More Scientific Support for a Quick Workout

Stephen Holt, Timonium personal trainer

Millions of readers of national fitness magazines including Shape, Women's Health, Fitness. Woman's Day, Family Circle, Runner's World, (and many others) have made their exercise programs both more effective AND more efficient with fitness and nutrition advice from "America's Baby Boomer Expert," Stephen Holt.

A week ago, the book I co-authored, The Fad Free Fitness Formula, hit #1 on Amazon in the “Quick Workout” category.

My chapter, The 3-4-5 Fat Loss System, featured fast workouts I created for busy women.

(Here’s a quick “I told you so!” and/or “Take that, my friend [or some similar “m… f…” phrase] screenshot I sent to all the doubters on my Contacts list)

Funny, though, I published the original form of the 3-4-5 System in Fitness Management magazine way back in 2001. Looks like I was ahead of my time when it comes to designing fast workouts for women.

Two recent studies back up we’ve been proving every day at my gym …
The abstract is below, but here’s what they showed in regular English:

One group of women ran on the treadmill for 30 min 4 times a week. Obviously, that’s a total of 2 hrs a week.

Another group did what we reluctantly* call Metabolic Conditioning (MetCon) using exercises like burpees, jumping jacks, mountain climbers, or squat thrusts with what’s commonly called the Tabata Protocol (which simply means 8 rounds of 20 sec of exercise followed by 10 sec of rest). They did this 4 times a week for a total of 16 minutes of exercise.

(*”Reluctant” because your metabolism is always “on” as long as you’re alive, regardless of what energy system is predominant.)

That’s 2 hrs of exercise vs. 16 minutes (0.27 hrs) of exercise.

The result:

The MetCon group increased their aerobic capacity even more than the endurance trained group. (Something we already knew from the original Tabata study, but still shocking enough to be worth repeating).

What’s even more stunning was that the MetCon group made amazing improvements in muscle endurance (for example, 207% gain in the chest press and 135% in push ups).

That’s as much as 3 times the muscle endurance in 1/7 th the time.

What you need to do:

Stop your love affair with long, slow cardio. It’s not working for you! BTW, the MetCon group also reported greater “perceived enjoyment.” Translation – they had more fun!

Get off the treadmill and get down and give me some burpees.

Extremely low volume, whole-body aerobic–resistance training improves aerobic fitness and muscular endurance in females
Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 10.1139/h2012-093

The current study evaluated changes in aerobic fitness and muscular endurance following endurance training and very low volume, whole-body, high-intensity, interval-style aerobic–resistance training. Subjects’ enjoyment and implementation intentions were also examined prior to and following training. Subjects (22 recreationally active females (20.3 ± 1.4 years)) completed 4 weeks of exercise training 4 days per week consisting of either 30 min of endurance treadmill training (~85% maximal heart rate; n = 7) or whole-body aerobic–resistance training involving one set of 8 × 20 s of a single exercise (burpees, jumping jacks, mountain climbers, or squat thrusts) separated by 10 s of rest per session (n = 7). A third group was assigned to a nontraining control group (n = 8). Following training, O2peak was increased in both the endurance (~7%) and interval (~8%) groups (p < 0.05), whereas muscle endurance was improved (p < 0.05) in the interval group (leg extensions, +40%; chest presses, +207%; sit-ups, +64%; push-ups, +135%; and back extensions, +75%). Perceived enjoyment of, and intentions to engage in, very low volume, high-intensity, whole-body interval exercise were both increased following training (p < 0.05). No significant changes were observed for any variable in the control (nontraining) group. These data demonstrate that although improvements in cardiovascular fitness are induced by both endurance and extremely low volume interval-style training, whole-body aerobic–resistance training imparted addition benefit in the form of improved skeletal muscle endurance.

A second study looked at the same philosophy we take at my gym in Lutherville-Timonium, 29 Again Custom Fitness.

You see, high-intensity interval training (HIT) certainly works for changing your body, but most people find it to be too strenuous. Our gym caters to baby boomer moms who are too busy to be hampered with the overwhelming soreness and fatigue overly zealous workouts can cause.

This small study looked at reduced-exertion HIT (REHIT, cute, huh?) and found that 10-min sessions of cycling 3x a week with up to two 20-sec sprints improved insulin sensitivity up to 28%!

Think about that. A total of 30 minutes a week sitting on your butt (ok, not my preferred mode of exercise – see study above) with a whopping 2 minutes of week of sprints and you still get life-changing benefits.

What you need to do:

Remember “sprinting” is a relative term. Whether you’re still stuck on cardio or your doing bodyweight-only workouts, you should focus on increasing your intensity (even if it’s only 10-20 sec a workout) rather than increasing the length of your workout.

Eur J Appl Physiol. 2012 Jul;112(7):2767-75. Epub 2011 Nov 29.
Towards the minimal amount of exercise for improving metabolic health: beneficial effects of reduced-exertion high-intensity interval training.
Metcalfe RS, Babraj JA, Fawkner SG, Vollaard NB.
Source: School of Life Sciences, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, UK.

High-intensity interval training (HIT) has been proposed as a time-efficient alternative to traditional cardiorespiratory exercise training, but is very fatiguing. In this study, we investigated the effects of a reduced-exertion HIT (REHIT) exercise intervention on insulin sensitivity and aerobic capacity. Twenty-nine healthy but sedentary young men and women were randomly assigned to the REHIT intervention (men, n = 7; women, n = 8) or a control group (men, n = 6; women, n = 8). Subjects assigned to the control groups maintained their normal sedentary lifestyle, whilst subjects in the training groups completed three exercise sessions per week for 6 weeks. The 10-min exercise sessions consisted of low-intensity cycling (60 W) and one (first session) or two (all other sessions) brief ‘all-out’ sprints (10 s in week 1, 15 s in weeks 2-3 and 20 s in the final 3 weeks). Aerobic capacity ([Formula: see text]) and the glucose and insulin response to a 75-g glucose load (OGTT) were determined before and 3 days after the exercise program. Despite relatively low ratings of perceived exertion (RPE 13 ± 1), insulin sensitivity significantly increased by 28% in the male training group following the REHIT intervention (P < 0.05). [Formula: see text] increased in the male training (+15%) and female training (+12%) groups (P < 0.01). In conclusion we show that a novel, feasible exercise intervention can improve metabolic health and aerobic capacity. REHIT may offer a genuinely time-efficient alternative to HIT and conventional cardiorespiratory exercise training for improving risk factors of T2D.

Short intense workout are good for more than burning fat. Learn more –>  — Men’s Fitness (@MensFitness)

So, how long is your typical workout?


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