Maria Sykes
Maria Sykes
March 9, 2024 ·  5 min read

20-Second Workouts for Anyone Who’s Losing Muscle Due to Aging

Your body starts to grow from the moment that you are born. Your muscles, though, start to weaken as early as the age of 30! If you’ve seen the other side of your 20’s, it’s time to start thinking about what you can do to strengthen your body and reduce muscle degeneration. Thankfully, scientists have pinpointed the most effective type of exercise for counteracting aging muscles and their effects, including immobility and arthritis.

What is muscle atrophy?

Muscle atrophy, or degeneration, happens when your muscles lose mass and, as a result, become smaller and weaker. The more you age, the more the degeneration progresses. This happens because as time goes by, it’s harder for the cells in your body to renew themselves. Mitochondria, the parts of the cell that produce energy, become weaker and fewer in numbers. (9)

When does it start?

You can experience muscle degeneration between the ages of 30 to 40. (5) If you are not physically active, your body can lose up to 5% of muscle mass after the age of 30. When you reach the age of 70 or 80, you will have lost almost half of your muscle mass, so it’s important to include physical exercise in your daily activities for smoother aging. (9)

What are the issues that it causes?

  • Frailty: the weaker your muscles are, the more frail your body is. According to a study, participants who suffered muscle degeneration were more than three times likely to fall compared to participants whose muscles were stronger. (6)
  • Disability: muscle degeneration causes limitation in your movements and loss of function in your body. (2) Limited movements can make activities like walking half a mile, climbing stairs, or even doing heavy work around the house impossible. (9)
  • Arthritis: a study showed that there is a link between participants who suffered muscle degeneration and Rheumatoid Arthritis. This link was more prevalent in women than in men. (3)
  • Mortality: another study found that patients who underwent pancreatic surgery had a higher risk of dying in the following three years if they had muscle degeneration. (7)

The workout that helps combat muscle atrophy

The issues related to muscle degeneration are serious, but all is not lost. Exercise often helps with this condition, but a new study discovered that there is a specific workout that has an amazing impact on your cells.

The workout

The researchers assigned different workouts to groups of participants. One group lifted weights regularly, another used an exercise bike moderately for 30 minutes and lifted weights lightly, and a third group also used an exercise bike, but was instructed to pedal intensely in four minute intervals.

Not only did the third group build more endurance, but the researchers noticed that the genes of both young and older participants had different activity levels. Specifically, the exercise affected 274 genes in participants 30 years old or younger and almost 400 in those 65 years old or older. The numbers for the other groups were significantly lower.

The study concluded that intervals of intense exercise promoted more and healthier mitochondria which, in return, produced more energy. What is amazing about these findings is that the workout had a more positive effect on the older participants. (8)

Interval training workout

This workout consists of 10 exercises repeated 3 times, each time lasting 20 seconds. After each time take a 10 second break.
• X burpees
• 2 jump jacks + 4 high knees
• Flutter kick squats
• Evan burpees
• Split jumps
Water break
• Butt kickers
• Curtsy jump lunge
• Up and out jacks
• Static squat
• 3,2,1 lunges

Watch the video for more details on how to do each exercise.

How to incorporate interval training into your regular routine

If you already have a regular workout routine, it’s easy to incorporate interval training into it. Here are some tips on how to do it.

  • Warm up first
    • Do your regular warm up and be sure to include your neck, shoulders, wrists, hips, legs, and ankles.
  • Start slow
    • Exercise for 20 seconds and rest for 40 or 60 seconds. Stick to that time because if you try to exercise more intensely at the beginning you may injure yourself quickly.
  • Set a timer
    • Timing is important and it’s better to focus on your workout rather than counting seconds.
  • Work out no more than 3-4 times per week
    • When you practice interval training, your body needs to relax and recover between days of intense training. If you work out every day, you can do cardio instead. (4)

Use these tips when you do your regular routine. Physical activity is beneficial for your body and your health and it’s never too late to start exercising in a new way, just grab a pair of sneakers like these and get started!

Read More: 4 Minute Tabata Workout Routine


  1. (1) DerSarkissian, C. (2016) Sarcopenia With Aging.
  2. (2) Dufour, A. B., Hannan, M. T., Murabito, J. M., Kiel, D. P., McLean, R. R. (February, 2013). Sarcopenia Definitions Considering Body Size and Fat Mass Are Associated With Mobility Limitations: The Framingham Study. The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, 68(2), 168–174.
  3. (3) Giles, J. T., Ling, S. M., Ferrucci, L., Bartlett, S. J., Andersen, R. E., Towns, M., Muller, D., Fontaine, K. R, Bathon, J. R. (April 21, 2008). Abnormal Body Composition Phenotypes in Older Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients: Association With Disease Characteristics and Pharmacotherapies. Arthritis & Rheumatology, 59(6), 807–815.
  4. (4) Gratist. (2015, July 7). How to Interval Train at Every Level.
  5. (5) Keller, K. & Engelhardt, M. (October-December, 2013). Strength and muscle mass loss with aging process. Age and strength loss. Muscles, Ligaments and Tendons Journal, 3(4), 346–350.
  6. (6) Landi, F., Liperoti, R., Russo, A., Giovannini, S., Tosato, M., Capoluongo, E., Bernabei, R., Onder, G. (October, 2012). Sarcopenia as a risk factor for falls in elderly individuals: results from the ilSIRENTE study. Clinical Nutrition, 31(5), 652-8.
  7. (7) Peng, P. Hyder, O., Firoozmand, A., Kneuertz, P., Schulick, R. D., Huang, D., Makary, M., Hirose, K., Edil, B., Choti, M. A., Herman, J., Cameron, J. L., Wolfgang, C. L., Pawlik, T. M. (August, 2012). Impact of Sarcopenia on Outcomes Following Resection of Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma. Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery, 16(8), 1478–1486.
  8. (8) Robinson, M. M., Dasari, S., Konopka, A. R., Johnson, M. L., Manjunatha, S., Esponda, R. R., Carter, R. E., Lanza, I. R., Nair, K. S. (March 7, 2017). Enhanced Protein Translation Underlies Improved Metabolic and Physical Adaptations to Different Exercise Training Modes in Young and Old Humans. Cell Metabolism, 25(3), 581–592.
  9. (9) Walston, J. D. (November, 2012). Sarcopenia in older adults. Current Opinion in Rheumatology, 24(6), 623–627.