We all want exercise that works us hard in hardly any time at all and slims us down fast, so we challenged Prevention fitness expert Chris Freytag to create a routine that packs about an hour's worth of fat blasting into just 20 minutes. When a panel of Prevention readers tried the exercise and diet program, they lost an average of 4 1/2 pounds in just 2 weeks—and two women lost twice that, and another shed 10 inches off her arms, chest, waist, hips, and legs. All the testers found the short workouts easy to fit into their crowded schedules, whether in the morning, at lunch, in the evening, or even after 10 PM. (If you don't even have 20 minutes to spare, try this super quick living room workout instead!)
What makes this plan superefficient and extra effective is that most of the workouts are circuit routines. By performing high-energy strength moves with little rest in between, you burn 25% more calories during the workout and double your postexercise calorie burn—all while building firm, shapely muscles. These pumped-up circuits go one step further: The 30-second power drills you do between circuits will rev your metabolism even higher than regular circuits.
For best results, follow a balanced 1,600-calorie eating plan.
Workouts At A Glance
Rather than lift weights for 20 or so minutes, then do another 30 or so of cardio, you get both in just 20 minutes with circuit workouts. Yoga and your favorite cardio round out the week for variety. (Perfect your yoga form and pick up a copy of Slim, Calm, Sexy today.)
Quick meals in under six minutes
What You Need: One or two sets of dumbbells (3 to 8 pounds), yoga mat, and supportive sneakers.
Warm-Up: For circuit workouts, march in place, do arm circles and half squats, and twist and bend your torso, all without weights, for 2 minutes. For your favorite cardio workout, begin at an easy intensity and build up to a moderate or vigorous level over 2 to 3 minutes. A warm-up is already built into the yoga routine. (Search: Best warm-up routines)
Cool-Down: Finish circuit and favorite cardio workouts by stretching the muscles you just worked for 2 minutes. A cool-down is already part of the yoga routine.
Days: 1, 2, 3, and 5; Do Circuit moves and Power Drill sequence 6 times. After each Power Drill, rest 20 seconds (easy march or side-to-side steps) before repeating.
The Expert: Certified personal trainer and yoga instructor Chris Freytag designed this workout based on her DVD 10 Pound Slimdown ($18; exercisetv.tv/slimdown).