Whether you're a busy career woman, a do-it-all mom, or just busy, period, fitting in a full-body workout on a regular basis can be difficult. After all, you don't have an hour to spare sweating it out on the treadmill or lifting, right?

Here's where that argument falls short: Even a short, 20-minute workout can make an impact if you choose the right moves and sequence them efficiently. When time is of the essence, your best bet is to utilize compound movements that strengthen multiple parts of the body in a single exercise.

Rock through this quick, heart-pumping workout on days when you only have a few minutes to spare. If you go into this session focused and ready to work, you'll see the results you want. Just remember to make up for the lack of time with maximum effort! In one short workout, you'll get your heart rate up and feel the good burn in your legs, core, arms, and more.

How to do this workout

Perform the movements as a circuit, performing a set of one movement before moving on to the next. Do 12 reps of each movement, resting as little as possible between them. Then rest 1-2 minutes, and perform another round. Do 2-3 rounds total, using light dumbbells. For beginners, 3-5 pounds might be enough. More experienced lifters can aim for 5, 10, or even 15 pounds.

Skinny Mom's Technique Notes

Squat with Triceps Extension

Kick your squats up a notch by adding an overhead press to target the triceps. Squat as deep as you can comfortably for maximum burn, but keep your heels on the ground!

  1. Hold a dumbbell over your head with both hands, with your elbows pointing forward and nearly squeezing the sides of your head. Your feet should be around shoulder-width apart or slightly wider as you drop down into your squat.
  2. At the same time you drop into the squat, lower the dumbbell behind your head. If you're looking in the mirror, drop the weight low enough so you can't see it.
  3. Exhale, and drive out of the squat with your heels as you extend the weight overhead, completing the triceps extension. Inhale and repeat.

Reverse Lunge with Press

Work your glutes and quads with each lunge and sculpt sexy shoulders by adding an overhead press at the top of each rep. The reverse-lunge portion of this movement has two benefits: It puts less stress on your knees than a forward lunge, and it allows you to distribute your weight in a slower, fluid motion that makes it easier to balance. Because this move requires lunging back on one leg, complete 12 reps on each side for a total of 24 reverse lunges.

  1. Grab a pair of dumbbells and hold them over your shoulders, elbows dropped, and palms forward. Step straight back into a reverse lunge so that your knees both create 90-degree bends. Get your back knee as close to the ground as possible. Keep your chest lifted.
  2. Exhale and push out of the lunge, bringing your back leg forward into a knee lift. At the same exact time, press the weights overhead. Brace your abs to help you balance.

Deadlift with Upright Row

The key to performing this exercise with good form is keeping your back straight or slightly arched throughout the movement. Send your booty back as you lower the weights. Stop when your dumbbells reach knee level and feel a stretch during the hamstrings.

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding the dumbbells against your thighs. Lift your chest and keep your knees soft.
  2. Hinge at your hips, pushing them back behind your heels. The weights will slide against your legs on the way down. Drop your torso with a straight or slightly-arched back. Go as low as you can without rounding your back.
  3. Push through your heels and squeeze your glutes as you lift up to a standing position. Once you're standing, immediately pull the weights up to your chest. Don't let your hands go higher than your shoulders. Then, drop the weights to your thighs again and repeat.

Chest Press with Leg Raise

Strengthen that core without a single crunch! Rather than using your quads to drive your legs up, you'll use your core to lift them in a slow, controlled manner. Beginners can modify this movement by bending their knees and putting their feet on the floor to begin, then lifting them into a tabletop position instead of a full extension. Adding a chest press along with each leg raise will give a little attention to the chest, an area often forgotten and underworked for women.

  1. Grab a pair of dumbbells, and lie on your back with your feet together. Bend the elbows out to the sides at a 90-degree angle, and hold a dumbbell in each hand.
  2. Exhale, and press the weights straight up, extending from the shoulders. At the same time, press your lower back into the floor as you lift your legs over your hips.

Push-up with Renegade Row

Keep your core engaged throughout this exercise for another surprising ab workout! Your arms, back, and shoulders will also feel the burn after holding the plank position and lifting each arm for 12 reps. If you find this exercise too difficult, drop to your knees and reduce the weight.

  1. Get in the top position of a push-up with your hands grasping the handles of two dumbbells.
  2. Lower your body to the floor, pause, then push yourself back up.
  3. Once you're back in the starting plank position, pull the weight in your right hand upward, bending at the elbow. Try to graze your right side when you "row" the dumbbell up, keeping your elbow straight and hips level.
  4. Pause, lower the dumbbell back down, and repeat the same movement with your left arm. That's one repetition.


Burpees may be a dreaded move, but they're insanely effective at getting your heart pumping while strengthening multiple muscle groups! If you're new to working out or need to relieve knee pressure, step back one foot at a time into the push-up plank position rather than hopping both feet back simultaneously.

Up for an added challenge? From push-up position, lower your body until your chest nearly touches the floor, with your elbows tucked close to your body. Pause in that lower position for a second, then push back up, jump up, and repeat for reps.

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your arms by your sides. Bend your knees and squat down, placing your hands firmly on the floor.
  2. Jump your feet back to come into a high plank with straight arms and legs.
  3. Jump both feet forward to your hands.
  4. From your crouching position, jump up with hands above your head. That is one rep.

About the Author

Brooke Griffin

Brooke Griffin

Brooke Griffin is the CEO and founder of Skinny Mom and author of the best-selling cookbook, ''Skinny Suppers.''

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