The 10 Best 20-Minute At-Home Workouts to Build Muscle Fast

Nick Carrier / Sam Carbi

Nick Carrier cracked the code to achieving our fitness goals. It wasn’t about specific meals for his clients or crafting the perfect series of exercises (although the 25-year-old lifestyle entrepreneur, Orangetheory trainer, and host of the Nick Carrier’s Best You Podcast has plenty of theories about it). No, when it comes to the success of the men and women he trains to lose weight, build muscle, and develop healthy lifestyle habits, it always depends on the goals they set first.

“The moment someone feels like they’re falling behind, and they’re not making the progress on a pace that they need to be, they quit,” Carrier said. “Being able to make a goal that is both worthy and winnable is huge.”

Those two words, worthy and winnable, are the crux, he explains, defining the former as a goal that is meaningful to you and the latter, something that you know you can accomplish. It’s moving away from the “get in shape” and “lose weight”-type ambiguity and toward tangible, measurable benchmarks, like 35 push-ups in a minute, running a seven-minute mile, or dropping a specific amount of weight over a specific amount of time. “It’s very much about them having a clear goal,” Carrier explained. “Engagement comes from progress.”

Carrier’s “Best You 10 Week Fitness Goal-Setting Program,” which was launched to clients last Jan. 1, begins with these goals before it ever assigns a workout. And so should you. While his best 20-minute at-home workouts require little or no at-home gym equipment, they’re still the second step. Grab a notebook and pen, take down notes and some numbers that make sense, and begin your fitness journey with these lessons this summer. Seeing your progress is a surefire way to keep you on the right track when distractions loom and any little thing can potentially knock you off the wagon.

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“20-Minute Bodyweight Workout with Nick”

Carrier already has this one filmed and ready to go for when it’s workout-o’clock. Requiring no equipment (although a high-quality yoga mat can make it more comfortable), it’s a great first session when you’re still waiting for your gear to arrive from Amazon Prime.

First, start with an easy warmup:

  1. 30-second hamstring stretch
  2. 30-second alternating lateral stretch
  3. One-minute alternating plank birddogs
  4. 30-second bear plank shoulder taps
  5. 30-second plank-to-pike

Give yourself 30 seconds to rest, then 45-second intervals of:

  1. Alternating reverse lunges (add jump for difficulty)
  2. Jumping jacks
  3. Body-weight squats (add jump for difficulty)

Repeat the above for three rounds, then 30-second intervals of:

  1. Kneeling pushups
  2. Mountain climbers
  3. 30-second rest

Into 30-second intervals of:

  1. Straight-leg scissors
  2. Straight-leg raises
  3. 30 second rest

Repeat the pushup and abs sections for three rounds.

“Push-up Destroyer”

Fitbit

Developing strength and endurance in your core, chest, and triceps (along with a host of other stabilizer muscles), they’ll see you coming after a few weeks of this.

With a partner:

  • You do one pushup, then your partner does one pushup
  • You do two pushups, then your partner does two pushups
  • Ascending to 10, repeating 10 twice
  • Descend to one
  • If no partner, rest the equivalent amount of time between reps

Then, four rounds of:

  • Plank walkups of 15, 12, 10, and 8 reps
  • Plank shoulder taps of 30, 24, 20, and 16 reps

Finally, repeat the first half of the workout, but peak at five reps twice before descending.

“Leg Shredder”

Fitbit

Your legs may feel like jelly after this lower body destroyer, but they’ll end up looking like they’re carved out of wood. Start with a five-minute easy run for warmup, then five descending rounds of:

  • Body-weight squats (100/80/60/40/20)
  • Pulsing squats
  • Walking lunges
  • 45-second wall-sit

Finish with a five-minute run for distance. Treadmills, tracks, or just around the block all work well.

Read more: Leg Workouts for Sculpted Calves

“Ab Creator”

Fitbit

And on the eighth day, Carrier created your abs thanks to this core-centric banger. For four rounds:

  • One minute, burpees
  • One minute, plank hold
  • One minute, bicycle crunches
  • One minute, straight leg raises
  • One minute, rest

Read more: Core-Strengthening Ab Workouts

“Full Body”

This full-body grinder will wear you down to a nub. Cut down a rep for each of the 10 rounds, starting with:

  • Dumbbell full thrusters (10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1)
  • Jump squats (10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1)
  • V-ups (10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1)

Followed by five rounds of:

  • Dumbbell triceps kickbacks, 10 reps
  • Body-weight pulsing squats, 30 reps
  • Mountain climbers, 50 total

“Calorie Burner”

Fitbit

In case your guilt is at an all-time high after too many feasts, then hammer out this punishing sequence. After a five-minute warmup run, launch into:

  • Pulsing squats, 100 reps
  • Walking lunges, 40 reps
  • Body-weight squats, 100 reps
  • Wall-sit, 30 seconds
  • Plank jacks, 50 reps
  • Jump lunges, 20 total reps
  • Mountain climbers, 50 total reps
  • Plank shoulder taps,  50 total reps
  • Wall-sit, 30 seconds

“Cardio Tester”

Fitbit

Fire up those lungs with this breath-buster. Repeat for two rounds with two minutes of rest between. Start with:

  • Jump squats, 10 reps
  • Bench hop-overs, 20 total reps
  • Pushups, 30 reps
  • Plank jacks, 40 reps
  • Mountain climbers, 50 reps total
  • Plank jacks, 40 reps
  • Pushups, 30 reps
  • Bench hop-overs, 20 reps total
  • Jump squats, 10 reps

“Arms”

Fitbit

Invite your friends and family to the gun show with this extremity builder. Complete three rounds of:

  • Pushups, 30 seconds
  • Rest 15 seconds
  • Dumbbell bicep curls, 30 seconds
  • Rest 15 seconds
  • Plank hold, 30 seconds
  • Rest 15 seconds
  • Jumping Jacks, 30 seconds
  • Dumbbell overhead triceps extension, 30 seconds
  • Rest 15 seconds
  • Dumbbell hammer curls,  30 seconds
  • Rest 15 seconds
  • Mountain climbers, 30 seconds
  • Rest 15 seconds

Read more: Powerful Arm Workouts for Men

“Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop”

Fitbit

Blending into a pleasant hum of constant movement, this burpee-centered workout flies by quickly thanks to cut-down reps and a mere two minutes of rest. Perform two rounds of this 10-minute EMOM (Every Minute On the Minute):

  • Nine burpees to five V-ups
  • Eight burpees to 10 straight-leg raise
  • Seven burpees to 15 plank jacks
  • Six burpees to 20 total bicycle crunches
  • Five burpees to 25 bench hop-overs
  • Four burpees to 30 total scissors
  • Three burpees to 35 body-weight squats
  • Two burpees to 45 mountain climbers
  • One burpee to plank hold until time
  • Rest one minute

“Return of the 20-Minute Body-Weight Workout With Nick”

A great full-body workout that builds plenty of strength while burning plenty of calories.

First, start with an easy warmup:

  • 30-second hamstring stretch
  • 30-second alternating lateral stretch
  • One-minute alternating plank birddogs
  • 30-second bear plank shoulder taps
  • 30-second plank-to-pike

Next, you’ll start the workout, with 40 seconds of the exercise and 20 seconds rest over three rounds of:

  • Two leg raises into six-leg scissors
  • Four shoulder taps into two pushups
  • Six high-knees into two body-weight squats

For the second half of the workout, you’ll be moving for 30 seconds, with a 15-second rest, for three rounds of:

  • Russian twists
  • Bicycle crunches
  • Mountain climbers

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