I tried Jennifer Lopez's five-move full-body workout—and it was harder than I thought

J.Lo's high-intensity, 20-minute routine is a great way to build muscle and burn fat at home

Man doing kettlebell swings outside
(Image credit: Future)

We think of celebrities as having all the time in the world to train, but that's not always the case. Like us, they have packed schedules and need to find efficient ways to exercise. Quick, high-intensity sessions are also my preferred way to train.

That's why I was intrigued when I came across Jennifer Lopez's 20-minute at-home routine. There are only five exercises, including moves with the best kettlebells and adjustable dumbbells, and the aim is to do as many rounds as you can in the 20 minutes.

The workout was posted in mid-2020 by Lopez's then-partner, Alex Rodriguez, and is designed to help you build muscle, burn fat, and boost your metabolism without leaving the house. It's precisely the type of exercise I enjoy, so I decided to give it a try. 

Watch Jennifer Lopez's 20-minute at-home workout

There's a focus on multi-muscle compound moves, including push-ups, kettlebell swings, dumbbell shoulder presses, and bent-over rows. Plus, there's a 400m run to raise your heart rate.

Sadly, I don't have space to run 400m at home, but I have a rowing machine, so I decided to swap out the quick run for a 400m row instead. Here's what happened when I tried to do as many rounds of these five exercises as I could in just 20 minutes.

1. Multi-muscle compound moves are really effective

Every move in this session works multiple muscles simultaneously. Your muscles have to work harder and burn more energy than if you work specific muscles, like with bicep curls. That's even true of running, but I switched that for rowing, which works your whole body.

This is backed up by studies, like one paper published by InTechOpen, which found that multi-muscle compound moves effectively burn fat, drop pounds, and build muscle. This is why Chris Hemsworth's trainer favors compound moves for his workouts too.

Moves like push-ups, dumbbell presses, and kettlebell swings initially sound like they only train your upper body, but you need a strong base and core, a section of mid-body muscle around your abs, for support. So perfecting the form helps you build strength all over.

2. AMRAP workouts are challenging but worth it

One of the other reasons Lopez's 20-minute workout gets results is that you do as many rounds as possible in the time. This is known as an AMRAP workout, and it keeps the intensity high while also letting you exercise at your own pace.

I use high-intensity resistance training (HIRT) in my regular program to build muscle. The aim is to train hard for 40 seconds, take a 20-second rest, then start the next move. However, there are no breaks in J.Lo's routine.

Rowing is an intense exercise anyway, but I went straight from a 400m row to heart rate-raising kettlebell swings, push-ups, and dumbbell moves. It's a challenging way to exercise, but it's also efficient, so you pack a lot into a short amount of time.

3. It's okay to make adjustments

Running and rowing are not the same; they work different muscles and have other effects on our bodies. However, without a large yard to run in, I decided to switch the 400m run with a 400m row and get all the rowing machine benefits instead.

If I hadn't made this change, I probably would have skipped past this workout, but I'm glad I modified it to fit my circumstances. The same is true of most exercise—a routine that works for one person might not be for another.

So long as you choose exercises that you can do safely, the key is to find a training program that works for you. It makes it easier to fit the workout around your schedule and means you'll enjoy it more, so you're more likely to make it a habit.

James Frew
Fitness Editor

James is a London-based journalist and Fitness Editor at Fit&Well. He has over five years experience in fitness tech, including time spent as the Buyer’s Guide Editor and Staff Writer at technology publication MakeUseOf. In 2014 he was diagnosed with a chronic health condition, which spurred his interest in health, fitness, and lifestyle management.

In the years since, he has become a devoted meditator, experimented with workout styles and exercises, and used various gadgets to monitor his health. In recent times, James has been absorbed by the intersection between mental health, fitness, sustainability, and environmentalism. When not concerning himself with health and technology, James can be found excitedly checking out each week’s New Music Friday releases.