With the holidays coming, your schedule might get a bit more hectic. And we all know that holidays bring plenty of extra indulgence opportunities which can negatively impact your health and fitness goals (hey, everything in moderation, though!). The good news is, a 20-minute full-body strength training workout, performed twice a week, can still help you build lean muscle mass and improve your overall strength.
And, in case you need a refresher on why you should be concerned with building lean muscle (you too, ladies), keep the following in mind. Lean muscle mass helps your body burn more calories at rest. The more you have, the more you burn while doing nothing but sitting! Also, strength training is beneficial for increasing bone density and reducing the risk of osteoporosis. Lastly, building lean muscle makes your clothes fit better and reduces the risk of injury.
Regarding the 20-minute duration, the effectiveness of a workout depends on the intensity, volume, and your individual fitness level. Shorter, more intense workouts can be effective if you focus on compound exercises and maintain proper form. It's important to progressively increase the weight and intensity as you become more conditioned. If you have specific goals or health concerns, consider consulting with a fitness professional or personal trainer for a personalized plan.
All that said, here's a simple workout routine that targets major muscle groups and is efficient for a time-effective session.
Start with a brief warm-up to increase blood flow and prepare your muscles. You can do activities like jumping jacks, jogging in place, or light dynamic stretches for 2 minutes.
In this workout, you'll perform a series of compound exercises that work multiple muscle groups simultaneously. You'll do each exercise for a specific number of sets and reps, with minimal rest between sets. Note: keep scrolling to see alternative suggestions for these exercises to keep the workouts from getting too mundane!
- Place the two kettlebells on the ground, about shoulder-width apart.
- Start in a high plank position with your hands on the handles of the kettlebells. Your body should form a straight line from head to heels, and your feet should be hip-width apart.
- Lower your chest towards the ground by bending your elbows. Keep your body in a straight line and maintain proper push-up form.
- Push back up to the starting position, fully extending your arms.
- Do 3 sets of 10 reps.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Keep your back straight and chest up.
- Lower your body by bending your knees until your thighs are parallel to the ground.
- Push through your heels to return to the starting position.
- Do 3 sets of 10 reps.
Dumbbell Rows (with bench):
- Hold a dumbbell in one hand.
- Bend your knees slightly and hinge at your hips to bring your torso parallel to the ground.
- Place your non-working hand and knee on the bench for support, with your knee directly below your hip.
- Pull the dumbbell towards your hip, keeping your elbow close to your body.
- Lower the dumbbell back down and repeat.
- Do 3 sets of 10 reps per arm.
- Stand with your feet together.
- Take a step forward with one leg and lower your body until both knees are bent at a 90-degree angle.
- Push back to the starting position.
- Do 3 sets of 10 reps per leg.
- Get into a plank position with your elbows directly below your shoulders and your body in a straight line from head to heels.
- Hold this position for the specified time.
- Do 3 sets of 30 seconds.
Finish your workout with a brief cool-down to lower your heart rate and reduce muscle tension. Perform static stretches for your major muscle groups, holding each stretch for about 20-30 seconds.
Alternative Exercises to Try
If you want to change things up for the second workout of the week, here are some different exercises to consider. Keep the reps and sets the same.
Instead of the kettlebell push-up, try incline push-ups, decline push-ups, or diamond push-ups for added challenge and targeting different chest muscles.
Instead of squats, try goblet squats where you hold a dumbbell or kettlebell close to your chest while squatting. This helps with form and engages your core more.Instead of dumbbell row – if you have access to gym equipment – T-bar rows are a great alternative for a different back workout.
Instead of lunges, try one of the following:
- Step-Ups: Use a bench or sturdy surface to step up and down with dumbbells for an excellent lower body workout.
- Bulgarian Split Squats: Elevate one foot behind you and lunge with the other leg. This exercise is excellent for targeting your glutes and hamstrings.
Instead of planks, try one of the following:
- Side Planks: Work your obliques by doing side planks on your elbows or hands.
- Bird-Dog Planks: From a plank position, raise one arm and the opposite leg simultaneously, engaging your core and stabilizing muscles.