New Study Says One Intense Minute Beats 45 Moderate Ones

Exploring Intensity

New Study Says One Intense Minute Beats 45 Moderate Ones

We have previously reported that brief periods of intense exercise equal much longer bouts of moderate exercise. It is something we have been noting since we started. But another study has come along that offers up even more evidence that a high-intensity workout can create improvements in health in a fraction of the time it takes with more moderate exercise.

Researchers in Ontario at McMaster University (which we also often bring up as one of the best places in the world researching the effects of high-intensity exercise) decided to test the regimen as thoroughly as they could with 25 subjects who were all young men and all out of shape.

The study examined the each subject’s insulin levels, aerobic fitness and muscle quality (via muscle biopsy). The subjects were divided into three groups: men who changed nothing about their (negligible) exercise routines, men who did 45-minute moderate stationary bike workouts and men who did high-intensity intervals which, according to this article, went like this:

[T]he volunteers warmed up for two minutes on stationary bicycles, then pedaled as hard as possible for 20 seconds; rode at a very slow pace for two minutes, sprinted all-out again for 20 seconds; recovered with slow riding for another two minutes; pedaled all-out for a final 20 seconds; then cooled down for three minutes. The entire workout lasted 10 minutes, with only one minute of that time being strenuous.

The men worked out at the fitness lab three times a week for 12 weeks, and then the researchers tested them again for markers of good health.

The results? The exercising groups showed similar improvements in aerobic fitness and insulin resistance. Their muscles on a microscopic level improved dramatically. The control group showed no change.

So does that mean that high-intensity is better than moderate exercise? Well, only if time is an issue for you.

Look at the numbers — two groups, who enjoyed the same results, had insanely lopsided efforts when it came to the time they spent exercising. After 12 weeks the moderate group put in about 27 hours hours of riding on the bike. The high-intensity group? Six hours. And a mere 36 minutes total was actual full-on, heart-pounding intensity.

So. When you can’t make it to the gym or out for your favorite sport – try a quick Cardio High To-Go workout. 10 minutes of which a couple minutes are high-intensity.

–Shane and Mark