem areas at the same time. Pick six of your favorite songs, complete the following four movements with 30 reps each on the right first, and then the left. Repeat until the end of your playlist, and do all these movements to the beat of the song."

Plank Twists. Plank and keep knees together and twist hips left to right. Repeat.

Plank Lunge Kick. Get in plank formation. Bring right leg to 90 degrees, keeping hips down. Move right leg around to kick the back right diagonal. Return right foot to forward lunge. Repeat.

Three-Angle Kick. Start on all fours (hands and knees). Bend right knee, then take knee to elbow (hydrant position); this is your starting point. Keep knee at 90 degrees. Kick back three times at different angles—low, medium, high—always keeping right knee lifted. Repeat.

Cross And Kick Side. Start on all fours. Bring right leg towards left, keeping right knee crossed and tucked behind the left supporting leg. Press up and lift left knee two inches off the ground. At the same time, extend the right leg to 90 degrees straight side hip level. Return to the right knee tucked behind the left knee and return the left knee to the floor.

Nicole's Tips

"You must have a positive mental attitude—your faith is only limited by your own capacity to believe. You have the power to be anyone you want to be. Make a vision board of the following photos: what you want to look like, what you want to feel like and and what you want to think like. Our minds and emotions are so powerful, sometimes we need a tool to help us visualize our life. These images will help you to stay on track, because your life is your creation."

Nicole's Current Playlist

Consideration" by Rihanna "Needed Me" by Rihanna "Realest in the City" by P Reign "Formation" by Beyoncé

Courtesy of Carbon38

Anna's Workout

"For the most effective and efficient use of your time, incorporate a combination of cardio, strength and dynamic flexibility into an interval workout. The trick is to make sure you push through as hard as you can for all 20 minutes and try to avoid taking any breaks. Download a heart-pounding playlist to help motivate you along the way."

5-Minute Warm-Up:

"Take five minutes for a dynamic warm-up to stretch and loosen all of your muscles, such as a combination of high knees, burpees, alternating lunges, jumps, etc."

15-Minute Workout:

"In order to get the best results, try to incorporate strength exercises throughout your cardio routine. Depending on how advanced you are, I would suggest either running outside or on a treadmill, jumping rope or doing mountain climbers or jumping jacks. Do these in five-minute intervals, incorporating strength exercises in between each set without a rest.


Run 5 minutes 30 seconds of push-ups Run 5 minutes 30 seconds of squats Run 5 minutes 30 seconds of abdominal twisting teasers Run 5 minutes 30 seconds of tricep push-ups

Anna's Tips

"It's important to set realistic goals so you don't feel overwhelmed or give up before you start. I always say fitness is not a destination—it's a lifestyle. Setting smaller goals and incorporating fitness into your weekly routine will keep you consistent and moving forward. You can set weekly and monthly goals so you remember why you started in the first place. Also, it's important not to dwell on the number on the scale: It is just a number. Everyone’s body changes at a different pace, and the number on the scale does not always depict whether you're making progress."

Anna's Current Playlist

"Don't Be So Hard on Yourself" by Jesse Glyne "Boyz-N-the-Hood" by Eazy-E "Me, Myself & I" by G-Eazy "Hood Go Crazy" by Tech N9ne