Pressed for Time? Try This 20-Minute, 200-Rep Workout

If you've got 20 minutes, you can get in an intense workout that will build muscle.


As much as you'd like to schedule your life around your training, chances are you have school, a job, family and other commitments that make it impossible. Some days, you might only be able to squeeze in a 20-minute workout. But it's pointless, because there's no way to sufficiently fatigue the muscles in 20 minutes of training. Right? Wrong!

The Formula

You will perform four exercises in "giant set" fashion, meaning you do all four in a row before taking a break. Rest for one minute between giant sets. That's not much, but you don't have much time. Do four sets of each exercise for 20, 15, 10 and 5 reps, for a total of 50. Take 50 and multiply it by four (number of exercises) and you get 200 reps.

Add weight as the reps decrease. That means you devote part of your 60-second break between giant sets to changing weights for each exercise.

To get all 200 reps in within the 20-minute time limit, you have to move, so don't waste time between sets.

Here are three sample workouts to help you understand this program. Try them for a couple of weeks. You should feel like you pushed yourself well.

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Chest, Shoulders, Triceps

  • Exercises: Incline Bench Press, Incline Flys, Lateral Raise, Triceps Pressdown.
  • Perform each exercise consecutively for 20 reps. Rest one minute and add weights.
  • Perform each exercise consecutively for 15 reps. Rest one minute and add weights.
  • Perform each exercise consecutively for 10 reps. Rest one minute and add weights.
  • Perform each exercise consecutively for 5 reps. Return weights and you're done.

Back, Biceps, Abs

  • Exercises: Bent-Over Barbell Row, Wide Grip Lat Pulldown, Hammer Curl, Weighted Crunch
  • Perform each exercise consecutively for 20 reps. Rest one minute and add weights.
  • Perform each exercise consecutively for 15 reps. Rest one minute and add weights.
  • Perform each exercise consecutively for 10 reps. Rest one minute and add weights.
  • Perform each exercise consecutively for 5 reps. Return weights and you're done.

Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Calves

  • Exercises: Dumbbell Squat, Leg Press, Stiff-Legged Deadlift, Seated Calf Raise
  • Perform each exercise consecutively for 20 reps. Rest one minute and add weights.
  • Perform each exercise consecutively for 15 reps. Rest one minute and add weights.
  • Perform each exercise consecutively for 10 reps. Rest one minute and add weights.
  • Perform each exercise consecutively for 5 reps. Return weights and you're done.

Other Options

You can perform this program with four exercises for each body part. Examples include:

  • Chest: Barbell Bench Press, Weighted Dip, Cable Crossover, Push-Up (add weight to your back or elevate your feet).
  • Back: Deadlift, Two-Arm Dumbbell Row, Pull-Up, Seated Row
  • Shoulders: Front Raise, Side Raise, Rear Raise, Upright Row
  • Legs:  Squat, Stiff-Legged Deadlift, Leg Press, Standing Calf Raise
  • Biceps: Close Grip Barbell Curl, Wide Grip Barbell Curl, Seated Dumbbell Curl, Hammer Curl
  • Triceps: Overhead Extension, Kickback, Tricep Dips, Rope Pressdown
  • Abs: Crunches, Reverse Crunches, Side Bends in each direction


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: CHEST | BENCH PRESS | BUILD MUSCLE | WORKOUTS | EXERCISE | BENCH | PRESS | BARBELL | WEIGHTS | CRUNCH | LEG PRESS