Your 20-Minute Weight-Loss Workout Plan

In a short burst, you can get all of the exercise you need to effectively lose fat.

November 22, 2017
dumbbell row
John Fedele/Getty Images

Adapted from The Women's Health Fitness Fix

A forgiving and flexible fitness mentality—that is, doing any amount of exercise wherever and however possible—can be a productive and effective way to drop pounds. That’s why this book is packed with routines that give you plenty of options, based on your schedule, your mood, and what type of equipment you have (or don’t have).

But while freestyling your way through weekly workouts may offer variety, it can also make it harder to develop a consistent routine—especially for beginners. Without a set plan, a daily commitment to hit the gym can quickly slide. For many women, the problem is finding a program they can get into.

More: 7 Days to Slim: A Practical Guide to Feeling Lighter in a Week

For this workout, start with the first exercise and complete as many reps as you can in 30 seconds, then rest for 30 seconds; continue to the next exercise and repeat this pattern until you’ve completed each move. That’s 1 set. If you’re a beginner (or it has been longer than 2 months since you’ve last exercised), repeat just one more time for a total of 2 sets. If you’re more experienced, repeat three more times for a total of 4 sets. (It should take you about 20 minutes.) 

After your sets, you’ll have the option of doing a high-intensity, 4-minute “afterburn finisher.” Think of it like extra credit, and aim to complete this exercise after most workouts—even if you’re already tired. “It gives you a chance to stamp the exclamation point on a great workout—one more chance to throw an extra log on that metabolic furnace you’re trying to ignite,” says Robert dos Remedios, CSCS, strength and conditioning director at the College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita, California. It also helps you mentally push past your limits and test what your body is capable of achieving. They’re super simple to complete: Do as many as you can in 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds. That’s 1 set. Do 8 sets.

Let's get started! 

dumbbell skier swing
1
Dumbbell skier swing

Hold a pair of dumbbells and stand with your feet hip-width apart. Push your hips back and bring the weights behind you (A), then quickly thrust your hips forward and swing the dumbbells to shoulder height, squeezing your glutes and straightening your legs (B). That’s 1 rep; continue in a fluid, consistent motion.

More: 10 Slimming Staples for Your Pantry

dumbbell goblet squat
2
Dumbbell goblet squat

Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold a dumbbell vertically in front of your chest, with both hands cupping the dumbbell head (A). Push your hips back and bend your knees to lower into a squat until your thighs are parallel to the floor (B). Push yourself back to the starting position. That’s 1 rep. 

More: 9 Eating Hacks for Weight Loss

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suspended pushup
3
Suspended pushup

Secure a TRX or other suspension system, face away from the anchor point with your feet shoulder-width apart, and hold both handles in front of your chest, arms extended (A). Bend your elbows to lower your chest toward the handles (performing a pushup), keeping a straight line from head to heels (B). Pause, then AB press back to the starting position. That’s 1 rep.

Don’t have a suspension system like TRX? You can place your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart on a step or bench.

dumbbell row
4
Dumbbell row

Holding a dumbbell in each hand, stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees bent, arms hanging straight down, palms facing each other; bend forward to lower your torso toward the floor (A). Pull your shoulder blades together and row the weights toward your chest (B). Return to the starting position. That’s 1 rep. 

More: 3 Weight-Loss Tricks Friends Can Use Together

body saw
5
Body saw

Place your feet on Valslides and get into a pushup position, hands under your shoulders (A). (You can make the move easier by placing your forearms on the ground.) Keeping your body in a straight line from head to heels, push your feet away from you as far as you can (B). Pull back to the starting position, pressing through your palms. That’s 1 rep.

No Valslides? You can also use small towels or even paper plates in their place.

FINISHER: Jump rope: Grab the handles of a jump rope, starting with the rope behind you. Keeping your body upright and elbows close, make small circles with your wrists to swing the rope over your head. Jump off the floor as the rope passes under your feet, and land softly on the balls of your feet. Continue as quickly as possible.

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