20 Minute HIIT Workout | Pyramid Format

When you want total body strength training AND calorie-burning HIIT intervals in one short workout, do this 20-minute HIIT workout! Squats, push ups, lunges, planks and burpees — five full body dumbbell exercises completed in an intense pyramid workout format.

You also can view this 20 Minute Home HIIT Workout on Youtube here. While you’re there, SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel to get all the newest workouts!

5 classic full body exercises, with my signature “holy bananas” twist!

This 20 minute HIIT workout is the perfect combination of full body strength training and HIIT cardio exercises you can do at home.

And it’s done in our fan-favorite, pyramid format. Similar to these two popular pyramid workouts:

  1. 30 Minute Strength and Cardio Pyramid Workout
  2. 30 Minute Full Body Dumbbell Pyramid Workout (which has been named the hardest workout on the blog)

FUN FACT: this was one of the first HIIT workout videos I ever shot for NML as part of a DVD series (remember when DVD home workouts were a thing?).

And I roped my sister-in-law (hi Megan) and friend (hi Ellie) into filming this 20 minute HIIT workout with me. So there are modifications offered for each exercise, making this HIIT workout accessible to ALL fitness levels.

20 minute HIIT workout

What is HIIT training?

High intensity interval training or HIIT involves short bursts of intense exercise followed by recovery periods of low-intensity movement or rest. 

In this 20 minute HIIT workout the intense exercise intervals increase while rest periods stay at 30 seconds.

Is a 20 minute HIIT workout enough to lose weight?

HIIT workouts are intense workouts. Making them the perfect way to burn fat and burn calories in a short amount of time. 

In my opinion, if your HIIT workout lasts more than 30-minutes, you’re probably not working hard enough or doing a true HIIT workout. 

How many calories does a 20 minute HIIT workout burn?

You’ll likely burn 12-16 calories per minute. Thus burning around 240-320 calories during this 20 minute HIIT workout.

Note, calorie burn varies for each individual. 

What muscle groups are targeted in this 20 minute HIIT workout?

  • Legs: glutes, quads, thighs, butt and hamstrings
  • Arms: shoulders, chest, back and biceps
  • Core: lower abs, upper abs, obliques, and posterior chain

This HIIT workout consists of five compound exercises, or exercises that engage multiple muscle groups at once:

  1. Squat Jack targets the legs, glutes, quads, and inner thighs
  2. Push Up + Shoulder Tap targets the abs, core, chest and shoulders
  3. 1/2 Burpee + Bent Over Back Row targets the core, shoulders, back, legs and hamstrings
  4. Reverse Lunge + Bicep Curl targets the legs, glutes, quads and biceps
  5. Plank Jack + Plank Tuck targets the abs, lower abs, core, quads and shoulders

So you get an efficient full body strength and cardio workout in just 20 minutes!

20 minute hiit workout you can do anywhere

20-Minute HIIT Workout

If you’re missing group fitness classes at the gym and want something similar to challenge you to workout at home, do this HIIT workout.

It’s a HIIT workout you can do anywhere, and the perfect way to build strength, burn fat and boost your metabolism in a short amount of time. 

Workout Equipment:

A medium-to-heavy set of dumbbells.

I recommend 10-20 lbs depending on your fitness level.

If you don’t have a home gym or access to dumbbells you can always do this at home workout using your bodyweight. Either way it’s an effective workout.

HIIT Workout Instructions:

Follow along with the home workout video at the top of this post, led by certified personal trainer Lindsey Bomgren.

Alternatively, you can work off the 5 full body exercises outlined below at your own pace.

Pyramid Workout Instructions:

This is a pyramid workout, which means you’ll do each exercise for a timed 30-second interval, adding on one move at a time as we work our way up the pyramid. Then we will drop off an exercise with every set as we make our way back down the pyramid.

So it will look like this:

  • Set 1: Perform Move 1  for 30 seconds, followed by 30 seconds of rest
  • Set 2: Perform Move 1 for 30 seconds + Move 2 for 30 seconds, followed by 30 seconds of rest
  • Set 3: Perform Move 1 for 30 seconds + Move 2 for 30 seconds + Move 3 for 30 seconds, followed by 30 seconds of rest

You’ll continue this stack-on, pyramid format until you complete moves 1 through 5. Then you’ll go back down the pyramid in reverse order, dropping off Move 1, then Move 2, then Move 3 and so on.

Again, you can simply follow along with the full length, 20-minute HIIT workout video at the top of this post and I’ll keep track of each timed interval for you. 

5 Full Body HIIT Exercises

  1. Squat Jack
  2. Push Up + Shoulder Tap
  3. 1/2 Burpee + Bent Over Back Row
  4. Reverse Lunge + Bicep Curl
  5. Plank Jack + Plank Tuck

Squat Jack

Squat jacks are a great way to intensify lower body strength training. The ‘jack’ raises your heart rate for cardiovascular endurance, and specifically targets the inner thighs or adductors.

Muscles Worked: legs, glutes, quads, and inner thighs.

squat jack HIIT exercise

Squat Jack Modification: Make this a low impact exercise by squatting side-to-side and removing the squat jump (follow Megan in the blue tank top). Do your best to tap the ground at the bottom of your squat before returning to standing position.

Push Up and Shoulder Tap

Adding a shoulder tap to push ups is a great way to break up the movement and increase core engagement.

Muscles Worked: abs, core, chest and shoulders.

push up and shoulder tap

Push Up + Shoulder Tap Modification: Drop to your knees to complete the push up (follow Megan in the blue tank top). Option to pop up to your toes for the plank position shoulder tap, or stay on your knees for the entire movement.

1/2 Burpee and Bent Over Back Row

A true full body HIIT exercise; this movement adds a dumbbell back row to a 1/2 burpee. Hello posterior chain (backside of the body).

Muscles Worked: core, shoulders, back, legs, hamstrings and entire posterior chain.

burpee and dumbbell back row

1/2 Burpee + Dumbbell Back Row Modification: Step back into the high plank position (versus jump back) to make this a low impact movement (follow Megan in the blue tank top).

Reverse Lunge and Bicep Curl

A classic lower body exercises and upper body exercises paired together; full body dumbbell strength training at its best.

Muscles Worked: legs, glutes, quads and biceps.

reverse lunge and bicep curl

Lunge + Curl Modification: Slow it down or drop weights to reduce the intensity. If lunges don’t feel good for your knees, substitute a squat and bicep curl or glute bridges for this interval.

Plank Jack and Plank Tuck

A cardio and core BURNOUT exercise.

Muscles Worked: lower abs, upper abs, core, quads and shoulders.

plank jack and tuck plank exercise

Plank Jack and Plank Tuck Modification: Make this a low impact exercises by tapping your toes side-to-side rather than ‘jacking’ and then step into a tuck position instead of jumping (follow Megan in the blue tank top).

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6 comments
  1. Lindsey,

    Let me start by saying I’m writing this comment as I’m stretching after doing this workout. As a fellow lifelong athlete and therapist (COTA), I have always found it difficult to train indoors (unless I’m playing a sport) due to several injuries (and just plain Ol’ gym boredom) causing me to “fall off the wagon” for months at a time once my college sports life was over.
    I discovered your website just prior to COVID lockdown and your workouts are ALL OVER my home gym chalkboard walls! They are varied, intense and, most importantly, FUN!, which makes them go by SO fast. Thanks to you, I’m in the best shape since… a long time! THANK YOU and my most sincere kudos for your dedication as a mother, a wife and a fitness guru. You GO girl!!

    • Danae! You just made my day! This is exactly why I do what I do! Thank you for putting the workouts to good use. I’m so happy you’re loving the variety and sticking to a solid fitness routine (even during COVID) — way to go! Keep up the great work and keep coming back for more! -Lindsey

  2. I can’t describe how much I freaking loved this workout! It was exactly what I was needing today and the layout was different to the HIIT circuits I’m used to so it flew past. Time flies when you’re having fun right (or in this case when you’re huffing and puffing and running on endorphins hahaha)
    Thanks a bunch. This made my morning