JDs 20-3 Hi Exercise Routine

May 19, 2024 11 mins to read

The 20-3 HI exercise routine involves 20 minutes of High intensity exercise 3 times per week. This approach, backed by scientific research, offers impressive benefits for cognitive performance and brain health.

Key Benefits of the 20-3 High-Intensity Exercise Routine

There are many benefits to the 20-3 Hi Exercise Routine, here are some of the science backed health benefits:

Improved Cognitive Function

  • Better Memory: High-intensity exercise has been shown to enhance memory retention and recall. Short, intense workouts boost the production of brain chemicals like BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor), which supports the growth of new neurons and connections in the brain.
  • Enhanced Focus and Attention: Regular high-intensity workouts improve skills like attention, problem-solving, and multitasking. This is especially helpful for tasks that require sustained mental effort and quick decision-making.

Brain Health

  • Promotes New Brain Cells: High-intensity exercise helps create new neurons, particularly in the hippocampus, a part of the brain crucial for learning and memory.
  • Slows Cognitive Decline: Consistent high-intensity exercise is linked to a lower risk of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. The increased blood flow and oxygen during exercise help maintain brain structure and function over time.

Psychological Well-being

  • Improves Mood: High-intensity exercise triggers the release of endorphins, which are often called “feel-good” hormones. This can significantly reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. Regular exercise also helps regulate sleep, contributing to emotional stability.
  • Reduces Stress: Physical activity, especially of high intensity, helps lower cortisol levels, a hormone associated with stress. This leads to an overall sense of well-being and better resilience to daily stress.

Time Efficiency

The 20-3 HI routine is appealing because it’s time-efficient. In just one hour a week, you can achieve significant health benefits, making it an ideal option for people with busy schedules. This contrasts with traditional moderate exercise recommendations, which typically require more time to achieve similar benefits.

Supporting Research | 20-3 High Intensity Exercise Routine

Various studies support the effectiveness of high-intensity exercise for cognitive and brain health. For instance, a study in the “Journal of Applied Physiology” found that HIIT improved cognitive flexibility and working memory. Another study in “Neurobiology of Learning and Memory” showed that high-intensity exercise significantly increased BDNF levels, which supports brain plasticity and resilience.

How to Implement the 20-3 High Intensity Exercise Routine:

1. Choose Your Exercise

Activities like sprinting, cycling, rowing, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), and vigorous team sports can be included. The key is to pick exercises that get your heart rate up to 70-85% of its maximum capacity. Here is a list of potential High Intensity exercises:

  1. Burpees: Burpees are a full-body exercise that combines a squat, push-up, and jump. This high-intensity movement boosts cardiovascular fitness, builds strength, and enhances endurance.
  2. Jumping Jacks: Jumping jacks involve jumping to a position with legs spread wide and hands touching overhead, then returning to a standing position. This exercise increases heart rate, improves coordination, and promotes cardiovascular health.
  3. High Knees: High knees involve running in place while lifting your knees as high as possible. This exercise targets the lower body, enhances cardiovascular endurance, and improves agility.
  4. Mountain Climbers: Mountain climbers are a dynamic exercise where you alternate bringing your knees to your chest from a plank position. This movement works the core, shoulders, and legs, providing a vigorous cardio workout.
  5. Sprints: Sprints are short bursts of running at maximum speed. This high-intensity exercise improves cardiovascular capacity, builds leg strength, and boosts overall athletic performance.
  6. Box Jumps: Box jumps involve jumping onto and off a sturdy box or platform. This plyometric exercise enhances explosive power, leg strength, and coordination.
  7. Jump Rope: Jump rope is a classic high-intensity exercise that improves cardiovascular fitness, coordination, and agility. It’s an effective full-body workout that can be done almost anywhere.
  8. Kettlebell Swings: Kettlebell swings involve swinging a kettlebell between your legs and up to chest level. This exercise targets the core, glutes, and shoulders, providing a high-intensity, full-body workout.
  9. Push-Ups: Push-ups are a versatile exercise that targets the chest, shoulders, triceps, and core. Performing them at a high intensity increases upper body strength and endurance.
  10. Tabata Training: Tabata training is a form of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) that involves 20 seconds of maximum effort followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated for 4 minutes. This method can be applied to various exercises, such as squats, push-ups, or sprints, and is highly effective for improving cardiovascular fitness and burning calories.

2. Intensity and Duration

Each session should last for 20 minutes, with intervals of intense effort followed by short periods of rest or lower intensity. For example, you might do 30 seconds of maximum effort followed by 30 seconds of rest, repeating this cycle throughout the workout.

3. Consistency

To get the cognitive and health benefits, it’s important to stay consistent. Exercising three times a week ensures that your body and brain get regular stimulation without overdoing it, which can lead to injuries or burnout. Find ways to add accountability by registering for classes, telling someone that will keep on top of you about it, or educating yourself on habit change and habit mapping. Book a virtual appointment with a Nutritional Counselor or Health coach because it can really help to support you to stay consistent, especially when you fall off the wagon, or are going through a hard time.

The 45-4 Li Add on

The 45-4 LI add-on, includes 45 minutes of Low intensity exercise 4 times per week. This routine complements high-intensity workouts by helping to reduce stress, support the immune system, improve heart and mental health, and optimize overall well-being. Here are some details on the benefits and examples of low-intensity exercises you can incorporate into your routine.

Key Benefits of the 45-4 LI Add-On:

Stress Reduction:

Calming Effect: Low-intensity exercise, such as walking or gentle yoga, promotes relaxation and helps lower cortisol levels, a hormone associated with stress. This creates a calming effect that can improve mood and reduce feelings of anxiety.

Immune System Support:

Boosts Immunity: Regular low-intensity exercise enhances the immune system’s ability to fight off infections. It increases the circulation of immune cells throughout the body, which helps in early detection and response to illnesses.

Heart Health:

  • Improves Cardiovascular Function: Activities like brisk walking or light cycling strengthen the heart and improve blood circulation. Consistent low-intensity exercise helps lower blood pressure and reduces the risk of heart disease.
  • Enhances Endurance: By engaging in low-intensity exercises, you can build cardiovascular endurance, making it easier to perform daily activities and more intense workouts.

Mental Health:

  • Mood Enhancement: Gentle exercise releases endorphins, contributing to a better mood and overall sense of well-being. It can also alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety over time.
  • Cognitive Benefits: Regular low-intensity activity improves brain function by enhancing blood flow to the brain, which can boost memory and concentration.

Overall Well-Being:

  • Promotes Longevity: Incorporating low-intensity exercise into your weekly routine contributes to a longer, healthier life by maintaining physical and mental health.
  • Supports Mobility and Flexibility: Activities like stretching, yoga, and tai chi improve flexibility and joint health, reducing the risk of injuries and enhancing overall mobility.

List of Low-Intensity Exercises:

  1. Walking: Walking is one of the simplest and most accessible forms of low-intensity exercise. Aim for a brisk walk in your neighborhood, park, or on a treadmill. It’s easy on the joints and can be done almost anywhere.
  2. Light Jogging: Light jogging offers a slightly higher intensity than walking but remains gentle on the body. Jogging at a comfortable pace can improve cardiovascular health without putting too much strain on your joints.
  3. Yoga: Yoga combines physical postures, breathing exercises, and meditation. It enhances flexibility, strength, and balance while promoting relaxation and stress reduction.
  4. Tai Chi: Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese martial art that involves slow, deliberate movements and deep breathing. It is excellent for improving balance, flexibility, and mental focus, making it a great low-intensity exercise for overall well-being.
  5. Qi Gong: Qi Gong focuses on cultivating and balancing the body’s energy (Qi) through gentle movements, breath control, and meditation. It is particularly effective for breaking energy blockages and enhancing the flow of energy throughout the body, promoting overall health and vitality.
  6. Stretching: Regular stretching helps maintain flexibility and mobility. Incorporate a routine of static and dynamic stretches to keep your muscles and joints healthy and prevent injuries.
  7. Swimming: Swimming or water aerobics provide a full-body workout that’s gentle on the joints. The buoyancy of water supports your body, making it ideal for people with arthritis or other joint issues.
  8. Cycling: Cycling at a leisurely pace is a great way to get your heart rate up without overexerting yourself. It’s also an excellent option for those who prefer seated exercise.
  9. Elliptical Machine: Using an elliptical machine offers a low-impact workout that simulates walking or running. It’s easy on the knees and hips while providing a good cardiovascular workout.
  10. Pilates: Pilates focuses on core strength, flexibility, and overall body conditioning. It’s a gentle yet effective way to improve posture, muscle tone, and balance.
  11. Light Weightlifting: Light weightlifting involves using lighter weights with higher repetitions. This form of exercise strengthens muscles and improves endurance without the strain associated with heavy lifting.

JDs 20-3 Hi Starter Guide (Printable) PDF

Need Professional Help?

Book a virtual appointment with a Nutritional Counselor or Health coach because it can really help to support you to stay consistent, especially when you fall off the wagon, or are going through a hard time.


Combining the 20-3 HI exercise routine with the 45-4 LI add-on provides a comprehensive, time-efficient approach to enhancing both cognitive performance and overall well-being. By dedicating just 20 minutes to high-intensity exercise three times a week, you can experience significant benefits such as improved memory, focus, mood, and stress management. Additionally, incorporating 45 minutes of low-intensity exercise four times a week complements these gains by reducing stress, supporting the immune system, and enhancing heart and mental health. This balanced fitness regimen fits well into busy lifestyles, maximizing health outcomes and making it an excellent choice for anyone looking to boost their mental and physical well-being. Choose activities you enjoy, and make them a regular part of your lifestyle for lasting health benefits.


  1. High-Intensity Interval Training Improves Cognitive Flexibility: A study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) improved cognitive flexibility and working memory, which are crucial for daily problem-solving and multitasking. Journal of Applied Physiology: High-intensity interval training improves cognitive flexibility and working memory.
  2. Boosting Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF): Research in the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory journal showed that high-intensity exercise significantly increased levels of BDNF, a protein associated with enhanced brain plasticity, learning, and memory. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory: High-intensity exercise significantly increases levels of BDNF.
  3. Reduced Risk of Cognitive Decline: A study in Alzheimer’s & Dementia revealed that regular high-intensity exercise is linked to a lower risk of cognitive decline and dementia, emphasizing the importance of physical activity for long-term brain health. Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Regular high-intensity exercise linked to lower risk of cognitive decline.


The information provided in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any health care agency or government entity in Canada or the United States.

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