The Twenty-Second Workout

We can do anything for twenty seconds, right?

American wartime propaganda poster with the words "We Can Do It" and an image of a female factory worker (Rosie the Riveter) flexing an arm

There’s lots of research out there showing that twenty seconds of maximum effort can have huge health benefits (e.g. this 2016 study from McMaster University, showing that workouts involving three twenty-second intervals of all-out effort had the same health benefits as “regular” fifty-minute workouts). But that’s maximum effort and how many of us can push ourselves to maximum effort at home?

For me, staying fit is more about fitting in movement where I can into my day and doing things I enjoy. So today, for example, my “exercise” included swinging my kids around, dancing to Daft Punk in my kitchen, and walking around the block. At the end of the day, I still had some energy though, so I decided to fit in a ten-minute workout before switching to pajamas.

When I’m working out at the end of the day (or any other un-motivating time), I aim for maximum variety. For times like these, a 20/20/20 design is perfect. Switching up the move every twenty seconds makes ten minutes fly by. I also designed this workout to focus on my form, so I sandwiched some isometric work in between bodyweight and plyometric exercises. So here it is, a workout that switches up every twenty seconds … for the most part.

  1. Jumping jacks, high knee run, butt kick run – 20 seconds each
  2. Body weight squats, isometric squat, jump squats – 20 seconds each
  3. Right leg lunge, isometric lunge, plyometric lunge – 20 seconds each
  4. Slow mountain climber, high plank, fast mountain climber – 20 seconds each
  6. Repeat 1-5, using left leg for lunges

Disclaimer: As always, consult a physician or other health professional before starting any workout program. This blog is solely for informational purposes. If you choose to do any of the exercises discussed here, you do so at your own risk.

2 thoughts on “The Twenty-Second Workout

    1. Iso lunge – hold at the bottom of your lunge (both legs at 90 degrees, back heel off the floor), Plyo lunge – either a little burst jump on one leg, or you can jump and switch legs, also known as plyo split squats. Let me know how it goes 🙂


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