For a bit of back story, I did a lot of sports when I was younger, but stopped when I went to University, put on a lot of weight and ended up weight 14 stone. To slim down I took up running, and lost a lot of weight (down to 11 stone), but hit a plateau and then took up the Insanity Workout. To try and get bigger muscles, I added the Insanity Upper Body Weight training to the program, and do that every Monday, Wednesday and Friday on top of the usual workout.

I've hit a plateau with that now, and feel as if I'm not losing the fat around my abdomen, and not really gaining any growth on my arms despite the weight training. I looked into P90X, and was ready to start that, but I noticed some reviews stating that it's too long a workout, and can cause injuries. I must admit, I'm doing 90-100 minutes now on 3 days a week, and it's probably too much, every day at 90 minutes does sound too hard.

Reading up on some workouts online, I found the 21 minute Bodyweight Burn (BW3) workout and it was an attractive prospect, as it would significantly reduce the time I spend every morning working out, and give me free time. Same goes for the Mark Lauren workouts, and that's only 3 times a week. Can 20 minutes a day, or even just 3 times a week be enough? Or is this too good to be true?

Just to note, I want a DVD workout that I can do in my garage every morning, as it works well for me at the moment. And my goals are bigger arms and a flatter abdomen.

  • Maybe consider giving this a read: fitness.stackexchange.com/a/24596/7091
    – Eric
    Jul 25, 2016 at 0:42
  • If you're already doing 90 to 100 mins three times a week, adding 20 minutes on other days is only going to burn more calories and be more exercise. Of course it will be helpful. Any additional activity is helpful. Will it be enough to get you where you want? Hard to say. Don't adjust your eating habits to "reward" yourself. Aug 25, 2016 at 21:03

2 Answers 2


For me, personally, it sounds like very little time. But it has to be said that it's not how long you work out, it's how much you accomplish in that time.

If you do 21 minutes of super-setting compound exercises with max 30 seconds rest between sets, then I think you might be able to call that a worthwhile session.

But extending the workout time allows you to spread the workload more evenly, and take the time to focus on a good warmup, good form, a good pump and a good stretch. And that is, in the long run, certainly more productive.

So in short, I vote nay. 20 minutes is too little. I think you'll stagnate before making any measurable, positive difference to your body, and you'll get stuck in a rut.

Don't buy into the promises of huge gains with minimal effort. If it was that easy, everyone would be ripped.


In summary: Is 21 minutes of bodyweight training really enough? My goals are bigger arms and a flatter abdomen.

If you exercise that amount you will gain some muscle strength in your upper body and you might lose some weight. What is most likely is that nothing will visibly change in the mirror based on your current plan.


Because time-under-tension is not just the key to gaining muscles, the amount of tension you apply plays a key role.

Because you can't out-exercise a bad diet

Because you can't spot-reduce your belly fat

Because progressive overload is essential for gaining muscle

Because in order to see gains you'll need exercises that can take you to exhaustion in 6-12 repetitions

  • If OP would alternate days between HIIT/cardio and upper body exercises, combined with a proper diet, I believe it should be possible to lose fat (including belly fat) and gain muscle. Not Mr. Olympia levels, but perhaps enough to keep OP from losing interest. How much time do people spend on, say, bicep curls anway? It's basically the low rep, high volume sets that are said to build muscle. Add some plank time and OP's requirements should be mostly fulfilled. That's just my opinion, of course, perhaps I am way off.
    – vgru
    Jul 25, 2016 at 19:47

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