Are you ready? Here it goes:
- 2 minutes of warm up at a slow pace
- Give it all you have for 20 seconds (yes, seconds)
- Back to slow pace for 2 minutes
- Repeat the 20 seconds followed by 2 minutes routine again
- Do another 20-second of all you have
- 3 minutes of cool down…and you are done!
Scientists at McMaster University who have been researching High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) have shown that short durations of maximal intensity workouts can be a very effective ways to get fit. This study involved 25 people who were placed into three categories: the Sprint Interval Training (SIT) group, Moderate-Intensity Continuous Training (MICT), and the control group. They were then followed for 12 weeks after their initial data were obtained for insulin sensitivity, muscle composition and function, and assessment of cardiovascular fitness.
After 12 weeks, to no one’s surprise, the control group did not have any improvement in their physical status.
Surprising results came, however, from the SIT versus the MICT groups. Both groups had a 19 percent improvement in their VO2 (a measure of maximum volume of oxygen used). Insulin sensitivity was also noted to be improved. It is known that insulin sensitivity can be beneficial in all people, regardless of one’s diabetes status. For both groups, there were improvements in cellular mitochondrial function.
The study does not suggest that sprint interval training would result in better results than its continuous-pace counterpart. The results do point to a way of getting improvement in fitness in shorter time.
As always, check with your medical provider before starting any form of physical activity. Also, try to warm up to SIT if you are completely out of shape. However, this and similar studies are pointing to the idea that shorter duration of high-intensity workout can produce beneficial results.
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