The Best Twenty-Minute Workouts

A Marine low crawls during PT.
U.S. Marine GySgt. Juan Flores conducts low crawls during a squadron physical training event at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, July 26, 2019. (Marine Corps/Lauren Brune)

Do you want to jump start your New Year with some great fitness ideas that you can incorporate into your fitness routine? If you are like many Americans, getting the time to exercise is challenging. But, this article is proof that you can fit fitness into your schedule on just about any "busy" day in your life.

The other day, I was emailed the following question: I only have about 20-30 minutes a day to exercise. What can I do in that amount of time? Not wanting to limit the answer to - just a few pushups and situps - I set out to prove how much you could do in such a little amount of time. My goal is to prove that you do not need several hours to maintain a fitness program - just minutes a day. Though the transition time may add to the total time invested in your workout, here is a list of 20-30 minute workouts you can do in your home, office, lunch time, or local gym:

The superset is a great way to workout if you have limited time. Each cycle should take you two minutes. If you can do ten cycles of this you will total 300 pushups and 400 crunches. Not bad for 20 minutes! No resting in between sets! You basically rest by doing crunches. The two supersets you see below are great to alternate every other day.

Pushup/Crunch Superset:

Repeat 10 cycles of:

  • 10 regular pushups
  • 10 crunches
  • 10 wide pushups
  • 10 crunches
  • 10 tricep pushups
  • 10/10 Left/Right crunches

Leg / ab Superset:

Repeat 5 cycles of:

  • 20 squats
  • 20 crunches
  • 10 lunges per leg
  • 10 crunches
  • 20 calf raises
  • 20 crunches

Running or Walking!

How much running or walking can you do in 20-30 minutes? Some people can run 3-6 miles or walk 2-3 miles in that time period. Try this one if you want to run.


4 Mile Track Work:

  • Jog 1 mile in 7:00-8:00
  • Three sets of 1/4-mile sprints in 90-100 seconds
  • Jog or walk - 1/4 mile

Six sets of:

  • Sprint-1/8 mile
  • Jog - 1/8 mile

Or you can mix the two types of exercise together and do what I call a Spartan Run.

Spartan Run:

  • Run 1 mile
  • 100 pushups in as few sets as possible
  • 100 crunches
  • Run 1 mile
  • 75 pushups in as few sets as possible
  • 75 crunches
  • Run 1 mile
  • 50 pushups in as few sets as possible
  • 50 crunches


How much swimming can you do in 20-30 minutes? Some people can swim a mile in that time. Here is a great workout though if you want to mix a little PT with swimming.

Swim PT

Repeat 5-10 times:

  • Swim 100 yards
  • Do 10-20 pushups
  • Abs - 20-30

This is the ultimate workout I have ever done in under 20 minutes. The challenge is to do:

  • 100 pullups as few sets as possible
  • 200 pushups in as few 2:00 sets as possible
  • 300 situps in as few 2:00 sets as possible

Do these as quickly as possible. You can alternate exercises after each set of maximum repetitions.

As you can see, you can do quite a bit in as little as 20-30 minutes. These workouts are a little advanced and you should consult your doctor before starting an exercise program, especially if you have not exercised in several years. Of course you can create your own program using these exercise ideas for your own fitness level. If you want to improve your PFT scores the motto is, "You will succeed by failing." So push yourself every set until you can no longer perform the exercise. If you do this 2-3 times a week, you will have better PT scores within a month.

Related Video

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