Forget weights — this 20-minute bodyweight workout builds full-body strength and it’s a great mood booster

a woman performing high knees outdoors
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Sometimes when you're feeling a little stressed or like you've not had a moment to yourself all day, it just takes a short bout of exercise and some fresh air to boost your mood. If that's what you're in need of right now, you'll enjoy this 20-minute no-equipment high-intensity interval training (HIIT) routine.

Designed by fitness trainer Senada Greca , the workout is all about getting you moving, raising your heart rate, challenging muscles all over your body and leaving you feeling accomplished after 20 minutes of high-intensity exercise.

As we mentioned, no equipment is needed for this routine but if you want to make things a little more comfortable you may opt for completing the exercises on one of the best yoga mats

Gaiam Yoga Mat 6mm: was $39 now $29 @ Amazon

Gaiam Yoga Mat 6mm: was $39 now $29 @ Amazon
With a reversible textured sticky non-slip surface, the Gaiam yoga mat ensures excellent traction, keeping you stable and secure throughout your core workouts. Plus, it's lightweight so you can easily carry this mat around and get your sessions done wherever.

What is the 20-minute workout?

There are just six exercises to familiarise yourself with. It's in your best interest to view the video demonstrations performed by Greca in the video below. This will help you nail the correct form and reduce any strain on your joints and muscles, helping to prevent any long-term issues.

You will work for 45 seconds on each exercise and rest for 15 seconds between each move. It's also important that you allow yourself one minute of rest between each round. This will recharge your batteries and help you make it to the end of three rounds of this bodyweight routine.

Greca says if you can't do the exercises for the full 45 seconds, slow down and modify it and then see how much you have left in the tank before you throw in the towel.

  • Squat with alternating cross body elbow to knee
  • Dynamic lateral lunges with forward reach
  • Alternating side curtsy lunge with squat combo
  • Switch jump lunges with upward reach
  • Plank jack push ups
  • Side plank with toe touches

The biggest blocker that can get in people’s way when it comes to exercising regularly is finding the time to do it. This is where bodyweight HIIT workouts are incredibly efficient, as they involve short bursts of intense exercise followed by brief periods of rest or lower-intensity activity. 

This approach allows you to maximize calorie burn, build on strength and increase your cardiovascular health in as short a time as 20 minutes. This is especially ideal for busy schedules or those who like to keep their workouts short and sweet.

You can perform these workouts in the comfort of your own home, at the gym or even outdoors in your garden or local park. So if you’re looking for a cost-effective way to keep fit, say hello to more bodyweight HIIT sessions. If you can, we highly recommend taking this HIIT session outdoors to complete. 

Exercising outdoors offers the opportunity to experience a change of scenery amidst a busy or lazy day and allows you to connect with your outdoor surroundings, which can have a positive impact on your overall mental well-being. 

But you can still experience the mental benefits of performing this circuit indoors. The fast-paced, energetic nature of HIIT exercise can help reduce stress, boost your mood, and provide you with a sense of accomplishment.

If you fancy increasing the challenge of this routine you could look to incorporate one or two of the best kettlebells into the exercises and turn it into a high intensity resistance training workout.

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Jessica Downey
Fitness Writer

Jessica is an experienced fitness writer with a passion for running. Her love for keeping fit and fueling her body with healthy and enjoyable food quite naturally led her to write about all things fitness and health-related. If she isn’t out testing the latest fitness products such as the latest running shoe or yoga mat for reviewing then she can be found writing news and features on the best ways to build strength, active aging, female health, and anything in between. Before then she had a small stint writing in local news, has also written for Runners World UK (print and digital), and gained experience with global content marketing agency, Cedar Communications.

Born and raised in Scotland, Jessica is a massive fan of exercising and keeping active outdoors. When at home she can be found running by the sea, swimming in it, or up a mountain. This continued as she studied and trained to become a PPA-accredited magazine journalist in Wales. And since working and living in London, she splits her time between weight training in the gym, trying new fitness classes, and finding scenic running routes. Jessica enjoys documenting this on her fitness-inspired Instagram page @jessrunshere where she loves engaging with like-minded fitness junkies.

She is a big fan of healthy cooking and loves learning more about this area with expert nutritionists she has met over the years. Jessica is a big advocate for building healthy relationships with food rather than building restrictive attitudes towards it. When she isn’t eating or running she also enjoys practicing yoga in her free time as it helps her to unwind and benefits her performance in other sports.

  • TangoWithTheMango
    This looks like a great routine, however it's missing progressive overload.

    Id recommend not forgoing weights entirely, but to incorporate them gradually to provide more resistance.

    Resistance bands can be carried everywhere, so they are an excellent tool to incorporate into the routine. They can fit in your purse or bag and can make the exercise more challenging.
    Reply