Scientific evidence would appear to provide the fitness solution we've all been looking for. It's not for a lack of willingness that we often fail to get the results we're looking for, it's for a lack of time. Recent studies suggest that a short five-minute burst of exercise is just aas good, if not better that a ninety minute slog-fest in the Gym.
Researchers at Manchester Metropolitan University are conducting a programme of investigation into how this intensive 5-minute work outs can help prevent diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. It could revlutionalise the way we do exercise.
Although there's a huge industry about getting you into the gym as often as possibel and keeping you there, imagine if every night you could complete your own intense work out at home in just five minutes. The level of intensity needed is at the top end of the spectrum, however and it's the type of training that makes you nearly fall off your exercise bike after spinning, or the feeling of 'my lungs are on fire' if you're on the football pitch and you've just passed a frantic period of sprinting from one end of the pitch to the other. Vigorous exercise burns more than twice the calories as medium intensity.
A sample programme may include a 15 second sprint followed by a 10 second jog repeated 3 or fur times. Followed by some interval training including sit-ups, push-ups, squats and lunges all done to the fastest gabba you can get your hands on. Skipping is also a great way to squeeze in lots of muscle groups for a short-term vigorous work out.
Another potential benefit of the short/intense work out is that it doesn't push the body into a weakened 'stressed' state by over-exercising and recovery periods are shortened significantly.
The High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) method is well known in the fitness world and is generally divided into two different schools. The Tabata methodis used by athletes and usually involves 20 seconds of ultra-intense (at a volume of 170% ov VO2max foloowed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated continuosly for four minutes (8 cycles) . Originally developed by Isuzi Tabata, in the original programme athletes trained using this method four times a week with another day of steady state training. They gained similar results to a group that did steady-state training (70% of VO2max), for 5 days a week. In fact the Tabata group showed improvements in their anaerobic capacities while the other group did not.
The other method is the 'Little method' which involves 60 seconds of intense exercise (at 95% of VO2max) followed by 75 seconds rest, repeated for 8-12 cycles. Training 3 times per week. subjects made similar gains to subjects who exercised steady-state 5 times a week.
So there you have it. There's no denying the facts... the only problem is that we're fast running out of excuses!
By Hugo Mc Cafferty