Your schedule is jam-packed, and you’ve lost all hope of making it to the gym. But here’s some good news: You can still fit in a serious workout even when you have almost zero time. Really!
Research suggests that a 10-minute sweat session with 1 minute of high-intensity exercise (think sprints, on foot or a stationary bike) can lead to the same benefits—including improved cardiovascular health, increased endurance, and fat percentage loss—as exercising at a moderate pace for 45 minutes.
If you’re wondering how that could possibly be, it’s all explained in the new book The One-Minute Workout: Science Shows a Way to Get Fit That’s Smarter, Faster, Shorter ($27; amazon.com). Author Martin Gibala, PhD, is the chair of the kinesiology department at McMaster University and the pioneering researcher behind ultralow-volume exercise.
“We have this notion that it takes at least an hour to get in a good workout—more if you factor in the time required to get to and from the gym,” he writes. “My studies show that idea is nonsense.” Below, Gibala shares two routines from his book that deliver maximum results in minimal time.
The One-Minute Workout
“This protocol can be used by almost anyone who wishes to improve or maintain cardiovascular fitness in the most time-efficient manner science has yet discovered,” Gibala writes.
Peak Intensity: 10+
Duration: 10 minutes, with just 1 minute of hard exercise
Warm up with some light physical activity for 3 minutes at an easy pace.
Blast through a 20-second sprint at an all-out pace.
Rest with some light activity at intensity 1 for 2 minutes.
Blast through another 20-second sprint.
Repeat the cycle until you’ve completed 3 sprints.
End with a 2-minute cool-down for a total duration of 10 minutes.
Feel free to customize the sprint activity to any full-body movement that significantly elevates your heart rate.
The Go-To Workout
“If I could only do one type of workout, it would be this one,” Gibala says in his book. “It includes some of the best elements of the most time-efficient workouts in this book, including body-weight training for upper- and lower-body strength and active recovery periods that keep the heart rate elevated for cardiovascular training.“
Peak Intensity: 10
Duration: 10 minutes
As a warm-up, perform 30 seconds of jumping jacks.
Alternate bodyweight resistance-training exercises with some type of cardiovascular exercise in repeating 30-second intervals. The bodyweight exercises should be performed hard, at an intensity of 10, such that you “fail” or are unable to perform any additional repetitions at the end of the 30-second period. Reduce the intensity somewhat during the cardio intervals in between, but the pace should remain vigorous, perhaps starting out at an exertion of 5 and progressing to an 8. So while these are “recovery” intervals in between the bodyweight exercises, your heart rate remains high throughout the entire 10-minute workout, providing an effective cardiovascular training stimulus.
The bodyweight intervals should incorporate upper- and lower-body exercises. One great combination is push-ups, pull-ups, and air squats. If you’re unable to conduct the exercise for the whole 30-second interval, just do as many as you can. Also, feel free to work in such other exercises as mountain climbers, burpees, or lunges.
The cardiovascular exercise could be cycling, climbing stairs, or running a predetermined “lap” around a park or even briskly in place. You could stick with one type of exercise or vary this throughout the workout.
And you’re done! Congratulations—you’ve just employed a variety of the most potent, scientifically proven fitness and strength-boosting techniques to improve health, in only 10 minutes!