Short Intense Workouts: Time Efficient And Extremely Effective

12 Apr Short Intense Workouts: Time Efficient And Extremely Effective

one-minute_rabbitDr. Martin Gibala, a professor of kinesiology at McMaster University, says that’s if you are willing to work very, very hard you can get away with a surprisingly small amount of exercise. He explains how in his book: The One-Minute Workout: Science Shows a Way to Get Fit That’s Smarter, Faster (published Feb 7 2017)

Intervals offer an infinite variety to workout structure. You get to structure exercise into your life rather than structuring your life around exercise. Sounds good to me.

The workouts boost athletic performance and/or boost general health. Some of the proven benefits include: increase V02max and improve cardiorespiratory fitness, increase number and activity of muscular mitochondria, burn fat, and lower insulin resistance.

‘The One-Minute Workout’  title is a bit of a teaser headline and refers to 3×20 second efforts. Those efforts would be comparable to sprinting away from danger or to save a child from under a car. That’s intense exercise. Consider starting with this suggestion:

25-Minute Workout (3 times @week)

  • Warmup: 2 minutes easy effort
  • Intervals: 10×1 (1 minute hard effort followed by 1 minute very easy active recovery)
  • Cooldown with Easy Effort: 3 minutes

There is nothing magical or best. You want to get to 85-90% of your max heart rate during every interval. Active recovery minimizes the risk of fainting but if you must stop, that is okay. 

Choices of Activity: running, cycling, spinning, burpees, mountain climbers, air squats, walking, etc.

burpeesA Word on Burpees

Q: What would you say is the single best exercise?

A: (Gibala) If I had to pick one, the BURPEE.

Q: Why?

A: Burpees require no special equipment and you can do them anywhere. They build strength and cardiorespiratory fitness. Sets of burpees done in an interval manner provide amazing cardiovascular benefits.


In his book Gibala offers 12 different workouts, including such plans as 3x5minute intervals. Variability is the key. For most individuals there is no single best program and varying up the intervals is a good strategy. (As I like to say “We are all an experiment of one’.)

Gibala sees no reason to ‘demonize’ traditional steady state cardio exercise. There is a place for that and the benefits it provides. Interval Training provides additional menu options and has appeal because it is time efficient. (Interval training does not need to be extreme.)

Perhaps ‘variety is the spice of life’ even when it comes to exercise. 

And remember when it comes to exercise, reward yourself, don’t compare, and find the ‘fun’.

What strategies have you found that help you stick to a program of regular exercise?

Cheerios, ~Linda


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