The 20-Minute Bodyweight Circuit You Can Do Anywhere

By Kevin Donahue |

Everyone needs a go-to, no-excuses routine that combines cardio, strength, and mobility moves. Make this yours.

bodyweight circuit

Is it just us, or does fitness get more complicated as we get older?

You need cardio for a healthy heart. The human heart has a tendency to weaken and stiffen over time. That makes it harder to send life-giving blood, oxygen, and nutrients throughout your whole body.

You also need strength training and mobility exercises to maintain as much muscle and range of motion as possible. You tend to naturally lose both with age, making it harder to move around on your own.

“If we don’t work at it, we literally lose touch with our bodies,” says Dan John, a fitness expert and author of Now What? The Ongoing Pursuit of Improved Performance.

Sure, you could concentrate on each of these areas—cardio, strength, mobility—with separate workouts if you want.

But if you’d much rather work on them at the same time with one speedy routine that you don’t have to overthink, this 20-minute bodyweight circuit is for you.

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How the 20-Minute Bodyweight Circuit Works

This workout is based on John’s “30/30 for 30” program. He recommends rotating four bodyweight exercises with 30 seconds of movement followed by 30 seconds of rest for a total of 30 minutes.

“People say the 30 seconds of rest are too much at the beginning,” John says. “But at the end, they can’t believe how quickly time goes by.”

This version follows the same pattern, but you’ll start with 20 minutes. Do the first exercise for 30 seconds, rest for 30 seconds, and move on to the next exercise. Continue for 20 minutes. For a challenge, work up to 30 minutes.

Here’s how to perform each movement. As always, safety is key. The exercises here may be different or more advanced than those you’ll experience in a SilverSneakers class. If you have a chronic condition, an injury, or balance issues, talk to your doctor about how you can exercise safely.

Bodyweight Exercise #1: Modified Seal Jack

Move for 30 seconds, rest for 30 seconds

How to do it: Stand with your feet together and arms straight out in front of you, palms touching.

With control, step one foot out to the side, and open your arms wide.

Still with control, step your foot back to center and close your arms to return to the starting position. Repeat on the opposite side. Continue for 30 seconds, or as long as you can with good form. Rest for 30 seconds, or longer if needed.

Make it harder: Do regular jumping jacks, or try one of these jumping jack alternatives.

Bodyweight Exercise #2: Squat

Move for 30 seconds, rest for 30 seconds

How to do it: Stand tall with your feet shoulder- to hip-width apart. Hold your arms straight out in front of you at shoulder level, and brace your core. This is your starting position.

From here, push your hips back, and bend your knees to slowly lower your body into a squat, not letting your knees cave in as you do so. Pause, then push through your heels to slowly return to the starting position. Continue for 30 seconds, or as long as you can with good form. Rest for 30 seconds, or longer if needed.

Make it easier: Start your squat from a seated position, push up as much as you comfortably can, and sit back down. Even if you can only push up a couple inches, you’ll build strength. Check out more tips in our beginner’s guide to the squat.

Bodyweight Exercise #3: March in Place

Move for 30 seconds, rest for 30 seconds

How to do it: Stand tall facing a wall, kitchen counter, or back of a sturdy chair, holding on for support if needed.

From here, raise one knee as high as you comfortably can, making sure not to tilt your trunk as you do so. Pause, then lower your leg to the starting position. Repeat on the opposite side. Continue for 30 seconds, or as long as you can with good form. Rest for 30 seconds, or longer if needed.

Make it easier: Sit down, and do a chair march.

Bodyweight Exercise #4: Incline Pushup

Move for 30 seconds, rest for 30 seconds

How to do it: Stand facing a bench, counter, or wall. The taller the object or the more upright you are, the easier the move. Place your hands on the edge of the bench or flat on the wall, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Move your feet back until you are at a comfortable angle, keeping your arms straight and perpendicular to your body.

Engage your core muscles for stability. Bend your elbows to slowly lower your chest toward the object, pause, and then press back up to straighten your arms. Continue for 30 seconds, or as long as you can with good form. Rest for 30 seconds, or longer if needed.

Make it easier: Try these form fixes that will make your pushups safer and more effective.

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