Four 20-minute workouts that actually work

I love (yet despise the laziness of) the quote: "There is not enough time to do all the nothing we want to do." I equally despise the fact that nearly 70 per cent of Australians are doing nothing and not taking the time to exercise.

It's time to put down the video games and turn off the streaming channels – for just a fraction of the day. Everybody can spare 20 minutes of their day. Here are four extremely effective workouts that promote weight loss using little to no equipment:

Hit the stairs

Take an average, cruisy jog (or walk) and increase the intensity with stairs. Running the stairs intensifies the cardio load while conditioning your muscles. Calves, hamstrings, glutes, and ankle stability get a solid run while you're burning serious calories.

Jog for five minutes, then run up and down 500 stairs, and aim for a 5 minute pace. Continue your jog for another five minutes then revisit the stairs for a second session. Grab a watch and time those stairs session and beat last week's pace.

Tabata training

We should be thanking Dr. Izumi Tabata from Japan every day for the exercise regime he stamped his namesake to in 1996 – Tabata Training. The simple yet intense regime produces results. Tabata is 20 seconds of exercise at a high intensity, 10 seconds of rest, then repeat for four minutes in total. For a 20 minute workout:

  • Squats to pushups (20 seconds of squats, rest 10 seconds, then 20 seconds of push ups – 4 minutes)
  • Sit ups to lunges
  • Fast, high knees to burpees
  • Sprints to jump squats

Four full-body Tabata sessions with a minute of rest between each round is an efficient, butt-kicking workout for all levels of fitness.

Full body circuit training

Most group training session take a simple approach – numerous stations with a unique exercise at each stop. Exercise for 45 seconds, rest for 15 as you shuffle to the next station and movement. There's no reason this can't be replicated for a solo athlete in the back garden.

For 45 seconds, skip rope at a high intensity. Rest for 15 seconds, then continue on with squats, push ups, sit ups, lunges, and burpees. Three or four rounds is a solid effort, and these compound movements will burn calories and create lean muscle mass.


If you own only one piece of fitness equipment, make it a skipping rope.

Punish in the park

Your local park is often a gym hidden in plain sight. All you need is a pull up bar for a full body, punishing workout.

Pullups are the king of the bodyweight exercises, with hardly a muscle not utilised from the waist up. Burpees are an all body, cardio movement that include a pushup and squat thrust to engage everything from legs to core to chest to arms – you're working head to toe. And squat jumps continue to work the legs while bringing up the heart rate.

  • Warm up for five minutes (cool down after for five), then perform as many rounds as you can in 10 minutes of:
  • Five pull ups, 10 burpees, 15 jump squats

It looks so simple, yet it's so punishing.

If you're part of the 70 per cent mentioned above and just getting started in your training? You might need to scale down some of these sessions. But do know this - all four sessions will be getting your heart rate up and your muscles working You are burning calories and toning your body – that's the journey to weight loss and a new body.

Are you willing to take up the 20 minute challenge? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below.

Passion for lifestyle change is the cornerstone for everything Michael Jarosky does. A Sydney-based personal trainer, he cajoled thousands of Executive Style readers to undertake his 'Cut The BS' diet, and champions a charity weight-loss event, Droptober.

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