The Case for the 1-Minute Workout Is Getting Stronger

Source: Time

By Alice Park

Is the one minute workout for real? Here’s what you need to know about whether it’s right for you

There’s a lot of talk in the exercise world about high intensity interval training (HIIT) lately, which is exactly what it sounds like — alternating episodes of exercise with periods of less intensive activity or recovery. It’s not an new idea, although many gyms, trainers and some experts are touting it as if it’s a new phenomenon. Professional and elite athletes have been using interval training for nearly a century to maintain their peak performance with the least wear and tear on their bodies. And it’s baked in to workouts like SoulCycle, Cross Fit and many group classes at gyms.

But the concept of HIIT is gaining more momentum lately thanks to research that’s starting to show that such regimens can actually have the same health benefits as continuous, longer workouts—even if the intervals of exercise add up to as little a 60 seconds of burn. (See Introducing the 1-Minute Workout, here.) Of course, that doesn’t mean people are working hard for 1 minute in a whole day. It’s about alternating within a workout.

Read More: Introducing the One-Minute Workout

In the latest study, published in PLOS One, exercise scientists led by Martin Gibala, chair of kinesiology at McMaster University, who has spent the last several years documenting the health benefits of interval training, found that as little as one minute of intensive exercise could have the same health benefits for the heart, respiratory fitness and muscles as 45 minutes of more typical continuous exercise over three months.

Granted, those 60 seconds have to be at a sprint-like pace, as if you’re being chased down by a tiger and fueled by adrenaline. But it’s just 60 seconds. “I think there is good evidence that shows you can see comparable benefits despite the fact that intervals require less total exercise and reduced time commitment,” says Gibala.

The key in how little you can get away with, however, depends on how hard you push yourself during those short bursts of activity. “The extent of reduction in total exercise and time commitment is related to how hard you’re willing to push yourself,” he says.

It’s also probably related to interspersing the high intensity activity with periods of less vigorous exercise and recovery. It’s not just a matter of pushing for one minute and being done. In the study, the people in the interval group rode stationary bikes for two minutes to warm up, then pushed themselves to ride as fast as they could for 20 seconds, then rode more slowly for two minutes and repeated this pattern two more times for a total of 10 minutes.

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