Spending hours upon hours in a gym or elsewhere, sweating, hoping to have some measurable results. Most people would admit that they've tried exercising for some length of time but got frustrated by their lack of results and by the time they spent trying to get some favorable results. Exercise is definitely an investment of time and if you are not seeing results or your results have stalled, it is easy to justify giving up your valuable time in order to be productive in another area of your life.

If you have given up spending hours upon hours exercising or if you're getting frustrated and thinking about investing your time elsewhere, first consider whether or not you have just 20 minutes that you can invest in your health. Not 45 minutes, an hour, or an hour-and-a-half. Just 20 minutes.

You can get a quality workout in just 20 minutes and you don't have to spend hours sweating in order to see results. It's not always about quantity but more about quality.

Quality Instead of Quantity

In order to get a short and quality workout, you need to do one that is high in intensity. Although high intensity workouts have been the buzz for several years, I don't think that the majority of people had a good standard of how to do a high intensity workout.

I came across a standard for doing a high intensity workout that makes it easy to remember and is effective. Dr. Joseph Mercola coined this workout "Peak 8" since it has 8 high intensity peaks.

Here's the details of how it works:

  • Warm up for 3 minutes (or as long as you need to)
  • Exercise at your maximum for 30 seconds
  • Recover for 90 seconds
  • Repeat 7 more times, totaling 8 high intensity bursts
  • This will equal 20 minutes of total exercise with just four minutes of maximum, high intensity bursts
  • A cool-down is definitely recommended for a couple of minutes, or until your heart rate is 120 bpm or less
* My personal tips:

  • When warming up, it is worth it to warm up longer than shorter. If your warm-up is not long enough, you will be more prone to pulled muscles, strains, shin splints, etc. When I do these workouts, I usually warm up at least 5 minutes (which makes it slightly longer than the 20 minute total).
  • The cool-down as well as post-workout stretching can help to prevent or minimize sore muscles.

How Will I Feel?

You're probably wondering what to expect as far as how you will feel after one of these work-outs. You will feel as if you exercised out all the stresses, drama, frustrations, and worries of the day or week. You will feel tired physically but oddly energized.

Besides feeling spent, your muscles will most likely feel wobbly and like jell-o. Depending on the types of activity you've been doing, your muscles may be sore for a day or two. But, you will also feel a sense of accomplishment at pushing yourself and making it.

One tip that I learned is that if you finish a workout and instantly know you will be very sore, take a bath with epsom salts that evening or whenever is convenient. It will help to take some of the soreness out so that you are not as sore as you would've been. Of course, there is always Advil or Motrin as well.

But, remember that sore muscles mean that your muscles are growing and getting stronger, so it is a good thing to be sore. The saying 'no pain, no gain' is actually right when it comes to building muscles!

Words of Caution

While doing this exercise, you will want to be cautious since you will be going at fast speeds and do not want to get injured. If you're doing this workout outside, choose a good place to run where you will not trip and fall. If doing it on a machine, an elliptical or bike may be safer since you can stop in an instant, opposed to a treadmill that you have to slow down gradually.

It is also suggested that you use a heart rate monitor while doing any type of intense workout. You should calculate your maximum heart rate and try to get to that level for the high intensity segments. To calculate your maximum heart rate, the plug in your numbers to the equation below.

220 – your age = maximum heart rate
example for a 30 year old: 220 – 30 = 190 bpm (beats per minute)

Now, this maximum heart rate is just a starting point. Your actual maximum may be higher or lower depending on your current fitness level and other health factors. You can always consult your physician to ask them what heart rate they suggest using as a maximum.

But, ultimately, you need to listen to your body. If you feel like you are pushing yourself too hard, just back off a little bit until the pace feels good. It should be a pace that challenges you, but you should not feel bad.

How Often?

You will not want to do the high intensity workout every day. You want to alternate the types of workouts you are doing. You might need a day of rest after a high intensity day, or you might do a day of cardio that is normal intensity. It is a good idea to mix in some wieght lifting, or straight training, as well. Your soreness, work and personal schedules, etc. will determine what your workout schedule may look like. Below is an example of what a schedule may look like.

Monday- high intensity day
Tuesday- cardio day (walk, bike, swim, play, whatever activity you enjoy)
Wednesday- strength day- legs
Thursday- stretching
Friday- high intensity day
Saturday- strength day- arms and abs
Sunday- rest or just play

You may find that one high intensity day is enough each week or you may want two. You might want more strength training. It all depends on what you've already been doing, what types of exercise you enjoy, and what will keep you motivated to keep going.


Remember that the goal is to be healthy, keep your body and heart young, and feel good. Your exercise schedule is not going to look the same as someone else. But, if you can be consistent and build in some high intensity days into your workouts, you will see results. You will enjoy the challenge and the feeling afterwards.

Wishing all of my readers a young heart and body ~ fitmom