If you're interested in general health benefits, consider adding short, high-intensity sessions into your fitness routine. After all, the number one excuse for not exercising is lack of time. And one of the main causes of not being happy with your health and physique is a lack of sweat-time. They're interwoven: living long and sweating.
We'd like to introduce you to a fellow named Professor Gibala. He studied interval training to see if there was a way to maximize the health outcomes of exercise while minimizing time commitment. Arguably, his research has induced the numerous exercise apps we see today that offer High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). In brief, HIIT is an exercise medium that incorporates periods of intense exercise with brief recovery.
In one of Gibala’s studies, he asked participants to mount a stationary bike, and:
Warm-up for approx. 2-3 minutes
Peddle (very) hard for 20 seconds
Peddle easy for 120 seconds
Repeat for a total of three sets
Cool down for three minutes
On average, participants rated the intensity of this workout at 15 out of 20. Gibala found 12 minutes, with only 60 seconds of intense exercise, completed three times a week was as effective in meeting health outcomes as 50 minutes of moderate exercise three times a week.
By the end of the three-month study, subjects in the moderate group had ridden for 27 hours. The interval group spent a little over five hours on the bike.
Despite a five-fold lower time commitment, various measures of health improved to a similar extent in both the HIIT and steady-state groups:
VO2 peak, a measure of aerobic fitness, increased by 15-20% in both groups;
Insulin sensitivity, a marker of blood sugar control, improved to a similar extent in both groups; and
Muscle content also increased similarly after HIIT.
Gibala told the New York Times:
If you are someone like me who just wants to boost health and fitness and you don’t have 45 minutes or an hour to work out, our data show that you can get big benefits from even a single minute of intense exercise.
HIIT can be almost infinitely designed. For example, you could take Gibala's stationary bike study and opt to do jumping jacks, squat jumps, or burpees in lieu of the peddling. The trick is to self-monitor via the talk test. You shouldn't be able to hold a conversation. You should feel gassed, but not blown.
If you've never incorporated HIIT into your fitness routine consider attending one of our Outdoor Fitness Classes with one of our certified trainers. It's a great way to test your limits in a safe and welcoming environment. Or try this mountain-inspired work out that incorporates HIIT principals with a little added strength to boot!
Benjamin Franklin: “You may delay, but time will not.”