The First 20 Minutes Might be the Only 20 Minutes You’ll Need
December 18, 2014

You’ll look and feel naturally fit; you’ll be neither a hulking giant nor a sickly waif. It’s simple but infinitely variable. It can be done at any age. It doesn’t require equipment. It can be done in groups or alone and in almost any environment. It doesn’t cause injury, and takes little time. For these reasons, the 20-minute bodyweight workout just may be the king of fitness regimens.

Most health benefits come from the first 20 minutes of exercise.

This was the core principle behind Gretchen Reynold’s meticulously-researched book, The First 20 Minutes. Today’s sports research tells us that the greatest gains are found after just 20 minutes of exercise. In terms of overall health, exercising longer is optional and sometimes harmful.

Too little exercise – or too much – is bad for us.

People who exercise too little or too much have a higher risk of infection.

People who exercise too little or too much have a higher risk of infection. Source

Regular, moderate levels of exercise will boost your immune system. (Meditation, by the way, can boost the immune system even more.) But we get sick far more frequently when we’re sedentary and when we exercise too hard for too long. Too hard means intense exercising for over 40 minutes. This phenomenon is called the “J” curve of immunity, and it explains why people who exercise really hard so often endure bad skin and the sniffles.

Shorter bouts of exercise aren’t for everyone.

Despite the popularity of the 7-minute workout, these shorter bouts aren’t suitable for people with injuries or who carry excess weight because they involve lots of explosive movements like jumping lunges and burpees. For the arthritic, these movements can aggravate joint pain. For the overweight, just getting up from the ground can be a real challenge.

20-minute bodyweight workouts are the most sustainable.

You don't need gym attire.

You don’t need gym attire for a 20-min bodyweight workout.

Since bodyweight exercises can be done anywhere, one can do them all year round, at home, in the office, and while on the road. Compare this to any sport that’s equipment intensive or weather-dependent, and you’ll see that the 20-minute bodyweight exercise reigns as king of the fitness regimens.

You don’t need a full set of gym clothes to do a 20-minute routine. The only real change of clothes you may need for a good 20-minute workout is a t-shirt. Most people don’t sweat profusely during the Power 20 workouts, especially during the legs and core routines.

Bodyweight exercises minimize injury.

Unlike team sports, 20-minute bodyweight workouts don’t involve high-velocity collisions. They also avoid the chronic tendon and ligament injuries found in weight lifting. There are bodyweight routines for people in all conditions of health, including the obese, elderly, and injured. Power 20 offers a Beginners Workout with levels appropriate for people with limited mobility.

20-minute workouts are part of an active lifestyle.

Exercise is part of an active lifestyle, but does not in itself define an active lifestyle. In fact, many of us are active couch-potatoes because we exercise for 30 minutes in a day, but then spend the rest of the day sedentary. Ideally, we should stay active throughout the day by standing up every 20 minutes (or consider standing all day), walking more and generally sitting and driving less.

The reigning champion of fitness: the 20-minute bodyweight workout.

Compared to running, weight lifting, swimming, team sports, martial arts, CrossFit and Zumba, the 20-minute bodyweight workout is superior in terms of safety, convenience, cost, access, and sustainability.