Active Lifestyles: A 20-minute workout – No excuses

Hayley Blackburn

Between classes, study groups, beers at the Skellar and work, sometimes it feels like there is simply no time to hit the gym. To be honest, this is a lie. Of course, I don’t hit the gym EVERY DAY. Sometimes I blame it on my schedule being “too busy,” but by the time the sun sets every night, there were 20 minutes that could have been used to work out. One quick workout takes up less than 2% of your entire day, so, of course, there is time to get in a little activity and exercise — it just takes a clear plan on efficiency.

When I feel the responsibilities of the day starting to box me in, I push back with my 20-minute express workout. This gym workout takes a total body approach that fits in a small window of time. Although I cannot rely on this work out regularly to achieve my goals, a short workout is 100% better than no workout.


Hayley’s Super Express Workout

The first tip to getting in and out of the gym quickly is being prepared. Have a clear game plan and be flexible when machines are inevitably taken. You don’t need to go in order for these exercises, so scope out what machines and spaces are available to help you move through the plan quickly.

The weights listed are what I use to workout. Adjust as necessary. Use a weight that is difficult to get through all the reps (around 8 I start getting tired), but not so heavy as to hurt yourself.

Hayley Shoulder Press.jpg
Begin with the weights at your shoulders and push upwards. (Hayley Blackburn | Collegian)

50 jumping jacks and 20 jumping lunges

When you first arrive at the gym, take a moment to warm up and get your blood pumping. The key to a productive, short workout is keeping your heart up elevated throughout the process. Whenever you start to feel like you have caught your breath too much, do another quick set of jumping lunges (plus, they are good for the booty).

Shoulder Press – 17.5 lb dumbbells: 3 sets of 10

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your elbows out. You should have a dumbbell in each hand— then push it straight past your ears to the sky. In a slow, controlled motion, bring the dumbbells back to your shoulders.

Hayley Sumo Squat
Holding the kettle bell, squat back like you are about to sit in a chair. (Hayley Blackburn | Collegian)

Sumo Squats – 50lb kettle bell: 2 sets of 12

Make sure you keep your abs tight, back straight and push through your heels. Never let your knees cross over your toes. These are my favorite because I feel my legs and my bum working hard.

Bicep curls – 20lb dumbbell: 2 sets of 10

These can be done sitting or standing. I prefer to sit on a bench because I can focus on isolating my bicep. Hang your arm on your inner thigh with your elbow just below your knee. Slowly bring the weight toward your face and back down to the floor.

Lawn mowers—35lb dumbbell: 2 sets of 12

I am wearing a backless wedding dress next summer, so I do these on the regular because lawn mowers help tone your back muscles. Post with one arm and one leg on the bench with your outside leg on the floor for support. Bring the weight straight up toward your chest and then back down to the floor. Focus on squeezing your shoulder blades and back.

Pull the weight up toward your chest as if you were starting a lawn-mower. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

This quick workout hits your arms and legs so that you get a total body pump in a short amount of time. Adjust the weights to your own needs and hit the gym. This week I challenge you to at least 1 workout before Sunday night. Find 20 minutes and get your blood pumping!

Collegian writer Hayley Blackburn can be reached at or on Twitter @hayley_blckbrn. If you have a specific question or topic, let her know. Leave a comment!