You only have 20 minutes to squeeze in a workout, but you want to get both strength and cardio benefits, so what do you do? The options are (1) you can tell yourself 20 minutes is not enough time for a decent workout, (2) you can lift like crazy for ten minutes, then run like crazy for 10 minutes, or (3) you can use circuit training, which can offer you strength and cardio benefits in a short period of time.

If you don’t have much time to workout, circuit training is a great way to switch up your workout. I also find this style of strength training is typically very appealing to women, because you don’t have to lift very heavy weights and the workouts don’t feel as much like traditional, bodybuilding type of strength training.

I have below a 20 minute full body circuit workout that you can give a try.

20 Minute Circuit Training Workout:

(repeat 3-4x, no rest between sets, 2-3 minutes in between each circuit)

Squat with DB Upright Row, 15 reps

20 Minute Full Body Circuit Training Workout

Reverse Lunge, 16 total reps

20 Minute Full Body Circuit Training Workout 2

Pushups, to failure

20 Minute Full Body Circuit Training Workout 3

Pullups, to failure (can also use lat pulldown)

20 Minute Full Body Circuit Training Workout 3

Medicine Ball Twists, 20 reps
I’m not using a medicine ball in the photo below, but a dumbbell as an alternative. Be careful with this exercise, you should not feel any pain in your lower back. Twist with your upper back and torso, not your lower back. An alternative is wood chops, or bicycles.

20 Minute Full Body Circuit Training Workout 4

For more details on this workout, some training tips, and easy to print workout sheets, check out this workout sheet below:

Circuit Training Workouts

Document Type: pdf, Size = 0.25MB

Download Now

Did you catch what exercise framework I’m using here? One of my first blog posts on was The Biggest Personal Training Secret is… about how personal trainers use a simple, yet effective framework that makes creating tons of dynamic workouts for clients a snap. So what’s the secret? To save the suspense if you haven’t read the article yet, many personal trainers use a methodology that incorporates 5 basic movements in each workout:

1) Squat
2) Lunge
3) Push
4) Pull
5) Twist

That’s the framework I used to create this workout. Pretty cool, huh?

Hope you enjoy the workout!



  1. profile avatar
    Dick Sheldon Sep 13, 2010 - 14:53 #

    Thanks for this workout suggestion. I probably will not do it all….but I at least got started!

  2. profile avatar
    Mary Sep 21, 2010 - 21:35 #

    I loved this workout. It is one I plan to do when on vacation or at conferences. It is a quick but good workout; gets me out of the gym quickly. The medicine ball twist took a little time to do, but I can now get my feet off the ground and maintain my balance while doing this segment. I also used a free weight.

  3. profile avatar
    Jason Oct 05, 2010 - 10:08 #

    Did three sets of this circuit last night– good workout!

    I’m putting in some long hours at the office right now and commuting from Westchester to Manhattan, so this’ll be a good way for me to get good strength and cardio workouts in during the week.

    Much appreciated!

    1. profile avatar
      Marc Perry Oct 05, 2010 - 13:38 #

      @Jason – Thanks for letting me know and I’m happy you enjoyed the workout. I look forward to adding more workouts soon!

  4. profile avatar
    Cookie K Dec 10, 2010 - 08:31 #

    I just finally downloaded this fabulous workout. It should be beneficial for the cold upcoming winter months when we are inside more. I also forwarded it to my daughter who just had a baby. Great postpartum workout that can be done between feedings!!! My inspiration Mary recommended this info and she looks fantastic.

    1. profile avatar
      Marc Perry Dec 10, 2010 - 13:41 #

      @Cookie K – Awesome! I’m happy you liked the workout.

  5. profile avatar
    kon Mar 30, 2012 - 19:12 #

    hey great workout but arent biceps left out as well as triceps?(even though they do get worked while doing pushups its not a tricep excercise)

  6. profile avatar
    Roshni Apr 17, 2012 - 03:38 #

    I just had a quick question. I created a work out similair to this and was wondering if this framework could extend – I created a circuit of the following :

    Quad exercise – Squat
    Hamstring ex – Hamstring roll on a ball
    Horizontal Push – Chest press
    Horizontal Pull – Seated row
    Glute – Lunge
    Quad – Plie squat
    Hamstring – hamstring roll on ball
    Vertical pull – lat pull down
    Vertical push – Shoulder press
    Glute – walking lunge

    Followed by core – Planks, Superman and reverse crunches..

    Would this fall into the category of this framework?

    1. profile avatar
      Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT Apr 23, 2012 - 09:50 #

      @Roshni – I think you are on the right track. What I would do is separate out the exercises into 2 circuits which you could complete 2x each, or just do one circuit as one workout and another circuit as another workout, but do them 3-4 cycles.

      Circuit 1:
      Quad exercise – Squat
      Hamstring ex – Hamstring roll on a ball
      Horizontal Push – Chest press
      Horizontal Pull – Seated row
      Glute – Lunge

      Circuit 2:
      Quad – Plie squat
      Hamstring – hamstring roll on ball
      Vertical pull – lat pull down
      Vertical push – Shoulder press
      Glute – walking lunge

      You don’t have to do every movement every workout.

  7. profile avatar
    Roshni Apr 23, 2012 - 12:34 #

    Thanks very much, Marc, for your feedback. Will do as you have suggested. Am hoping to get back into a decent level of fitness and of course, lose about ten-fifteen pounds.

  8. profile avatar
    Peter Jun 01, 2012 - 03:23 #

    Thank you for all the information you have shared in this web site, extremely useful. I’d like to do this circuit at home, as going to the gym and back is quite a hassle for me. The problem is that I cannot do a pull up or lat pull down at home because there’s no equipment. Is there any good pull exercises that we can do at home?

    1. profile avatar
      Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT Jun 03, 2012 - 17:16 #

      @Peter – Thanks for the kudos, Paul. My favorite pull exercises which you can do at home are:

      Pull ups – if you can do them and of course, you need a pull up bar. Pull ups, chin ups etc. are great. It’s one of the few exercise I do religiously once per week because there are so many variations.
      DB Rows – Single arm, double arm, you can even use different wrist positions as well.
      Resistance bands rows and TRX – these are other pieces of equipment that can help with pulling motion.
      Deadlift while not a true pulling motion, does isometrically stress the back/pulling muscles. Can be done with dumbbells.

      FYI, there are two types of pulling motions – (1) vertical pull and (2) horizontal pull. You want to do both types.

      1. profile avatar
        Peter Jun 03, 2012 - 21:45 #

        Thanks Marc. Shortly after I asked the question I discovered that there is something in the world called a pull up bar (from your other post about 7 fitness gifts) that can be installed at door frames and then I realized that I might have asked a stupid question.

        For 2 types of pulling motion, I think pull ups are vertical and the remaining you mentioned are horizontal, correct?

      2. profile avatar
        Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT Jun 07, 2012 - 09:43 #

        @Peter – That is correct.

  9. profile avatar
    esha Jun 13, 2012 - 04:54 #

    Hi Marc …read your workout suggestion…..they are pretty good….. I have put on about 10 kg weight.. I have been working out for five months about 5 to 6 times a week…with split workout schedule….I was ill twice during this period so took about 15 to 20 days as a break…… I eat six meals in a day with just salad and a slice of bread at night but havent lost much weight……including full bosy workout along with split on alternate days will helf me loose fat faster…please suggest.

    1. profile avatar
      Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT Jun 14, 2012 - 19:20 #

      Esha – if you have a 2 day split with 2 workouts per week, adding a full body workout may make sense, but if you have a split where you are lifting 3-4x per week, I don’t think a full body workout will move the needle. With that said, I’m a big fan of high intensity interval training for fat loss.

  10. profile avatar
    matt Jun 20, 2012 - 00:47 #

    hi i am at a begginer level and i was wondering what would be a good full body workout for me. i am not experienced with working out and i only need to gain muscle, can you help.

    1. profile avatar
      Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT Jun 21, 2012 - 14:23 #

      @Matt – I would start out with something similar to the workout I have in my Get Lean Guide, but try to use body weight exercises like push ups. I would also try to meet up with a knowledgeable trainer a few times to learn proper exercise form. It’s well worth the investment.

  11. profile avatar
    @mr_WDF Aug 13, 2012 - 06:59 #

    Hey I use this circuit as my lunch time gym workout once a week ( I do various other workout through the week)

    I was wondering are there alternatives to push ups and pull ups as they are apart of another workout during the week and I want to rest them on days when doing this circuit?

    1. profile avatar
      Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT Aug 16, 2012 - 07:42 #

      Just use exercises with the same movement patterns. Push ups are a horizontal pushing motion (think flat DB bench, Barbell Bench etc.) and pull ups are a vertical pulling motion (think resistance tubes). Also consider doing different variations of push ups and pull ups, which is personally what I do. You can use the search bar on the top right hand corner of the site to search for push up and pull up variations.

  12. profile avatar
    jazeb ehsan Aug 18, 2012 - 02:03 #

    Excellent! 🙂

  13. profile avatar
    David Aug 22, 2012 - 12:54 #

    Hello Marc.Can i do this circuit workout 3 or 2 times per week?If so which days do you recomend?Can i add some cardio in the week.Sorry for my english.

    1. profile avatar
      Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT Aug 23, 2012 - 10:03 #

      @David – You can do this circuit 2-3x per week, and ideally if you could separate each workout by one day, that would be ideal.

      1. profile avatar
        David Aug 28, 2012 - 07:49 #

        I need also a clarification about the fifth movement called Twist.Could you mention a few exercises?I already know the bicycles and ball twists.How about the bird dog or v-ups?

      2. profile avatar
        Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT Aug 30, 2012 - 16:33 #

        @David – twist, or rotational exercises are excellent to include into your routine, so I’m happy you are interested in them. A bird dog is called an “anti-rotation exercise”, meaning in order to stabalize yourself as you are doing it, you have to prevent your body from rotating. Some people will count that as a rotation exercise. A V-Up on the other hand is not a rotation exercise.

        Some of the best rotation exercises are a wood chop, or reverse woodchop, where you use a cable, or resistance band and pull down like sideways like you are chopping word. As you rotate, you are rotating your abs, shoulders, and hips. You can also do lunges with a twist as well. We’ll be adding more rotational exercises soon, so thanks for your question!

  14. profile avatar
    mahdi Jan 25, 2017 - 02:02 #

    Thank you for all the information you have shared in this web site i would like thanks you again and again i am doing your free work out i have got a lat of efficiency and also i have decrease my fat and building my muscles toward betterment i would like to help me in the way of free is it possible or no? it is around the six month i am using ur free program thank you Marc

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