The Continuous 20-Second Interval Format
(“BURN” Circuits w/ Videos )
By Sarah Rippel -Author of Build N Burn
Build ‘N Burn Overview:
The continuous 20-second interval format is featured in one of the “Burn” workouts included in Build ‘N Burn. In this workout, exercises are performed back to back without rest in between for 20 seconds each.
“Burn” Continuous 20s Intervals Format:
The examples I have outlined below use three exercises which are performed for three rounds in this manner. After three rounds are complete there is a 60-second rest interval. How many times this is repeated will depend on the desired length of the workout, along with the level of those performing the exercises.
In other words, if you are simply looking for a three-minute segment, then perform the three exercises for 20 seconds each for three rounds. If you are looking for a 12-minute segment, perform the three exercises for 20 seconds each for three rounds, then take a 60-second break, and repeat this format two more times.
Keep in mind that the exercise selection must be appropriate for three minutes of nonstop work. In my bodyweight examples, I have kept things basic by focusing on the plank position. It seems simple, right? Things get challenging fast with this! For a lot of people, fatigue is going to set in and maintaining good alignment for three minutes will become tough! It is for this reason that I believe it is perfectly fine and should be made known that the goal is to hold position or perform a movement for as long as one can with good form within each 20-second segment. I would rather have my clients hold a 10-second plank with proper engagement than struggle to maintain it for the entire 20 seconds.
If it makes more sense to you, I see nothing wrong with setting a timer for 10-second intervals and encouraging people to perform the exercises for that length of time, while alternating it with 10 seconds of rest. This pattern would be continued for three minutes before taking a full minute off.
On this same note, putting together a combination of higher-intensity exercises such as kettlebell swings, burpees, and squat jumps and expecting people to maintain a top level of performance for three minutes will probably prove to be a disaster. With the goal being to transition from one 20-second exercise to the next without needing to stop, a combination like this would more than likely leave most people gasping for air & unable to keep moving!
For the kettlebell examples, I chose movements that are dynamic yet of moderate intensity.
On a final note, it may be more appropriate to structure a workout that has the continuous 20-second intervals last for two minutes instead of three before taking a break. This would result in a three-minute round, which you could then repeat one or more times.
The possibilities are endless when you can map out the right exercises to use, coupled with a focus on sustainable movement, not “push as hard as you can until you can’t move anymore” intensity!
Continuous 20-Second Intervals: Bodyweight Workouts
“Burn” Continuous 20s Intervals: Bodyweight Overview:
Bodyweight – Level 1:
- High Plank
- Slo-Mo Mountain Climber
“Burn” Continuous 20s Intervals: Bodyweight Level 1 Exercises:
Bodyweight – Level 2:
- Plank Walk-Up
- Mountain Climber
“Burn” Continuous 20s Intervals: Bodyweight Level 2 Exercises:
Continuous 20-Second Intervals: Kettlebell Workouts
“Burn” Continuous 20s Intervals: Kettlebell Overview:
Kettlebell – Level 1:
- Assisted Clean (L)
- Assisted Clean (R)
- Goblet Clean
“Burn” Continuous 20s Intervals: Kettlebell Level 1 Exercises:
Kettlebell – Level 2:
- Clean (L)
- Clean (R)
- Figure 8 To A Hold
“Burn” Continuous 20s Intervals: Kettlebell Level 2 Exercises:
Check Out Sarah Ripple’s Build N’ Burn – Done For YOU Metabolic Small Group Training System for Fit Pros
Other articles by Sarah Rippel:
The Evolution of the 14 Station Mega–Circuit