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?
Not so fast, it all depends on the intensity of the exercise. Put simply, if your workout duration is short then you need to push the intensity and if you have a longer workout duration then the intensity needs to be lowered.
A study done out of McMaster University tested this idea. The study showed that a 10 minute high intensity workout could be just as beneficial as a 50 minute low intensity workout. The study did this by grouping 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 high intensity workout totaled 10 minutes in duration and included three 20 second all out sprints on a bike. To be more specific, the bike workout started out with a two minute warm up, followed by 20 seconds of all out pedaling and two minutes of light pedalling. You would repeat this pattern until you hit the ten minute mark. The high intensity group completed this bike routine three times per week.
The light intensity group workout totaled 50 minutes and included 45 minutes of steady state continuous cardio with a two minute warm up and three minute cool down. This 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 and found that both protocols obtained the same benefits, but the high intensity group saved two hours a week of training (30 minutes versus 150 minutes) (1)
Now 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. Thus, it would be very interesting if they repeated this study with trained individuals. Furthermore, in the study the participants performed their sprints on a stationary bike. But what if they performed the protocol with a different cardiovascular machine?
Luckily I have access to an awesome group of clients, so I decided to answer this question myself. 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 that it is too easy for my trained individuals. Instead, I am using an Airdyne Bike which 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 this workout because they can’t believe how tired they are after just ten minutes. In my career as a personal trainer, I have found that the number one excuse for not exercising is time. But if people knew they could get benefits from a ten minute workout then maybe they would be more inclined to do a workout. Remember, adherence and consistency is the most important thing when it comes to weight loss, and the 1 minute workout is something we all can do.