With more and more demands being placed on our time, it is becoming increasingly difficult to devote an hour or more to head to the gym or go for a long run. But the good news is that you don’t need to find a consecutive 60 minutes in your day to stay fit. In fact, all you may need is 10 minutes to get the same benefits if you spend your time effectively.
The key to making your workout work for you in a short amount of time is to up the intensity level. Short intense workouts not only save precious time, but they are touted for offering numerous benefits. In just minutes, you can get in a workout that will have you breathing hard, sweating, torching calories, burning fat and achieving the health benefits of exercise without the time commitment.
You may have heard of this short workout idea before. It’s called high-intensity interval training, or H.I.I.T. This type of workout isn’t confined to one particular type of aerobic activity. If you can up the intensity of your workout, whether you run, bike, swim, row, jump rope or perform plyometric exercises, you can reap the benefits of H.I.I.T. However, given the intensity of H.I.I.T., it is recommended for a healthy population without existing heart conditions.
Research shows you don’t need to go all out for a full 10 minutes or more to achieve health benefits. One study showed that performing just one minute of high-intensity exercise during a 10-minute workout throughout a 12-week training session offered benefits that were similar to doing a 50-minute moderate exercise session over the same time period. The study followed previously inactive men and measured improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness, insulin sensitivity and skeletal muscle mitochondrial content.
Of course, you need to push your body more during super short workouts than you would during a typical 20, 30 or 40 minute workout. After all, it’s not called “high intensity” for nothing. And even if it doesn’t take up much of your time, don’t be fooled into thinking this is an easy way out. Interval training is tough. So if you’re new to fitness, it’s a good idea to spend some time building up your stamina before you start adding high-intensity intervals to your routine.
If you only have 10 minutes to spend on fitness and you think you’ve got the stamina to handle high-intensity intervals, here’s a great option for a quick but intense workout:
You can do this interval workout with any type of full-body activity that significantly elevates your heart rate, such as running, bicycling, swimming, stair-climbing or rowing.
- Warm up for 2 minutes at an easy pace.
- Sprint at an all-out pace for 20 seconds.
- Perform your activity at an easy pace for 2 minutes.
- Repeat this sequence until you’ve done 3 all-out 20-second sprint intervals.
- End with a 3 minute cool down.
How do you gauge whether you’re pushing yourself hard enough during your intervals? Use your body as a guide. For example, you should be breathing hard – able to complete single words but not able to speak full sentences. But you shouldn’t feel like you can’t even get a word out because you’re so winded. If you do, you’re pushing too hard.