The Psychology Of Fitness

Mindsets, Body Types and Everything In Between

Six 20-Minute, Kick-Ass, Fat-Burning Workouts

This post is for those of you that say you “don’t have enough time” to get to the gym in order to see results.  The workouts in this article are lactic acid producing, hard-hitting, challenging and “short” workouts.  No way is this a definitive list of the workouts you can do in 20 minutes or less and they’re really geared towards those looking to lose fat or to just maintain general fitness in a “fun” way.  That is if you define “fun” in a slightly masochistic way.

A quick note – all of these workouts you should also be able to do on your own, without any “specialized” equipment…and I really need to buy a flip camcorder so I can record these so you don’t have to read them.  Let’s get started.

1 – Jump Rope and plate pushes – Execution:  Jump for 2 minutes, followed by plate pushes across the group exercise floor two times up and back, for 8 rounds.  This should take less than 20 minutes and by the end of it, you’ll be happy to leave the gym.

Equipment needed:  Jump Rope, a large towel, an empty group exercise room (or floor), a 45-lb plate.   So basically, you wrap the 45-lb plate in a towel at one end of the group exercise room.  Jump rope for 2 minutes.  At the end of two minutes, push the plate, which is wrapped in the towel, across the floor going up and back two times.  Go back to jumping rope for a total of 8 rounds.

2 – Plate drags and Dumbbell swings –Equipment needed:  An old hoodie (I work at a clothing company and old hoodies are easy to find), boxing wraps, one to three 45lb plates, a dumbbell that you can swing with good form for 20 reps and an empty group exercise room.

Set-up:  Loop the boxing wraps through the middle of the 45lb plate(s).  Put the plate(s) in the hoodie with the wraps coming out of the side with the hood.  Put in one corner of the group exercise room next to the weight.

Execution:  Swing the dumbbell for 20 reps, afterwords grab the boxing wraps and run around the group exercise two times dragging the plates behind you.  Repeat 5 times.  To make this workout a little harder, alternate between running forward with the plates and running backwards.  Trust me, backwards running sucks so much more.

3 – Stairs – Find a set of stairs and run up them.  Do this for 20 minutes.  At work, there’s a 9 story staircase that I have people go from the bottom up to the top.  To make this more challenging, carry weights.  Usually, I have women carry 5-10 pounds and men carry 20’s.  If you do this for time (as fast as you can), by the time you get to the ninth story you’re gasping for air.  If you only have one flight, definitely do it with weight.  If you’re now saying, but I don’t have any weights, get a bookbag and load it up with heavy ass books.  You can carry it on your back or in one hand and alternate hands each time.

4 – Tabata workouts –  Tabata workouts are the original 4 minute workout.  This workout originated with a stationary bike where the person pedaled as fast as they could at a “hard” resistance for 20 seconds, and pedaled slower, but with the same resistance, for 10 seconds.  They then repeated this 8 times for a total of 4 minutes.  This workout phenomenon now includes any exercise that you do as many reps as you can do in 20 seconds, followed by a 10 second rest repeated 8 times for a total of 4 minutes.

These exercises can range from a decent strength exercise, such as a front squat with about 60% of your one rep max or with conditioning exercises like squat thrusts (better known as burpees, but I hate that name).

My favorite is to combine a strength training movement with a conditioning movement.  This way, you can still go relatively heavy with the strength movement and still get in a kick-ass fat-burning workout.

For example, I would combine a single-armed clean and press with box jumps.  20 seconds of the single-armed clean and press, 10 second rest, 20 seconds of box jumps, rest 10 seconds, repeat 4 times for a total of 4 minutes.  If you do 3 different routines, this can be fun, fast and effective fat-burning workout.

Here’s a breakdown of one possible routine:
A1 – Single-Armed Clean and Press
A2 – Squat Thrusts

B1 – Chin-ups or Reverse grip Lat Pulldowns
B2 – 17-inch box Jumps (aka, a standard bench)

C1 – Dumbbell Front Squats – pick up two dumbbells, lift them up so that they’re in front of your chest with palms facing you and squat down.
C2 – Push-up into Planks – Start in a push-up position, move your arms so that you’re in a plank position, and go back up.

As you can see from the pairings, I like to switch it up between upper and lower body movements, or in the case with the first example, a total body movement combined with a total body movement.

5 – Sprinting – Warm-up with a light jog. Pick a starting point, whether it be between two light posts, a basketball court, your driveway, whatever and an end point and sprint as fast as you can.  Walk or lightly jog back to the starting point and do it again.  You can do basketball sprints, such as suicides or sprinting up and back 1, 2, 4 or 8 times.  Yeah, I definitely don’t miss “Crazy 8’s,” but it is an amazing workout.

6 – Carry heavy shit – I could tell you how to do these workouts, but this article by Dan John does it so much better.  Read The Secret of Loaded Carries.

I also tried this movement from Tony Gentilcore on a break at work last week and it was awesome (except mine was with a dumbbell).  40 pounds never felt heavier, but I need to work on my grip-strength so I see this definitely helping.

With that said, when I first thought of writing this article, I had 5 “methods” of workouts that I was thinking of writing about, like Density Training, Interval Workouts, Strength Circuits, Metabolic Training, etc but I didn’t think that would actually give you many ideas to try.  With this post, you have 5+ workouts that you can do when you don’t have much time and don’t have much equipment.  I also realized that I literally could sit down and write a hundred variations of these workouts along with at least two easier and harder variations of the workouts I presented in this post.  Therefore, if you have any questions or want to know any of the variations of the workouts presented, let me know.

Also, try the workouts.  Even if you only do one or two rounds of some of the exercises at the end of your regular workouts, if you’re trying to lose fat, these workouts will definitely help. 

Have “fun.”

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