If you’re looking for big fitness results in a small amount of time, a twist on high-intensity interval training just might fit the bill. It also should fit into most anyone’s busy schedule.
Traditional interval training consists of a short burst of full-out activity followed by a period of rest or low-intensity activity. There are endless ways to mix up the intensity, length and number of intervals. And interval training in any form typically results in more endurance and fat-burning benefits than working out at one steady pace for the same amount of time.
Now, researchers from Canada and Australia have developed a shortened version — called low-volume/high-intensity interval training — that they say offers the same benefits as longer sessions.
Each session consists of 10 60-second bouts of activity done at about 90 percent of your maximum heart rate, interspersed with 60 seconds of recovery. That’s a total of just 10 minutes of exercise over a 20-minute training session.
To calculate your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220. Then multiply that number by 0.9. For example, if you’re 35, you would subtract 35 from 220 and get 185. Multiplying 185 by 0.9 would reveal a maximum heart rate of 166.5, or 166 beats a minute.
According to the researchers, doing low-volume/high-intensity interval training three times a week can improve heart health and may even help people with type 2 diabetes better control their blood sugar, even though the time commitment is much lower than the standard guideline of doing 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week.
Just be sure you’re in the target zone for each 60-second high-intensity bout. Also, if you have any heart issues, discuss this approach with your doctor before trying it.
In addition, because of the many hazards of a sedentary lifestyle, it’s important to get in some activity on non-interval training days as well.
The American College of Sports Medicine has information on high-intensity interval training.