Are Quick Workouts Effective? A Few Minutes Of HIIT Will Do More Than You Think, Study Shows
"Let's just do a quickie workout," you say to yourself as you think of the 10 million other things waiting to be checked off your to-do list after you leave the gym. Some days, you simply don't have time for a long workout, no matter how much you're craving the endorphins — that's just life. But are quick workouts really effective? Like, can a 10-minute, intense bout of exercise really compare to an entire hour of moving your body? Because, honestly, that would make my life so much easier.
Rejoice, my friends, because according to the results of a new study, a quick workout might just have the same benefits and effects as a longer, less intense workout. For the study, which has been published in the American Journal of Physiology, researchers recruited a group of eight active young adults and had them try different types of cycling workouts at varying intensity levels. According to ScienceDaily, the volunteers tried moderate-intensity cycling (which was defined by the researchers as 30 minutes of exercise at 50 percent peak effort), high-intensity interval cycling (five four-minute sessions at 75 percent peak effort), and sprint cycling (four 30-second sets done at maximum effort with about five minutes of rest in between each session).
In order to measure the amount of energy the volunteers exerted during each workout, the researchers analyzed and compared changes in mitochondria (remember from high school, the powerhouse of the cell?) in the volunteers' thigh muscles both before and after they completed each cycling session.
Ultimately, the researchers found that both the shorter cycling sessions and the longer workouts produced similar changes in mitochondria. "A total of only two minutes of sprint interval exercise was sufficient to elicit similar responses as 30 minutes of continuous moderate-intensity aerobic exercise," the experts wrote in their study, according to ScienceDaily. In other words, if you only have a few minutes to spare for a quick, intense home workout, no worries — science says your body will likely respond in more or less the same way it would to a longer, less intense bout of exercise.
Of course, it's definitely important to point out how small this study is, and as the study's abstract notes, the eight volunteers were all "recreationally active individuals," so it's tough to say whether these findings can be generalized to a larger population. Still, according to Ron Moodey, a fitness general manager and master trainer at TRIBE Fitness, quick workouts certainly have their place in a healthy, balanced fitness routine.
"Short workouts have great value, and can be done several times throughout a day, or can be a great way to utilize 10 to 20 minutes of time, rather than wait for 60-minute blocks that may never happen," he tells Elite Daily over email.
If you want to try squeezing some shorter exercises into your workout routine, here are some of Moodey's suggestions.
Try As Many Rounds As Possible Of This Circuit In 10 minutes
Start with five slow push-ups; if you need to modify, says Moodey, a plank position works, or feel free to keep your knees on the ground.
Next, the trainer says, transition to five very slow sit-ups — emphasis on slow. "Stay tight in the abdomen," Moodey tells Elite Daily. "For help, put your feet under something solid."
To finish, bang out 10 high knees per leg, running in place with your knees above your waist. "Modify [this] as needed by lifting [your] knees only as much as you can control," Moodey explains.
You Can Also Opt For 20 Minutes Of Running/Walking Intervals
"Run (or walk [quickly]) for 30 seconds, followed by 90 seconds of medium walking," Moodey suggests. Try this out for 20 minutes total, or as long as you have to spare.
Or Try As Many Reps As Possible Of This Circuit In 15 Minutes
Start with five towel rows: "Wrap a towel around both knobs of a door. Hold the towel, sit in a squat, and use only your arms to pull yourself to the door," Moodey explains. Household objects FTW — who needs a gym?
Next, the trainer says, do five slow push-ups, followed by 10 slow bodyweight squats, and finish the circuit with 20 mountain climbers.
Moodey recommends doing any of these workouts about two to three times a week, and pushing yourself to increase the number of intervals and rounds over time, as your body allows. Sounds pretty doable, right?