When something sounds too good to be true, it often is. That isn’t the case, though, when it comes to high-intensity interval training (HIIT), specifically “one-minute workouts.” I like to call this type of exercise burst training, since it’s comprised of short, high-intensity bursts of exercise, with slow recovery phases, repeated during one exercise session. Burst training is done at 85 to 100 percent of your maximum heart rate rather than 50 to 70 percent in moderate endurance activity.
One of the most comprehensive studies to date comparing the cardiovascular benefits of HIIT workouts to more traditional, longer, moderate-intensity cardio suggests you’ll be able to reap incredible health benefits even when you’re in a time crunch. Translation: No more excuses to skip a workout.
Latest Research on One-Minute Workouts
McMaster University researchers set out to see how HIIT, also known as sprint-interval training, compared to moderate-intensity continuous training recommended in public health guidelines. The researchers were most concerned with the exercises’ impacts on cardiorespiratory fitness and insulin sensitivity. The small study placed sedentary men in a 12-week-long session of either three times a week intense exercise, three times a week moderate exercise, or a control group that didn’t perform any exercise.
The sprint-interval group’s total exercise session lasted just 10 minutes, featuring a two-minute warm-up, three-minute cool-down and three 20-second “all-out” cycle sprints. Each sprint featured two minutes of easy cycling for recovery. The moderate-intensity group involved five times as much exercise, featuring 45 minutes of continuous cycling each session.
When looking at cardiovascular fitness and blood-sugar control improvements, the high-intensity group’s results were nearly identical to the moderate-exercise group that spent much more time exercises. Indeed, the high-intensity group’s 10-minute workout featured just one minute of high-intensity exercise.
It is important to note, though, that other research suggests HIIT may not be as beneficial to brain health as moderate-intensity training. More research is needed in that department.
3 Health Benefits of HIIT
- It’s anti-aging. HIIT reduces expression of certain genes linked to accelerated aging. (3)
- It keeps your hunger hormones in check. Researchers out of the University of Bath in the UK found better hormone balance in individuals who participated in HIIT, or burst training. (4)
- Burst training is a proven way to burn off excess fat fast. (5)
Burst Training Workouts to Get Started
This cycling interval workout is based on the “tabata” style of exercise, which usually consists of 20 seconds of hard work followed by 10 seconds of rest. This is not generally recommended for beginners. In order to do interval training, this same ratio can be used in any other form of exercise as well. There is also an increased risk for injury when performing exercises at a high-intensity for time, so focus on proper form and correcting muscle imbalances.
- Start by cycling at a restful pace for three minutes to warm up.
- Move into your interval period for the next 10 minutes, where you will be cycling as hard as you possibly can for 20 seconds and then resting for 10 seconds. You can use a timer to keep track of the time or count in your head. Repeat this interval schedule 10–20 times depending on your abilities and current fitness level.
- Cool down with a slow, restful three minutes of cycling.
Equipment-Free Home Workouts
Other ideas for burst training at home include running in place, jumping jacks, jump rope and squat pulses. Pick a handful and burst for 10 to 20 minutes, 3 to 5 times a week.
Final Thoughts on One-Minute Workouts
Not having enough time is the No. 1 reason most people skip workouts. This latest research suggests you can spend just 10 minutes a day (which includes just one minute of high-intensity exercise) to reap almost identical benefits of a 45-minute intensity workout like jogging or cycling. Beyond that, workouts for long amounts of time at moderate intensities has been linked to overtraining injuries and chronic high cortisol levels, increasing your risk of a number of diseases.
It is important to note, though, that you should concentrate on proper exercise form and improving any postural imbalances you may have to reduce your risk of injury from any type of exercise. High-intensity burst training offers many health benefits, but it’s still not clear whether more moderate exercise better benefits the brain. That’s a new area of research scientists are starting to investigate more.