T Nation

20 minutes of training a day


If someone was interested in doing only 20 minutes of weightlifting a day, just to stay in shape (mainly the same thing day in and day out) what would you guys recommend?



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Curves for women.


Training 20 minutes is better then not training at all. Make it an intense workout with little rest in between sets and go heavy and you can get a good work out. Concentrate of one body part or muscle group each day.


Twenty minutes times 7 days a week equals 2 hours and 20 minutes, which is roughly equivalent to someone who works out 3 days a week for 50 minutes; i.e., 2 hours 30 minutes.

I can't see that doing the same thing day in and day out would be ideal, though. You need one or two days between any given workout or exercise for recovery.

I would think you could follow any program that follows a 3-day split, that's 45-50 minutes in duration. To get the most bang for the buck, of course, stick with your compound multi-joint exercises.

Don't forget your cardio, though.


I agree with Tampa, you guys are way too narrow minded if you don't think you can do some good in 20 solid minutes.

Depending on your goals, if you rotated through a series of compound movements I think you can have an effective workout.

Pavel Tsatsouline writes in Power to the People about doing nothing but bench, deads, and overhead presses, keep the workouts short and and do them often.


Tone here lately is pretty lousy and closed minded. If this is all you can do, 20 minutes, then get the most work done that you can. big compound movements. same thing every day no. staleness and recovery. Depends on what you enjoy and what you have.


Sure it does, try doing 20 rep squats abnd something else. You will wish you had only 10 minutes.


I do an HST split that takes about 30 minutes per day. I train full upper body M,W,F and full lower body T,TH,Sat. All compound movements. I do 2 weeks of 15 reps, 2 weeks of 10 reps, 2 weeks of 5 reps and 2 weeks of 3 reps. On the 15's, I will do only 2 sets per exercise but on the 3's, I will up the volume to 6 to 7 sets. Increase the weight in accordance with HST protocol. If you can't do 6 to 7 sets each of 2 opposing exercises for 3 reps in 30 minutes, you're not training intensely enough anyway.


You could try Escalating Density Training by Charles Staley - http://www.t-mag.com/articles/196dens2.html
The program lasts 40 minutes a day, which is 2 20 minute sets. But you could change it so you are doing 2 10 minute sets, or allow yourself 30 minutes and do 2 15 minute sets. Just push yourself that little bit harder as it's a shorter time frame


I would second Anderson's recommendation of Power To The People by Tsatsouline. He is a strong proponent of frequent, brief sessions using the same set of exercises. However, you will not, according to Tsatsouline, gain any appreciable mass, but your muscles will "harden" due to increased neurogenic tone.


Focus on compound movements such as dips, chins, bent over rows, squats,deadlifts, power cleans etc. Try doing three intense workouts per week and three active recovery for maximum benefit.

Mike Mahler


Currently, I workout 5 days a week (M-F) for 20-30 mins TOPS!! I love it and am making some of the best progress of my life. I don't get burnt out like I used to, and Im in and out before most people are even thru yapping or warming up.

I do MON:bench/rows, TUE:cleans and squats, WED:behind the neck press and pullups, THURS: deads and goodmornings, FRI: incline press and db rows.


Why would you want to maintain and/or stay in shape?

Its possible to improve your physique/get stronger even though you are only going for 20 mins....


You could try this d. snatch/clean combo. It`s an absolute killer and should?t take more than 15 minutes to complete. If you pick weights that are light enough you could do this 3-5 days a week:

Stairway To Shredded:
The Ultimate Kettlebell/Dumbell Ladder Superset
For Anaerobic Endurance, Fat Loss, And Personal Challenge

by Nick Radonjic, CSTS

This is not a workout for the faint of heart, literally and figuratively. It involves placing a #1-pood or 36-pound kettlebell (if you don't have a kettlebell, use a 35 pound dumbbell instead), a 53-pound kettlebell or 1.5 pood (if you don't have access to one, use a 55-pound dumbbell instead), and 2-pood or 72-pound kettlebell or (70 pound-dumbbell in the alternative) all in a straight line about two feet apart from each another.

Then after warming-up, begin as follows: snatch the 35-pound weight three times with the left hand, and then do the same with the opposite hand. Next move to the 55-pound weight and snatch that 3 times with the left hand, and then repeat with the right hand. After that is completed go to the 70-pound weight and do the same. Not done yet! Now go back and repeat everything, but now you'll merely do either kettlebell cleans or dumbbell cleans for sets of three! After everything is said and done, and you're through choking on your lung, you will have rested for 60 seconds and then repeat the superset for 3-5 times, with 60 second rests between sets.

What that really translates to is that each "set" will last about 2:00 to 2:15 seconds! Also, with the brief rest interval, you're really pushing. Assuming you do the 5 sets, you will have done 180 reps of volume of kettlebell or dumbbell snatches and cleans in about 15:00, with actual working sets comprising between 10:00 to 11:00 worth of work!

This translates into tremendous caloric expenditure, growth hormone release, and metabolic increase. In English, this means LESS BDOY FAT folks! And over time, a lower resting heart rate as well. Also, keep in mind that these are explosive movements which will translate into incorporating the fast twitch muscle fibers that martial artists, police officers, and other anaerobic athletes so rely upon. Do this "gauntlet" three days per week and you'll surely be on the way to losing that unwanted body fat. Good luck and keep training.

Nick Radonjic, CSTS, is an experienced martial artist (having studied a wide range of combat disciplines) who has posted a 405 deadlift at a bodyweight of 185.


Try EDT...I do two 15 min periods. And believe me, all these pussies that are saying that you cant get a workout in, in less than an hour or whatever, they are just not working hard enough. Or try what someone else posted about the K-bells...20 or 30 mins with those things and you'll be worked.


Honestly, you are blessing yourself if you do very short, infrequent workouts. When I got my act together training wise, I never had a workout go past a half hour...

For cardio concerns, just do HIIT with VERY short rests (20-30 seconds at the most) and do it for under 10 minutes max. Hell, I often get away with keeping it under 5 minutes.


I remembering reading that article soeholm presented...

I'm still too scared to try it out.


that sounds like something I might try...


power clean and push press alt with weighted chins for 20 minutes???? How bout that? yikes. Low reps, high load. dueces or trips with no rest save for ass transit between stations. HELL NO every day.