How to get an effective workout in 20 minutes


Prioritizing exercise when working long hours at a desk job or other activities, is challenging. Yet, long stretches of sitting with little movement harm your health, cutting years off your life. The struggle for many has been finding time to schedule hour-long workouts each week. But there are other options. If you can spare twenty minutes most days of the week, you can achieve good physical fitness with a short, intense, and efficient workout that improves lung function, blood pressure, and cardiovascular health, and may add years to your life.

We’re learning more and more that the current recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity workouts each week, which many of us struggle to achieve, can be cut in half as long as the workout is intense. So, it’s not the length of time spent in the gym; it’s more about the intensity of the exercise.

This news has been echoed many times by various studies.  For instance, a 2019 study conducted by the American Cancer Society and published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine found that moderate to vigorous exercise for 75 minutes accumulated each week is associated with cutting mortality risk by 45 percent. 

What know that longer, less intense workouts are health-promoting versus not exercising, but shorter, more intense workouts are even better. You can gain valuable health benefits in a short time without sacrificing precious time. 

What does a 20-minute workout look like?

To achieve improved cardiovascular health for reducing chronic diseases, the focus is to utilize compound exercises. A compound exercise is any movement using multiple muscle groups at a time. Using big muscle groups (arms, legs, abs) is your objective. Examples of compound exercises include the following:

  • Push-ups
  • Deadlifts
  • Squats
  • Planks
  • Wall sits
  • Step-ups
  • Kettlebell swings
  • Pull-ups

Compound exercises are effective for getting in a great workout is because during the moves, your body diverts blood from organs to the muscles that are working. This alone will raise your heart rate and increases calorie burn and metabolism. 

Here’s an example of what a 20 minute workout of compound exercises might look like:

Start with a quick warm-up of jumping jacks, high knees (or marching or running in place), and the cat-cow yoga poses to loosen up the body. Then perform five squats, five push-ups, and a 30-second plank and repeat six times. There are a various ways to make a twenty-minute workout using compound exercises specific to you and your physical capabilities.

For the cool-down, take three to four minutes to perform static floor stretches such as child pose, or the pigeon pose, where one leg is stretched out straight behind you, and the other leg is bent in front with your calf on the ground.

Suppose twenty-minute workouts using compound exercises are a more realistic and achievable way to fit in physical fitness. In that case, this can be a good way to enhance your overall health and well-being. 


Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy.  Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncology and prostate cancer 911. 

How to get an effective workout in 20 minutes
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Dr. David B. Samadi

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Dr. David B. Samadi