Using your whole body and adding some resistance will help you create the best 20-minute workout possible. You don’t need to jog for miles and miles, pump iron for an hour or use a cardio machine until you drop to get a great workout. Exercising for 20 minutes can be an effective way to burn calories and improve your heart health if you follow a few simple workout tips.
Beginners to exercise can get an effective workout by exercising a pace similar to the one you achieve during a brisk walk. You don’t have to sweat or pant heavily to work out in a way that helps improve your heart health, improve your cardio stamina and build muscular endurance. Find the maximum heart rate you can maintain your entire workout without having to stop for rest and try to increase your pace each week. Start with low-impact exercise such as cycling, using an exercise bike, walking up and down stairs, hula-hooping, power walking or following along with a TV workout program at your own pace. Reduce your pace during the last five minutes of your workout to get your heart rate close to normal before you finish your workout.
If you’re able to do aerobic exercise, the best 20-minute workouts include resistance and sprints. Warm up for three minutes to coordinate the functions of your heart, lungs and muscles. Exercise at the maximum pace you can continue for 15 minutes without stopping. Every five minutes, add a 60- or 90-second sprint, working near your maximum effort. Sprints can include pedaling faster on an exercise bike, running faster on a treadmill, rowing faster, skipping rope harder or any other burst of physical activity that gets your heart rate higher than normal aerobic exercise.
After your sprint, slow down and recover for five minutes before doing another sprint. If you’re working on a treadmill, exercise bike or doing aerobic dancing, add dumbbells. Create a cardio workout on a home gym by using just enough resistance to raise your heart rate, but not fatigue your muscles to failure. Reduce your pace during the last few minutes to lower your heart rate before you stop, then stretch during your final few minutes.
You burn more calories and build muscular strength and endurance with a circuit-training routine than steady-state aerobics, and you’ll have a longer post-workout calorie burn. Circuit training has you moving from exercise to exercise in rapid succession, changing muscle movements frequently. Perform 15 to 25 repetitions using 40 percent to 70 percent of your maximum intensity, then take a 15- to 30-second break before starting another exercise, recommends exercise physiologist Fabio Comana. (http://www.acefitness.org/updateable/update_display.aspx?pageID=605)
Good choices for circuit training routines include calisthenics, such as jumping jacks, butt kicks, burpees and skipping rope, and bodyweight exercises, such as pushups, situps, pullups, chinups and dips. Dumbbell, kettlebell or resistance band exercises are also good choices for a circuit training routine. Your heart will be beating at a very high rate at the end of a circuit-training routine, so make sure to cool down for several minutes before you finish your workout. Walk around and shake out your arms while you lower your heart rate. Finish with a good stretch, especially if you performed weighted exercises or any with resistance, such as bodyweight exercises or those using resistance bands.