3 Summer Holiday Workouts Under 20 Minutes Long

A holiday can be the perfect time to unwind and take a break from your daily routine, but this shouldn’t be an excuse to completely shut off and let your fitness fall by the wayside. Dedicating time to exercise around your holiday activities can often be tricky though, especially as you shouldn’t sacrifice time spent with your family or partner. Anyone who has traveled a lot with work will find this instantly familiar, as work trips often leave little time for you to keep up regular training around other commitments.

Summer Holiday Workouts in Hotel

So as the summer holiday season draws closer, I thought I’d write up a few examples of quick, effective workouts that could serve as some inspiration to help you maintain your fitness during your trip, without taking up too much time. Below are 3 summer holiday workouts that you can do in 20 minutes or less, ideal even when travelling with work.

Each of these routines will engage your body’s energy system in different ways: One will be a conventional cardio workout using an exercise bike, one will be a resistance workout with weights, and one will be a ‘bodyweight’ workout that requires no kit and can be done anywhere.

Your 20 Minute Summer Holiday Workouts

Firstly, as a pearl of wisdom going into your holiday: You should definitely stop and take some accountability for the quality and effort of your training. For example, the RPE scale below is a simple and effective way to ascertain how hard you’re working (there are many other methods such as VO2 Max, Heart Rate %’s, and more, but that’s for another blog).

How you might
describe your exertion
Borg “Rating of
Perceived Exertion”
None 6
Very, very light 7 to 8
Very light  9 to 10
Fairly Light11 to 12
Somewhat Hard13 to 14
Hard15 to 16
Very Hard17 to 18
Very, Very Hard19 to 20

Spend a few minutes strategising before your summer holiday workout, figuring out what feels manageable, but still effective. If you’ve never been on an exercise bike, then be sure to start off easy, record your results and make small, consistent improvements each time you do the workout. If during a resistance session you know that a certain weight will get difficult after about 10 reps, especially if the workout calls for 100 reps, then don’t get carried away by ego and simply lower the weight. Do not lift weights to the point that you sacrifice a good, safe form. Move well and keep the rests short. These are not strength workouts; these are 20-minute blasts!

My second pearl of wisdom would be to download some free apps. Some of my favourites include ‘HIITTimer’, ‘Flex Timer’, and if you’re in a hotel with a Watt Bike, I suggest you download their app too.

Workout 1: Cardio

This 20-minute workout created by British Cycling is an excellent way to take your cardio through high-intensity bursts in a short space of time (view a PDF here).

What’s great about this is that most, if not all, hotel gyms will have an exercise bike, so there are really no excuses! The workout is as follows (exactly 20 minutes in length):

Please note: This can be quite intense at first if you’re not used to cycling, regardless of the resistance put on the bike. I’d advise beginners to subtract 10 RPM from the cadence (except during the sections of ‘Max Rev Out’). At an intermediate level you should drop 5 RPM.

The above makes no mention of resistance or gearing, because the chances are that you will spin too slowly! Keep the resistance low and make an effort to spin fast. If as a beginner you find -10 RPM too easy then move to intermediate pace. You should only progress to the above sheet once you’ve done the -5 RPM.  Do not sacrifice RPM for extra resistance! Once you can do the above, then at this point you can now add resistance to the gearing.

Workout 2: Resistance

Warm-up (5 minutes)

Perform each of these exercises for 45 seconds, take a 15 second break and then move on to the next one.

  1. Jumping Jacks
  2. Alternating Lateral Lunge
  3. Bodyweight Squat into Inchworm push up
  4. Jump Squats
  5. High Knees


Perform the following sequence 4 times through.  Move seamlessly through the movements.  Rest no more than 2 minutes after one full round. Either look to increase the weight of the dumbbells each round, or if staying at the same weight, consider timing your rounds, aiming to get quicker.

While this is not the world’s most well-rounded workout, it could be more balanced.

This workout was designed with a few things in mind, namely requiring only one pair of dumbbells and all the exercises involve dynamic compound movements. 

I did consider adding some more isolated movements in (posterior chain etc) but I wanted to make sure you guys get a good, high-intensity workout in with minimal fuss!

  1. Dumbbell sumo deadlift high pull * 12 reps (Set up in a wide stance deadlift, and extend up fast, using the hip drive to help the dumbbells fly to shoulder height)

  • Front rack (dumbbells on shoulders) Squat + Curtsy lunge * 12 reps (alternating each curtsy lunge between each squat)
  • Man Makers’ * 6 reps (grip the dumbbells in push up position, perform a push up then perform a renegade row on your right side, then left side, next you jump your feet to the outside of the dumbbells, then swing clean the dumbbells onto shoulders, finishing with an overhead press, finally lower the dumbbells back down and jump the feet back (one down, five to go!)
  • Next up, with just one dumbbell lets hit a dumbbell high pull catch * 12 reps (in essence you’ll deadlift the dumbbell, shrug it to chest height, then physically let go and re-catch it as you lower into the squat.)

Workout 3: Bodyweight (“Death by Burpees”)

The key point is to do your burpees every minute, on the minute (EMOM). In the beginning it will be easy, but then it’ll quickly start getting a whole lot harder.

Death by Burpees will not kill you. It only will make you stronger than ever.

Here is a video of this humbling movement:

At the top of the burpee, you must jump and clap. If you miss one of those criteria or your form breaks down at any point, the rep doesn’t count.


EMOM as long as possible:

  • 1 Burpee in the first min
  • 2 Burpees in the second min
  • Burpees in the third min
  • And so on…

This means you’ll start the workout by doing a burpee (the best burpee of your life!).  You then have the rest of that minute (so say it took 5 seconds) to twiddle your thumbs and wait for the start of the next minute.  When the clock says 60 seconds, you’ll smash out a set of 2 burpees.

Continuing this for as long as you are able, it’ll soon hurt! Once you can no longer finish the set of burpees before the start of the net minute, then the workout is over.


If you’d like to read more health and fitness advice for going on holiday, be sure to check out some of our past blog posts!

In How to Beat the Breakfast Buffet, we discuss what foods to avoid at all-inclusive meals.

Don’t Let Your Holiday Set You Back outlines a great 10-minute workout to keep you feeling fit and energised.

And for anyone looking to get back on track after an indulgent holiday, read our post on Undoing the Holiday Damage.

Wishing you all the best on your summer holidays,