‘What, benefit from 1 minute of exercise? No way!’
Actually, yes way.
If you read past the headlines you’ll see that the training sessions were actually 10 minutes in length, not just one minute.
And yes, the results of the research showed that the much shorter exercise sessions resulted in the same improvements in health as did much longer sessions.
Does this mean that you can substitute your training sessions for any 10-minute workout?
No. It doesn’t.
There are some very important details about the 10-minute workout that you must consider.
The 10-minute workout consisted of 3, 20 second ALL OUT sprints (performed on a bike) each of which was followed by 2 minutes of slower cycling.
Not lollygagging; not sort of going hard; going ALL OUT.
This was compared to 45 minutes of continuous cycling at 70% maximum heart rate.
If your maximum heart rate is 178 beats per minute you would spend 45 minutes cycling at a heart rate of 124 beats per minute.
Each protocol was followed for 12 weeks with 3 sessions each week.
Researchers found similar improvements in VO2max, insulin sensitivity, and skeletal muscle mitochondrial content between the groups.
In other words, performing high intensity sprint intervals yielded the same health benefits as performing lower intensity, longer duration steady state ‘cardio’.
In a nutshell, if you are looking for health benefits from your cardiovascular exercise you can do one of two things:
1. Go hard (all out) for a short time
2. Take it easy for a much longer time
They both work.
If you are after other specific adaptations (results) from your training then you’ll want to consider those as well when making your exercise selection.
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Gillen J.B. Martin B. MacInnis MJ. Skelly LE. Tarnopolsky MA. Gibala MJ. 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