Here's a riddle for you: 1 minute of exercise = 45 minutes of exercise. How? Stumped? So were we until we saw the results of an intriguing new study on high-intensity interval training (HIIT)!
What's so great about interval training?
Well, time never seems to be on our side. When it comes to exercise, lack of time is one of the most common barriers. If time is keeping you out of the gym or out of your workout clothes, there's good news.
As opposed to traditional, endurance-style, prolonged training sessions (such as a long jog) that usually last 45 minutes to 1 hour, interval training consists of short bursts of strenuous exercise surrounded by short, light exercises (such as jogging or resting).
Let's face it, when it comes to exercise most people are wondering how little they can get away with.
The results of a new study conducted at McCaster University, by a team of exercise scientists that have been studying interval training for quite a while, say little. Very, very little.
In fact, to answer the riddle we started with, 1 minute of strenuous, arduous exertion can improve health and fitness. More fascinating, though, is that 1 minute of strenuous, arduous exertion can bring similiar results as 45 minutes of moderate exercise.
Does that sound too good to be true? One can't help but admit the thought of packing the health benefits of long exercise programs into a short session sounds very appealing. Just how well do these short doses of exercise measure up against traditional, longer-lasting, endurance workouts, though?
1 minute = 45 minutes, Scientifically Proven
The research team took 25 sedentary, rather unhealthy and inactive men and split them into 3 groups.
One group was the control. They were asked to continue their current lifestyle, which included essentially no physical activity at all.
One group followed a traditional endurance workout - 45 minutes of biking at a moderate pace with a 2 minute warm-up and a 3 minute cool-down.
The third (and possibly the luckiest group) was assigned to a specially designed, yet abbreviated, interval training program that looks like this:
2 minute warm-up
20 seconds of all-out pedaling hard (here is that intense bout we're talking about)
2 minutes of slow pace cycling (time to catch your breath)
another 20 seconds of all-out, intense, grueling pedaling
another 2 minute slow ride
a final 20 seconds of all-out, strenuous, intense pedaling
3 minute cool-down. Phew!
That adds up to a total of just 10 minutes, 1 minute of which was three 20-second intense bursts!
This experiment carried on for 12 weeks. Participants engaged in their workout routine 3 times per week.
Let's do some math here. The short interval group exercised for a total of only 6 hours in 3 months (36 minutes of which were intense)! The traditional, prolonged, endurance group exercised for a total of 27! That's almost 5 times as much exercise and 5 times more commitment.
What were the results? Strinkingly similiar! Both groups increased measures of endurance by 20%. Both groups showed similiar improvements in insulin sensitivity. Both groups also showed improved muscle function and structure.
Your One-Minute Solution
Current physical activity guidelines recommend about 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigrouous-intensity aerobic physical activity each week. How are you measuring up? If you're too busy to work out this much, this could be the workout for you!
1 minute or 45 minutes? You can take your pick. Rest assured, though, that it's scientifically proven you can reap BIG benefits from even small workouts.
Don't have 45 minutes - 1 hour to workout? No problem! The point is to make those intense bouts, well, intense. You shouldn't be able to clearly pronounce more than one word as you push your body to its limit.
Can you rely exclusively on interval training and ditch long workouts altogether? Many athletes combine both to increase strength and power with interval training, but endurance with prolonged sessions. While researchers are continuing to investigate how to make the most of very little exercise, you now know it's possible to achieve comparable results in just one minute.
True, those grueling 60 seconds will get you breathing and sweating hard. They're brief, though. With this basic principle, you can apply it to any form of aerobic exercise. Stairs, swimming, running, cycling, jump roping, you name it!
Finally, a key way to maximize benefits of exercise is to recover efficiently after each workout session. Consuming whey protein in combination with regular exercise can build more lean muscle than exercise alone. Whey protein also helps to build and repair muscle because it provides all the correct amino acids in approximately the same proportion as they appear in skeletal muscle.
ProEnergy, a high-quality whey protein isolate from EnergyFirst, is non-denatured, cold-processed, and cross-flow microfiltered. Best of all, it is extracted from milk of grass-fed cows not treated with hormones or antibiotics.
Even as little as 10 grams of whey protein can stimulate muscle synthesis. It's important, however, to consume it either immediately before exercise or within one hour after exercise for best results.
Gillen JB, Martin BJ, MacInnis MJ, Skelly LE, Tarnopolsky MA, Gibala MJ (2016) Twelve Weeks of Sprint Interval Training Improves Indices of Cardiometabolic Health Similar to Traditional Endurance Training despite a Five-Fold Lower Exercise Volume and Time Commitment. PLoS ONE 11(4): e0154075. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0154075 Ha E and Zemel MB. Functional properties of whey, whey components, and essential amino acids: mechanisms underlying health benefits for active people. Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry 14; 251-258, 2003. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0955-2863(03)00030-5