20-minute cardio, core and strength workout

This post is sponsored by The Quaker Oat Company, but all opinions are my own.

I have a couple of goals I’m trying to implement over the next few months. Some of them are larger, like setting up a new newsletter system for the blog, and others are small but could make a huge impact, like waking up 15-20 minutes earlier. I’m guilty of sleeping until the last.possible.second, but I can’t help wonder how much more peaceful the morning would be if I had a few minutes prior to the before-school insanity. 

Quaker overnight oats

We have our routine pretty set, and these are some of the tricks that have helped minimize the craziness. I plan out our outfits the night before, pack lunches/snacks in advance, and stick to breakfast options that can be made in 10 minutes or less. I’m a huge fan of freezing batches of pancakes for the girls, making egg casseroles/muffins, and am loving these new Quaker Overnight Oats. When these appeared on grocery store shelves -they’re super easy to find- I was excited to try them out, and they’ve been a staple ever since.  

Quaker Overnight Oats

Some of my favorite things about them:

-They’re 100% whole grain oats and other grains – made with a blend of oats, quinoa, flaxseed, fruit and nuts

-They’re free of artificial flavors and contain no added colors

-You can prep them in less than 5 minutes. Just add your dairy or non-dairy milk of choice, stir, and cold-steep overnight in the fridge, and eat the next morning!

Quaker Overnight Oats 
I’ll usually eat one of these while I make the girls their breakfast, and we’re all ready to go at the same time. I feel like it’s given me more time in the morning, and I think if I start to wake up earlier, I’ll be able to meditate for a few minutes, get dressed, or even catch a quick workout.

I LOVE working out in the mornings, but it’s been harder for me to stick to since we’ve had babies. (<— I’ll take sleep whenever I can get it!) At the same time, a morning workout energizes me for the entire day.

20 minute workout you can do anywhere! Get cardio, strength, core and stretching in 20 minutes with a pair of dumbbells. fitnessista.com

It feels so good to start the day with a short sweat, and I consider exercise to be a moving meditation: it gives me focus and energy.

Even if I could get in a quick workout and stretch before the girls wake up, I know it would be a positive change in my routine.

Here’s a quick 20-minute workout I put together for whenever we can sneak it in! Whether you do it midday, early morning before starting the usual routine, or before bed, it’s a solid combo of strength, core work, HIIT training and stretching. 

20 minute workout you can do anywhere! Get cardio, strength, core and stretching in 20 minutes with a pair of dumbbells. fitnessista.com #20minuteworkout #quickworkout

Form cues and tips:

5 minutes strength (1 min each):

Squat press: Holding a pair of dumbbells, keep your chest lifted and your weight in your heels as you squat down and back. Exhale and squeeze your booty to rise, and perform an overhead press at the top.

Curtsy lunge with biceps curl (each side 1 minute): Start with one leg forward, and toes angled out 45 degrees. Step your other foot totally back behind the front, so that your foot is behind the opposite shoulder. Sink low into a curtsy lunge, them as you exhale, come into a biceps curl. 

Row to triceps extension: Start with a flat back and long neck, holding the weights in line with your shoulders. Exhale to squeeze your backs, bending your arms in towards your torso. Squeeze your triceps to extend the weights behind you. Lower down with control to repeat. 

Chest press with leg raise: Start in a supine position with your shoulders pressing into the floor, a tight core and feet hip distance apart. Take a wide grip on the barbell. As you lower it down towards mid chest, your elbows will come wide (90 degree angle) and stop in line with your torso. As you exhale to press the barbell back up, lift your legs off the floor, maintaining the same 90 degree angle with your legs. Gently lower your legs down as the weight comes back down. 

5 min cardio (45 seconds work, 15 seconds rest x 5 exercises):

Squat jumps: Get into a squat position (booty LOW and back), and touch the floor. Keep your abs engaged and chest lifted. Powering through your heels, spring up, reaching your arms towards the ceiling. Land with a soft knee. Repeat.

High knees: You can either jog in place, march in place, or quickly hop and bring each knee up towards your chest.

Squat jack with floor tap: Jump or walk out into a low squat and tap one hand to the floor. Walk or jump your feet back to center, and exhale to land back in a low squat, tapping the opposite hand to the floor. 

Sumo squat side kick (each side for 1 minute total): Start in a low plie squat. Step or hop one leg back to the center as you kick the opposite leg out. Engage your glutes and core to press the leg out to the side. 

5 min core and glutes (1 min each):

Deadlift: Hold a barbell, pair of dumbbells, or kettlebell, and tap one leg behind you. You can keep it here, with the weight in your front foot as you tilt forward, bringing the weights just below the knees. Exhale and rise with a flat back. For more advanced variations, you can float this top foot off the floor. Make sure to keep hips parallel to the floor. 

Squat: Sit your hips back and down, keeping a tight core and lifted chest. Make sure to keep your weight in your heels. Hold a pair of heavy dumbbells and be sure to keep your chest lifted.

Warrior 3 extension in and out (30 seconds each side): Start standing, and using your core, bent one knee up to hip heights. As you tilt forward, keep your back straight as you extend the same leg behind you. Flex your foot and keep your hips parallel to the floor. Inhale to bring your weights in towards your torso, and your floating leg in towards your chest. Exhale to extend your arms and top leg back out to repeat.

Plank: Make sure that your body is in one straight line from your head, all the way back through your knees or toes (depending on whether you’re modifying). If you’re on your toes, press back through your heels, and no matter what, keep your hips in line with your spine. Tilt your chin away from your chest so your neck stays long, and take some nice deep breaths.

Superman with back squeeze: Start on your stomach with arms extended. Inhale to lift your arms and legs off the floor, and exhale to bend your arms back, squeezing your back muscles. Extend the arms again (inhale) and exhale to lower down and repeat. After 10 reps, hold the superman for 30 seconds. (Pregnancy modification: do spinal balance on hands and knees, 10 times each side, then cat/cow stretches for 30 seconds.) 

5 minute stretching (30 seconds each side):

Standing hip flexor stretch: Start standing with feet hip’s distance apart. Step one foot back and come up onto your back toes. Carefully lower the back knee down. You can stay right here to stretch out your quadriceps and hip flexors, or if you want more, take one arm overhead (whichever leg is BACK use the same arm) and reach up and over. Hold and breathe for about 15-20 seconds before repeating on the other side.

Calf stretch: Press into the back heel and keep the front knee stacked over your front toes.

Supine figure 4: Make sure to flex the top foot to protect your knee.

Spinal twist: Keep both shoulders pressing into the floor as you twist.

Child’s pose: Breathe and give yourself a mental high five for working so hard!

Please let me know if you give it a try!

What’s your favorite make-ahead breakfast option? If you had 20 extra minutes in the day, what would you do?



Photos: Lindsay Colson

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  1. Bethany on October 31, 2017 at 7:22 am

    I love these! I never feel like I am doing the superman correct.

  2. Cassie on October 31, 2017 at 7:32 am

    My hubs wakes at 530am to get ready for work. So I go ahead and roll out of bed around then, giving me about an hour and a half to myself. I read, drink my coffee, journal, plan, and meditate. I have to do my wworkouts after I put the little one to bed so I that I don’t overextend my energy levels for the day. Happy halloween!

  3. Colleen on October 31, 2017 at 8:53 am

    I don’t have kids yet, so I totally understand that it must be way tougher to have 20 extra minutes to yourself in the mornings. I used to sleep in til the last possible second, but when I started dating my boyfriend, who is naturally a morning person, my entire routine shifted and I am loving it! We both wake up early enough to have what we call “coffee cuddle time” – we can drink coffee together in bed & just talk before beginning the hustle and bustle of getting ready for work, packing lunches, etc. It’s really nice because it allows us to bond before we both have to leave for the day!

  4. Megan @ Skinny Fitalicious on October 31, 2017 at 10:13 am

    I don’t have kids either, but I do have a boyfriend who’s like having a big kid and needs me every morning. 🙂

  5. Emily @ Pizza & Pull-Ups on October 31, 2017 at 10:21 am

    Good luck getting up earlier, it can be tough to get started, but it is really nice to have a few minutes before the kids are up. I always feel more put together and ready for the day if I am the first one up.

  6. Leslie on October 31, 2017 at 12:44 pm

    I myself sleep until the last possible second too. I love sleeping, it’s one of my favorite ways to meditate. I need to start doing a workout in the morning, I’d probably feel better.

  7. Molly on October 31, 2017 at 1:22 pm

    I have a puppy that we got a year ago. I used to work out in the mornings but taking care of him took away that extra time, especially when we were potty training! Now I work out at lunch but I’d love to do something short to energize me in the mornings. 20 minutes of yoga? 20 minutes of cardio? What would you suggest?

  8. Ali G on November 1, 2017 at 10:12 am

    I loved this workout! Felt like my favourite time of classic Fitnessista workout. I’ll work at getting it in before the kids are up and getting ready for school. For now I’m mostly working out when I get home from dropping them off.

  9. Heather on March 13, 2018 at 1:48 pm

    Loved this workout! It is a keeper.

    • Fitnessista on March 13, 2018 at 9:42 pm

      so happy you enjoyed it!

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