If you find you can’t always make it to the gym, except on the weekends, you don’t have to let your fitness program suffer. You can opt to do several shorter workouts throughout the day to boost your results and turn that weekend warrior workout to just an hour at the gym, not a half day. Workouts can be as short as five to ten minutes and still get results.
Some special short workouts are designed to supplement a program of regular exercise.
A workout called the nitric oxide dump was created to release nitric oxide, which boosts the mitochondria—the cell’s energy source—can be done in four minutes. However, you need to do it three times a day, but make sure there are two hours between sessions. It’s not meant as a substitute for exercise, just a complement to it. There are some ten minute workouts that are done three times a day that can replace a longer workout if you’re short on time.
Expect effective short workouts to include at least a minute of high intensity exercise.
A McMaster University professor of kinesiology did a study where he used 27 normally sedentary men. He divided them into three groups of nine. One group did a 50-minute cycling routine that included a warm-up followed by a 45 minute moderate cycling session. The second group did a workout that included three sets of two minutes of low-intensity pedaling then a 20 second full all-out high intensity session. The last three minutes were slower, to allow the stationary rider to cool down. That meant that they rode at a moderate pace for 9 minutes with just one minute of intense pedaling. The third group was the control group and didn’t do any exercise. At the end of 12 weeks, health markers showed that both groups that exercised improved their health in about the same amount. Of course, those who were sedentary didn’t improve at all.
The devil is in the details.
While the study used 27 sedentary men, people who opt to go to the gym, normally aren’t sedentary. Their body has adjusted to moderate exercise. Can they reap the benefit of just ten minutes? In most cases, there still are benefits, but not as much as working out at high intensity for twenty minutes, like circuit training provides. How can 15 to 20 minutes of intense constant exercise provide so the same benefit as an hour at the gym? There’s little or no down time with this type of exercise program. No chit-chat, no moseying around to see who else is there, just solid work. Take out all the distractions and that hour turns into 15 to 20 minutes of grueling work.
- Boosting your activity throughout the day can be beneficial, too. Instead of taking the elevator, run up a flight of stairs and walk up the rest to your office. Walk briskly for twenty seconds, then back to normal. Make your daily life part of your workout.
- One study shows that sitting longer than an hour can wipe out many of the benefits of a program of regular exercise. If you work at a sedentary job, get out and move around every 50 minutes.
- Boxing is the ultimate in HIIT. Your sparring at moderate or low intensity much of the time, but periodically go at top speed and then back to moderate to low intensity.
- Never use lack of time for an excuse to miss a workout. Doing something, even for a few minutes, is far better than skipping exercise entirely.