The Best 20-Minute Bodyweight Workout for Weight Loss

The Best 20-Minute Bodyweight Workout for Weight Loss

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Most quick cardio regimens for weight loss involve high-intensity interval training (HIIT) that leaves you gasping for air. And while they’re fantastic for conditioning and dropping fat, all that jumping around can take its toll on your joints and lead to muscle dysfunction and injury.

So, we’ve put together a workout that’ll get your heart pumping to ramp up your metabolism without stressing your body.

In this do-anywhere, bodyweight workout, you’ll push hard for 20 minutes to create core stability, open up tight hips, and get a much-needed cardio benefit that’s way more effective than jogging. We’ve designed this workout by alternating lower body and upper body movements as well as pushing and pulling exercises so there’s no need for rest. This way you can make the most of your time, performing two sets of these eight moves as a circuit.

1. Forward Lunge-to-Instep

Why it works: If I could pick just one move to stretch your entire body and prime it for athletic, three-dimensional movement, this would be the one.

How to do it: Start by stepping forward into a lunge with your left foot forward. Place your right forearm (or hand) to the ground and your left elbow to the inside of your left foot (shown here). Hold the stretch for two seconds. Then, place your left hand outside of your foot and push your hips up, pointing your front toes up. Return to standing position and repeat by stepping out with your right foot. Continue alternating sides.

Prescription: 10 reps per side

2. One-Arm, One-Leg Plank

Why it works: This move challenges you to keep your back flat and stabilized.

How to do it: From a pushup position with forearms on the ground (shown here), push up and support your weight on your elbows. Tuck your chin so your head is in line with your body. Lift one arm and the opposite leg, hold for two seconds. Switch limbs.

Prescription: 10 reps per side

3. Pullup

Why it works: Pullups create a V-shaped back, powerful shoulders, and work your chest. If you haven’t tried them since the physical fitness test in fourth grade, it’s time to revisit.

How to do it: Grab the bar with an overhand grip. Hanging from the bar, pull your shoulder blades back and down to lift your body up and build momentum. Finish by pulling up with your arms.

Prescription: 10 reps

4. Three-Way Pushup

Why it works: By doing three sets of 10 pushups in three different positions consecutively, we’re amping up this workout quickly while challenging our chest and shoulders from three angles.

How to do it: Do 10 traditional pushups (hands directly below the shoulders) followed by 10 “diamond” pushups (index fingers and triceps touching), followed by 10 wide-grip pushups (hands wider than shoulders).

Prescription: 10 reps of each

5. Squat Jump

Why it works: Squat jumps work your hips, knees, and ankles—and what’s called the triple flexion response that creates power in your jumps. If you can develop triple flexion, it will help with your running form.

How to do it: Stand with feet just outside your shoulders. Squat, keeping your knees behind your toes. After holding this position for two seconds, jump vertically. Pull your toes to your shins midair to prepare for landing. Be sure to land softly, with your hips back and down.

Prescription: 10 reps

6. Burpee

Why it works: Burpees are a full-body exercise that give you all the benefits of pushups while also challenging your cardiovascular system, ratcheting up the intensity of your workout.

How to do it: Squat, place you hands on the ground, and “jump” your feet out into a pushup position. Perform a pushup, then jump your feet to your hands. Then jump as high as you can, throwing your hands over your head.

Prescription: 10 reps

7. Mountain Climber

Why it works: Sure you’re gassed from those burpees, but we’re going to stay on the ground and continue pushing the cardio component of the workout with mountain climbers, which develop your hip flexors and abs.

How to do it: This movement mimics mountain climbing. Think of the ground as your mountain. Start in pushup position with the balls of your feet on the ground. Alternate driving your knees forward to their corresponding arm and keep your hips down for the entire motion.

Prescription: 30 reps per side

8. V-Sit Crunch

Why it works: This challenges your abs further after the mountain climbers while giving you a minor breather. Even if your abs are buried deep under that belly, this will help build your core strength.

How to do it: Begin on your back with hands extended over your head. Lift your legs and crunch up at the same time, forming your body into the shape of a “V.” Be sure to lift your legs and trunk simultaneously—doing one ahead of the other makes you lose a lot of the effectiveness of the movement. Exhale as you lift your legs and crunch and inhale as you return to the starting position.

Prescription: 15 reps

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