20 Minute “No Sweat” Workout

weight train at home
Jan 26, 2016


Some of us are extremely busy and finding the necessary time to devote to working out can be a daunting task.

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Although we want to improve our health and fitness, it’s simply not the top priority it may have once been. Family and work commitments are now the top priorities and can easily take up the lion’s share of a person’s prime time during the waking hours. It’s because of this that and we sometimes have to be very creative when finding the time to fit in a work out.

For some, it’s almost impossible to find the time to get to a gym after work. Some may have to workout in the wee hours of the morning (like this person here) and if you really need your sleep, this option may not be the best one for you.

Others may have to try and fit in a workout during their work lunch hours which is the only realistic time to allocate to working out. On average, we have about 45 minutes to an hour for lunch. I recently stumbled onto the following question:

“We get a 45 minute lunch break at my job, and I'd like to start using some of that time to get some weight training in in our company fitness room, ideally 15-25 minutes. I'll have to eat during the break, too, so I don't think I'll have much time to change (business casual) or freshen up... For this reason, I am leaning toward a short weight training routine, as opposed to something like cardio (I get... "dewy" ha-ha). I've also seen pretty fast results in the past from doing some weight training, so I'd like to get back into it.

I am getting back into an every-other-day running schedule at home, and hopefully some yoga too, so the cardio and stretching aspects of things won't be entirely neglected. My coworkers and I just find ourselves with some extra time at the end of such a long (required) lunch break, so I'd like to use it well!

Generally, eating at my desk isn't an option. (I'm in an internal customer-facing role, so every time I've tried this, someone comes to see my right as I take a bite of my lunch.)

tldr; I have 15-25 minutes to use the fitness room during my lunch break. I don't want to have to change or get sweaty. What works for you? Or what recommendations do you have? Thanks!”

Based on this information, I can assume this person has access to basic weight training equipment such as dumbbells, barbells and benches. This person has about 20 minutes to perform a workout that:

1) Avoids strenuous exercise that causes her/him to perspire heavily;

2) Uses light to moderate weight;

3) Incorporates graduated and staggered intensity levels;

4) Incorporates a comfortable set and repetition scheme;

5) Uses a 5 day format;

5) Provides results

You may be wondering why we don’t want to use strenuous exercises for the workout. This person is working in the customer service industry so it’s a lot harder to cool down from high intensity exercises and depending on the body type, it can take anywhere from 10 minutes to 20 minutes to completely cool down. I’ve worked in customer service and I tried doing high intense workouts during my lunch hour. I’ll be honest with you, I’m a big time sweater and it takes me anywhere from 15 minutes to 20 minutes to cool down. It’s hard and embarrassing to deal with customers when sweat is running down the sides of your face!

Using this information, I can put together a simple 5 day routine which uses a combination of multi joint (body weight and weighted) exercises and single joint exercises which provides just enough intensity to stimulate muscle tone without taxing the central nervous system. This way, those of you who deal with customers after your lunch break can do so without sweating in front of your client.

Here is the training sequence:

Day 1 - Monday Upper Body
Day 2 - Tuesday
Lower Body
Day 3 - Wednesday
Stretching / Light Cardio
Day 4 - Thursday
Upper Body
Day 5 - Friday Lower Body
Day 6 - Saturday Rest
Day 7 - Sunday Rest

Monday: Upper body

Warm up: Run on spot for 2 to 5 minutes

Incline dumbbell bench press (chest, shoulders, and triceps): 2 x 12 reps

One arm dumbbell rows (back and biceps): 2 x 12 reps

Seated dumbbell shoulder press (shoulders and triceps): 2 x 12 reps

Standing barbell curls (biceps): 1 x 12 reps

Triceps kickbacks (triceps): 1 x 12 reps

Twists (abs and lower back): 1 x 25 reps

Tuesday: Lower body

Warm up: Run on spot for 2 to 5 minutes

Body squats (no weight) (lower back, thighs, and butt): 2 x 12 reps
Rest 50 seconds in between each set

Stair step ups (thighs, butt, lower back and hamstrings): 1 x 10 reps (each leg)

Light stiff leg dead lift (lower back, butt and hamstrings): 2 x 12 reps
Rest 50 seconds in between each set

Standing calf raise (calves): 1 x 12 reps (no weight)

Body Plank (abs): 2 x 8 to 12 second holds
Rest 50 seconds in between each set

Wednesday: Stretching and light cardio

Jumping jacks: 4 x 15 to 20 reps

5 to 10 minutes stretching:

Thursday: Upper body

Warm up: Run on spot for 2 to 5 minutes

Flat bench dumbbell fly (chest, shoulders and triceps): 2 x 12 reps
Rest 50 seconds in between each set

Lying barbell pull over (back, shoulders and triceps): 1 x 12 reps

Standing side dumbbell laterals (shoulders): 2 x 12 reps
Rest 50 seconds in between each set

Standing dumbbell curls (biceps): 1 x 12 reps

Triceps kickbacks (triceps): 1 x 12 reps

Friday: Lower body / Abs

Wall squat holds (thighs and butt): 2 x 5 to 7 second counts
Rest 50 seconds in between each set

Body lunges (thighs, butt and hamstrings): 1 x 10 to 12 reps

Butt bridge (butt and hamstrings): 2 x 12 reps
Rest 50 seconds in between each set

Standing calf raise (calves): 1 x 12 reps

Body Plank (abs): 2 x 8 to 12 second holds
Rest 50 seconds in between each set


Keep the weight (dumbbells) very light and only increase the weight once the repetitions become easy to perform. Bring one bottle of water with you and drink while you workout. Have a light lunch prior to working out (spring salad and lean meat for example).

Rest about 1 minute after each exercise and drink some water before proceeding.


Each upper and lower body workout should take about 15 to 20 minutes to complete. Wednesdays light cardio and stretching session should take about 10 to 15 minutes to complete.

This workout is designed to help provide body balance and stability while gradually increasing muscle strength and tone. It is very important that you understand that this is a very gradual progressive workout.

This workout is not designed to be super intense but provides just enough intensity to stimulate muscle tone and improved strength without “breaking the bank”.

This routine will work well for those of you who:

  • Are relative beginners;
  • Have limited time;
  • Who have jobs that interact closely with other people (IE: customer services reps or busy executives)
  • Looking for a stable and progressive routine
  • Interested in reaping the benefits of weight training

For a complete beginners program, see our weight training beginners system here.

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All the best,


As the owner of Building Muscle 101, I am committed to providing you the best practical weight training advice. I've been training for over 24 years (and still train to this day!) and the advice and guidance I provide comes directly from my experience and knowledge.

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