The PCOS Power Workout

Your growing to-do list and the general busyness of the season can make fitting in a workout extremely challenging. But as women living with PCOS, we simply can’t afford to put our health on the back burner!

So what is the solution?

Shorter, more efficient and more realistic workouts that will fit into your hectic holiday schedule. The workout below will set you back just 20-minutes, and you can do it the comfort of your home. No need to rush off to the gym, or set aside an hour for a drawn-out workout.

Don’t be fooled by this workout’s tiny time commitment. I’ve designed this program to be challenging and vigorous so that you get the best results possible in just 20 minutes. Recent studies have found that women living with PCOS can increase their metabolic functioning by regularly participating in intense exercise.

So even if you do not have much time to spare, a short, intense workout can help you manage your PCOS without blowing up your schedule.

That’s a holiday gift you can use all year long!

20-Minute PCOS Power Workout

Minute 1-4:

Before you start the workout, spend 4 minutes warming up. I recommend these exercises for a quick warm-up.


Lunge Stretch

1. Step your right foot forward into a lunge and lower your left knee to the floor or a folded towel or blanket.
2. Position your torso so it is upright, shoulders above hips. Press the pelvis forward to open the back hip.
3. Hold for a count of 2 and then extend your right knee and reach your hip up and back to stretch the right hamstring.
4. You can rest your hand on the ground or a chair if you’re less flexible.
5. Return to the starting position.
6. Repeat 8 times on each side.

Quadruped Rotations

1. Begin on all fours and place the right hand on the back of your head.
2. Keeping your core braced and with minimal movement in the lower back, rotate your upper back downwards and bring the right elbow down towards the left elbow.
3. Slowly reverse the movement and rotate your upper back and right arm upwards so that your elbow now points towards the ceiling (or as far as you can comfortably get without rounding or arching the lower back).
4. Repeat 10 times and then switch the arms.

Body Weight Squat

1. Stand with your feet beneath your shoulders.
2. Inhale and lower your body like you’re sitting down in a chair. Keep the back neutral, chest up and core engaged.
3. Lower your body until your thighs are at least parallel to the ground.
4. Keep your torso stiff as you exhale and press your body back up to standing.
5. Do 10-20 repetitions.


Minutes 4-20:

This workout is designed to be done for time rather than repetitions. I recommend that you download a free interval timer app to your smartphone and use it to time your workouts. If you do not already own some rubber resistance bands, you will need to buy a set for this workout. You can find them at sporting good stores or on


During the Work Interval, complete as many repetitions as possible of a given exercise. It is good to get in as many repetitions as you can during each Work Interval, but you should also focus on using proper form. The number of repetitions you do is not nearly as important as doing the exercise correctly!

Once you have completed the Work Interval for an exercise, take a Rest Interval before moving on to the next exercise.

You can manipulate the work and rest times to increase or decrease the difficulty of each workout. At the end of a set, you should feel like you need to rest but you should not feel faint or unable to catch your breath.

Below is a suggested progression for these routines:


Yoga Push Up

1. Get into a pushup position: place your hands on the ground slightly wider than shoulders width apart, engage your core to stiffen your torso, and your glutes should be firm.
2. Inhale, lower your chest toward the ground, keep your glutes and core strong, tuck your elbows close to your sides as you descend.
3. Exhale, straighten the arms as you press the hips toward the ceiling, so your body forms an inverted V or the Downward Facing Dog Yoga pose.
4. Hold for a moment and return to the starting position.
5. Note: You can reduce the difficulty of this exercise by placing your hands on an elevated surface, like a bench or a step.


Tic-Toc Lunge

1. Step out with your lead leg, bend your knees and lower your hips, keep your torso erect with your shoulder directly above the hips. Don’t let your lead knee extend past your toes.
2. Inhale and maintain good posture as you rise up and bring your lead leg back together with the back leg.
3. Step backward with the lead leg, and lower back into a lunge.
4. Switch legs and repeat.


Resistance Band Row

1. Attach the center of a resistance band to a stationary object between at chest level.
2. Face the anchor and stand in an athletic stance with feet hips distance apart, knees slightly bent, and core braced.
3. Hold the band in each hand with arms outstretched in front of you while keeping your palms facing in toward each other.
4. Pull the bands toward you while keeping your elbows tucked into your side. Pull until your hands reach your torso and your elbows are behind you.
5. Return to the starting position and repeat.
6. You can increase the difficulty of this exercise by using heavier resistance bands.


Corkscrew Plank

1. Get into a pushup position: place your hands on the ground slightly wider than shoulders width apart, engage your core to stiffen your torso, and your glutes should be firm.
2. Bend your right knee and bring it toward your left elbow
3. Return to the starting push-up position.
4. Bring your left knee to your right elbow.
5. Continue alternating legs at a steady pace.


Erika Volk, The PCOS Personal Trainer, is a fitness blogger, nutrition coach and personal trainer. Erika holds certifications from the American Council on Exercise (ACE), TRX Suspension Training Systems, Precision Nutrition, and has received additional anatomy and physiology instruction from UCLA.Erika was diagnosed with PCOS in 2005. Through her personal experience and work with other women, she has discovered that exercise is an amazing, PCOS-fighting tool. Erika is the creator of the Just Start! and PCOS Fit workout programs. She blogs about PCOS and fitness at



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Comments (4)
  • Jessica McCoppin

    May 4, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    Great blog, very helpful info. I always feel better, stronger, and more energetic when I make weight training a part of my exercise routine. Thank you (Jessica McCoppin- WCU Student)

  • Taylor Myers-Ackerman

    May 5, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    I never realized how important weight bearing exercises were for the body and how beneficial they are for the health of the body in the future. My perspective about exercise has changed and I am going to try working out on a regular basis this summer!

  • Pam Mclellan-Zmija

    May 8, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    I have pcos, endometriosis and hypothyroidism, at times I feel totally defeated by my body, however I just started doing vibration training at vmax fitness and I am beginning to finally feel good exercising, I feel like I am toning up and the best is I don’t have pain while doing it! I did have a hysterectomy back in Nove and the pain has been less, however its not completely gone away. I am using weights on the vibration platform as well as doing core exercises. So far after 2.5 wks its going well!

  • Emmy Rine

    May 22, 2014 at 8:06 pm

    Hey, I think building muscle is great especially because as women we are more prone to develop osteoporosis than men.

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