Unlike the old days when people had to walk everywhere, spent hours on household chores and most work was very physical, today we’re living at a faster pace and working mostly at jobs that involve a lot of sitting. So the idea of short bursts of activity a few times a week sounds like the ideal solution to keeping in shape in modern times. And as it turns out, research shows that this type of exercise actually works.
The workouts mix sort periods of intense activity with slower activity periods. This is what trainers’ call interval training but it’s now been given the catchy name “fastercize.” Studies of this type of exercising show greater cardio improvement plus lower body fat compared to the longer, slower methods. So now, researchers have been trying to pin down the optimal mix and the consensus is that 10 minutes sessions is the minimum you’ll need to see results.
But those 10 minutes aren’t all hard work. You start with a couple of minutes of warm up activities, then start your bursts. Each burst should last a minimum of 20 seconds and be repeated at least twice with a few minutes in between to recover. Those who are new to this routine or out of shape can start with 10 second bursts working toward the 20 seconds as they can.
- 2 minutes warm-up
- 20 second burst
- 1 minute, 40 second recovery
- 20 second burst
- 5 minute, 40 second recovery
As you progress, add another burst session or two if you can. Each will add 2 more minutes to your routine, but even at 14 minutes, it’s still manageable.
Almost any activity lends itself to this “burst” pattern. If you walk or bike, the bursts would involve running/speeding up or walking/biking up a hill. And you don’t have to get out of the house (though the benefits of nature are worth it if you can). Since I work at home, I walk around the house and then go up and down the stairs or do jumping jacks or skip rope for my bursts.
You can also mix weight training in by performing low intensity weight lifting for your warm up and recovery periods then sprinting in place for your bursts. For your cool down, perform some stretches.
If you find that 20 second bursts get too easy, you can bump them up to a full minute. Don’t forget that you’ll still need the 2 minute warm-up, at least 90 seconds between bursts plus a 4 minute cool down. And if you’re looking for more routines or inspiration, check out the book Fast Exercise or search online for “10 minute intervals” for video routines.
When it takes so little time AND you get results, how can you not add these 30 minutes to your week? Now excuse me while I get one of my interval rounds in!