20-Minute Strength Workout (7 Basic Exercises)

By: Chris Freytag, CPT // November 30, 2022

If you’re looking for a tried and true 20-minute strength workout with basic, yet effective exercises, you’re in the right spot. While we love compound exercises and trying new things, sometimes you just want a full-body strength workout that you know is going to work.

Back-to-basics fitness and minimalist training is something we can get behind!

Whether you haven’t worked out in a while or you exercise often and are always trying the latest craze, one thing is the same: getting back to basics is good for your body. What do we mean by that?

Reacquainting yourself with some of the “old standbys” of the fitness world—think bicep curls, push-ups, and lunges—can both help you ease back into exercising if you’ve taken time off and perfect your form if you haven’t tried them in a while, making your other workouts more effective.

And make sure to try our 20-minute strength workout below with 7 of the most effective exercises that fitness trainers come back to time and time again.


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    Minimalist Training

    What is minimalist training? Minimalist training is simply a concept of doing less but achieving great results; it focuses on fitness basics. 

    Minimalist training is characterized by simplicity as it involves minimal equipment, time, space, and still helps you achieve results that make you look and feel your best.

    The below full body strength workout would be considered to be minimalist training as we are stripping it out to some OG exercises in the fitness world: ones that have been around forever and will stand the test of time.

    First, let’s get something straight: moves like curls, squats, and lunges are considered “basics” not because they’re boring, but because they’re super effective.

    These so-called “simple” moves are some of the best strength training moves around to tone your muscles and sculpt a leaner, stronger figure. And, once you master these, you can tackle my list of the best strength training moves for midlife women!

    They’re also the building blocks of countless other exercises—think squat jumps, side planks, and more—so once you’ve mastered the basics, you’re able to perform dozens of other exercises with more efficiency.

    When you’re working to get back in shape, getting back to the basics can help you ease back into a fitness routine. But even if you work out constantly, it’s nice to brush up on the basic movements you may not have practiced in a while.

    So while mixing up your fitness routine is definitely a good idea, it’s also important to brush up on what we know works by reacquainting yourself with these essential moves.

    New to strength training? Make sure to check my beginner’s guide to strength training before you jump into the workout below!

    20-Minute Full-Body Strength Training Workout

    This 20-minute full body strength workout contains some of these building blocks of fitness: squats, lunges, planks, push-ups, and more. It’s a quick, total-body workout that utilizes all the major muscle groups through basic movements needed to build strength.

    You’ll need a set of dumbbells (8 to 12 pounds, depending on your fitness level) and a mat or a soft surface. If you’re not sure which weight to start with, read my guide to knowing when to increase your weights first!

    20 Minute Full-Body Strength Training Workout Instructions

    • Perform each exercise 12 times. For planks, hold 30 seconds each. Try to move through the entire list without resting in-between.
    • Once you finish, get a quick drink of water and go through the list a second time.
    • Take a few moments to stretch, and you should have completed this strength workout in 20 minutes or less.

    Ready to go? Let’s get back to basics in this 20-minute strength workout.

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    1. Basic Squat

    Chris Freytag demonstrating a basic squat for a 20-minute full body strength workout

    A) Stand tall with your feet hip distance apart. Your hips, knees, and toes should all be facing forward.

    B) Bend your knees and extend your buttocks backward as if you are going to sit back into a chair. Make sure that you keep your knees behind your toes and your weight in your heels. Rise back up and repeat.

    Perform 12 reps

    2. Push-Up

    Chris Freytag demonstrating how to perform a push-up

    A) Start in plank position with your arms shoulder width apart. Engage your core and keep your abs tight. You can modify by doing a kneeling plank if the full is to challenging.

    B) Lower your chest to a hover above the mat while hugging your elbows in towards your side body and keep elbows pointing straight back. Press up by straightening arms and return to plank position.

    Perform 12 reps

    3. Stationary Lunge

    Chris Freytag performing a stationary lunge

    A) Stand tall with your feet hip distance apart. Take a large step backward with left foot and lower your body toward the floor. Both legs should be bent at a 90-degree angle at the bottom of the lunge

    B) Return to standing. Repeat.

    Perform 12 reps on each leg

    4. Shoulder Overhead Press

    Chris Freytag performing a shoulder overhead press

    A) Start with feet hip distance apart. Bring elbows out to the side creating a goal post position with arms, dumbbells are at the side of the head, and abdominals are engaged.

    B) Press arms straight up working the shoulders and return to starting position with control.

    Perform 12 reps

    5. Plank

    Chris Freytag Performing a Full Plank

    A) Begin lying on the floor with your hands flat on the floor, making sure that they are aligned directly under your shoulders.

    B) Engage your core and raise your body up off the floor, keeping your hands on the floor and your body in a straight line from your head to your feet. Keep your abdominals engaged and try to not let your hips rise or drop.

    Hold for 30 seconds

    6. Bicep Curl

    Chris Freytag Performing a Bicep Curl

    A) Stand with feet hip distance apart arms fully extended with a slight bend in elbow

    B) Bring weights in towards shoulders to complete bicep curl, return to start.

    Perform 12 Reps.

    7. Tricep Overhead Extensions

    Chris Freytag Performing a Tricep Overhead Extension

    A) Standing with feet hip distance apart. Arms are long with dumbbells directly overhead.  Keep your spine long and abs tight.

    B) Bend elbows lowering dumbbells to the base of the head. Keep your elbows hugging in towards your head and pointing forward. Then extend your arms long returning to your starting position working the triceps.

    Perform 12 reps

    20 Minute Workouts, Fitness, Strength Workouts, Total Body Workouts, Workouts, Workouts by Length

    Printed from GetHealthyU.com


    on Reply

    Thx for that fantastic post!

    on Reply

    Sometimes I really have so little time to train in the morning, so this training helps out. In general, I love training for 40-60 minutes, but in the morning my maximum is 20-30. I really like this workout as I really feel all my muscles when I exercise and it is very enjoyable. Thank you for sharing your workout, I will be waiting for your new posts with new workouts!

    on Reply

    Hi! I am starting this workout today. After a couple of years with my mom being sick and eventually passing, I wasn't taking care of myself. I need this! Thank you, Chris, for making workouts doable for folks like me. I'm not intimidated and that is a huge hurdle for me. With these types of workouts, and the modifications you make available, starting and staying with a workout is so much more possible, leading to better health. I want to live a long healthy life chasing my grandkids and enjoying time with my husband! Thank you!

    on Reply

    I'm just getting back into strength training post baby #2 and love this quick, easy, but effective workout. It's a struggle to come up with my own workouts on a regular basis so getting some great ideas like this is always so helpful. I'll be adding this to my routine. Thanks so much for the ideas!

      on Reply

      Hi Tiffany - So happy to hear that you are enjoying this quick but effective workout! And congratulations on Baby #2! Take a peak at a few of our other workouts for post baby to see if there is anything else you want to add back into your strength training routine! You are amazing! https://gethealthyu.com/mom-and-baby-strength-workout/

    on Reply

    On average, how many calories do you think this workout burns for someone who is 5'2' and 177lbs.?

    on Reply

    Hi Chris, Because of an elbow injury l am currently unable to do push-ups. Is there an alternate exercise l can do?

      on Reply

      Hi Barb - absolutely understandable. Are you able to do a Chest Fly or a Chest Press with Dumbbells? These movements are using muscle groups that are the same as what you would using during push-ups!

    on Reply

    Hi there how many times a week should i do this thanks

      on Reply

      Hi Louis - This is a great question. You can do this as many or as little times a week as your body will allow. There is no set number as to how many times you can do this workout. However, I always like to tell people to mix up your workouts between strength based workouts and cardio based workouts. So it might be good to start out doing strength and cardio workouts every other day and see how you feel. Maybe starting with doing this about 2 or 3 days a week. Making sure that you also take some rest days to allow your body to rebuild after your workouts!

    (This will help us personalize your experience so that you can get the best advice possible from us!)
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