Time-Pressed: 20-Minute Upper-Body Workout

Posted On Oct 10, 2014 By Tim Arndt, Resistance Training Specialist

Time-Pressed: 20 Minute Upper Body Workout Routine

Yesterday, I was really low on time and desperately needed to get a workout in.

It was about 10 o’clock at night. Naturally, I considered bagging it for the day and trying to fit it in the next day. The problem is that I’ve been saying that a lot lately, “I’ll do it tomorrow.”

Then I thought, “You know what? I bought these Bowflex® SelectTech® Dumbbells for two reasons: convenience and to save time. Stop making excuses and go use it!” So I did.

However, I still didn’t have much time. My workout needed to be rather quick, but I also wanted to make sure I worked my entire upper body.

The following upper-body workout took me just 20 minutes to complete. It works the chest, shoulders, back and arms. I also threw in a quick circuit to get some cardiovascular conditioning in.

Exercise Sets Reps Rest
Chest Press 3 10-12 60 sec
1 Arm Lat Row 3 10-12 each 60 sec
Shoulder Press 3 10-12 60 sec

Perform this like a normal workout. Complete all sets of each exercise before moving on to the next, taking 60 seconds of rest between each set.

Once completed, I took about a 2-minute rest and moved to the following circuit.

Exercise Sets Reps Rest
Push-Ups 3 To exhaustion <30 sec
1 Arm Clean & Press 3 10 each <30 sec
Plank 3 30 sec <30 sec

Perform this like a typical resistance training circuit program. Complete one set of an exercise and then move on to the next exercise. For example, complete one set of push-ups to exhaustion, then move to the 1-arm clean & press within 30 seconds and so on.

A couple key factors that make this workout successful is to use the heaviest weight possible (that you can also control) on every exercise. This will keep you within the designated rep range and help you stick to the rest times. Additionally, heavier weights will ensure you get proper stimulus to your muscles and keep your workout time to less than 20 minutes.

I used my Bowflex® SelectTechs and did this at home, but you can also replicate this at the gym when you’re pressed for time. Now, try my 20-minute lower body workout.