Improve Cardiovascular Health In 10 Minutes

What if I told you you could get the benefits of a 50 minute cardio workout in just ten minutes, would you believe me?

It almost sounds too good to be true. Ten minutes of cardio versus fifty minutes of cardio, the longer duration has to have more benefits, right?

A study done out of McMaster University tested the idea. The study showed a 10 minute, high intensity workout could be just as beneficial as a 50 minute, low intensity workout. They separated 25 men into three different categories. Nine of the men were put in the high intensity group, while 10 were put in the low intensity group and the remainder six didn’t train at all.

The Protocols

The high intensity group performed a two minute warm-up followed by three 20 second sprints. Between each sprint, the participants performed light pedaling for two minutes. Once the three sprints were complete, a three minute cooldown was performed. Thile group performed this routine three times per week for 12 weeks.

The light intensity group workout totaled 50 minute. It included 45 minutes of steady state continuous cardio with a two minute warm-up and three minute cool down. The routine was also done three times per week.


The study compared insulin sensitivity, oxygen uptake, and skeletal muscle mitochondrial content over a 12 week span. Both protocols obtained the same benefits, but the high intensity group saved two hours a week of training (30 minutes versus 150 minutes) (1)

After reading this, I am sure you are thinking this is too good to be true. Granted, the study was only done on sedentary men, which means they were untrained individuals.  Also, the study was done on men and not women. There is some evidence that women do better with longer duration, lower intensity cardio. So we have to be careful extrapolating this data to trained individuals.

Being a personal trainer offers various perks, and one of them is the ability to test workout programs and ideas on clients. So for the last month, I have been using this protocol with my clientele and have gotten great results. However, I am not using your traditional stationary bike because I have found it is too easy for my trained individuals. Instead, I am using an Airdyne Bike.

The bike forces the client to use their upper and lower body in a push pull fashion. In addition to this total body movement, the Airdyne Bike is fan based meaning that as power output increases, so does the resistance. For the majority of people this will be extremely challenging. In fact, most of my clients are in shock after the workout because they can’t believe how tired they are in just ten minutes. 

In my career as a personal trainer, I have found time to be the number one excuse for not exercising. Luckily, we don't need as much time as we think. The study above shows that we don't need to be in the gym for an hour. We can obtain the same benefits from a shorter workout as long as the intensity is high. Workout intensity and duration share an inverse relationship. As duration increases, intensity decreases and vice versa

Remember, adherence and consistency is the most important thing when it comes to weight loss. You don't have to perform the perfect workout, you just have to show up and move. Even the busiest of people can find the time for a 10 minute workout. 

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