Two 20 Minute HIIT Workouts that Will Give You a Full-Body Shred

Time, or lack of it, is often used as a reason for not getting after it.  Finding time for your usual workout can be a challenge, even for people who love to workout. Either way, some will skip their workout altogether due to a lack of time which these two 20 minute HIIT Workouts aims to avoid.

Because there’s a common misconception floating around that you need a lot of time to work out.

Well, I’m here to bust that myth with the 20 minute HIIT workouts guide so you can maintain and even improve your gains when time is of the essence. But be warned. These workouts are high-intensity interval training (HIIT). You will feel the burn when performing strength exercises with limited workout and recovery time.

Here, we’ll explain the benefits and the why behind structuring 20-minute HIIT workouts to maintain or improve your gains.

Benefits of 20 Minute HIIT Workouts

The effectiveness of 20-minute HIIT workouts lie in its principles. HIIT involves a period of intense exercise followed by a brief recovery period. The intense part is done in a few ways. One as many reps in a certain time frame say 30 seconds. Or performing every minute on the minute sets.

The key to success with 20-minute workouts lies in consistency and intensity. Maintaining a high intensity can enhance the benefits over longer, less intense workout sessions.

Short, intense workouts, like HIIT workouts, are appealing when time is short, and you need to get the work in. When performed correctly and with adequate recovery time, HIIT workouts can maintain and even improve cardio endurance and muscle and fat loss.

Improved Cardio

Alternating between HIIT and brief recovery intervals trains your heart and lungs to adapt to varying demands, helping to improve your cardiovascular health.


Traditional hypertrophy-type workouts will always be preferable for building muscle, but HIIT is useful when time is restricted. The rapid-fire succession of exercises targeting your whole body leads to muscle fatigue, which can stimulate muscle growth during the recovery period.

Fat Loss

HIIT increases your metabolic rate and oxygen intake, which means you’ll continue to burn calories even after the workout—known as the “afterburn effect” or post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). This effect, combined with the calorie burn during the workout, makes short, intense sessions effective for fat loss when time is short.

Tips To Make Your 20-Minute HIIT Workout Effective

Staying focused and pushing the intensity is critical to getting the most out of your 20-minute workout. Here are some tips and tricks to maximize the effectiveness of your workout.

  • Minimize Distractions: Choose an environment where you’re less likely to be interrupted.
  • Set Clear Intentions: Know what you aim to achieve in the session before starting. Is it to improve fat loss or maintain muscle?
  • Track Your Progress: Use a stopwatch to keep the intensity high during the work periods and fully utilize the rest periods.
  • Listen to Your Body: Modify or change the exercise variation to prevent injury if you feel pain or discomfort.
  • Progressive Overload Is Key: Gradually increase the difficulty of the exercises by adding more reps, increasing the time of the work intervals, or incorporating more challenging exercise variations.
  • Set up: Get all the equipment you need ready beforehand to minimize transition time.

Common HIIT Mistakes To Avoid

Here are some common mistakes to avoid to ensure you get the most out of your HIIT workout and lessen the chance of injury while you’re pushing it.

  • Quality Over Quantity: It’s better to perform fewer reps with proper form than to rush through many with poor technique. Bad form reduces the effectiveness of the exercise and increases the risk of injury.
  • Don’t Skip The Warm-Up/ Cool-down: The warm-up and cool-down are critical components of your workout. Skipping them can lead to injury and worsen your recovery.
  • Don’t Go To Light: With HIIT workouts, there is a tendency to go light and do as many reps as possible. Select a challenging and doable weight for your work interval or rep range. If it’s too heavy, you can always go lighter.

Warmup and Cooldown Guidelines

Just because time is limited doesn’t mean you’ll skip the all-important warm-up and cool-down. Here’s how to properly prepare for and recover from your workout.

Warm-Up (3 Minutes)

A proper warm-up is crucial to prepare your body for the high-intensity workout. You spend 3 minutes on a dynamic warm-up to increase your heart rate and move blood to all the working limbs.

Here’s a quick warmup that hits all your major muscle groups.

Deadbug: 4 reps on both sides.

Spiderman with rotation: 4 reps of both sides

Inchworm with pushups: 6 reps

This short warm-up ensures your body is ready to tackle the workout with a reduced risk of injury.

Cooldown (2 minutes)

The key here is to lower your heart rate to kick off the recovery process, and a great way to do this is deep belly breathing. Crocodile breathing for two minutes is an easy way to wind down after a challenging HIIT workout.

20 Minute HIIT Workout Template

There are many ways to structure a full-body, high-intensity workout, but this is one I’ve found works best: performing a circuit of five exercises that train the entire body using exercises that train multiple muscle groups. Here is the template you’ll use.

1A. Squat or Hinge Variation

1B. Bilateral horizontal or vertical push variation

1C. Alternating single-leg exercise

1D. Row/Pulling exercise variation.

1E. Power or core exercise variation.

Run through this circuit three times using a 30-second work 30-second rest interval or perform every minute on the minute sets. This is where you perform a certain amount of reps, then rest the rest of the minute before moving on to the next exercise. Both work, and it’s just a matter of preference.

Two 20 Minute HIIT Workouts For a Full Body Shred

Using the preceding template, here are some examples to use and tinker with to get an effective 20-minute full-body workout.  Any exercise will work as long as you follow the template above.

1A.  Dumbbell Front Squat

1B.  Dumbbell Bench Press

1C.  Alternating Goblet Side Lunge

1D.  Unilateral Deadstop Row (Do 15 seconds per side or half of the total reps you are using)

1E. Med Ball Slam

1A.  Dumbbell RDL

1B.  Tall Kneeling Alternating Shoulder Press

1C.  Alternating Goblet Reverse Lunge

1D.  Bilateral Dumbbell Bent Over Row

1E.  Leopard Crawl ( if doing reps, do the same reps forward and backward) 

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