If working out for 45–60 minutes a day takes too much mental motivation and time, the trick might be just motivating for under 3 minutes.
According to a new study led by Kyle Sevits’ team from Colorado State University and the University of Colorado, 2.5 minutes of intense exercise, done in 30 second intervals, led to 200 more calories burned by the end of the day. The study looked at men doing 30 second sprint intervals on a bike, with 4 minutes of easy peddling between each interval. They repeated this 5 times for a total of about 30 minutes altogether.
It’s only a shortcut if you are ok with working out extremely hard in short bursts. “In our study, the subjects participating in sprint interval training put forth an extremely large amount of effort. They sprinted at 100% of their ability for each of the 5 thirty second sprints,” explained Sevits. “This is why a 4 minute active recovery was needed between each sprint.”
The 4 minutes rest period was at such an easy pace, I wondered if you could just stop after 30 seconds and go about your day, then warm up again and do 30 seconds of sweat again later, as long as you got up to 2.5 minutes of intensity per day. He said, “My study was not designed to support this claim, however, I would think that as long as all 5 sprints were at 100% of a persons sprinting ability the number of calories may be similar.”
Sevits’ advice to a shorter workout for weight loss and calorie burning is not to go it alone. Find a personal trainer to make sure that you are really pushing yourself all 30 seconds, and someone to cheer you. A trainer not an option? Try a 30 minute interval class or DVD where there are short bursts of cardio intensity.
When asked if these findings would also apply to women, or to someone who just warmed up for a minute and then did 30 second bursts of other intense activity like treadmill uphill sprints, jumping lunges, burpees, and other plyometrics, he agreed. Sevits believes that fit women would get a similar results as the men in the study, because it is about the intensity, and plyometrics are extremely intense.
If you are strong enough, the intervals will be strong enough. Even more reason to get in better shape, because once you are, your workouts could get shorter!