Unless you’re one of those weird goddess creatures who actually enjoys exercising, going to the gym can be a slog. You feel the need to do at least 30 minutes of cardio, usually more, and then it’s on to weights. But now science says that doing just one minute of interval training can be equal to 45 minutes of jogging. Sounds like a recipe for more efficient (and shorter!) workouts. We’re so in.
The research comes from scientists at McMaster University in Ontario. They studied the workout known as interval training. For the uninitiated, that’s when you do short segments of high-intensity exercise followed by either a short rest period or lower-intensity exercise.
The researchers studied 25 men who were not in great shape. The men had their levels of aerobic fitness tested, as well as their muscles biopsied to see how well they functioned at their most basic cellular level. Pretty thorough.
Then, they split the men into a control group, a moderate intensity group and a sprint interval training (SIT) group. The control group didn’t do anything. The moderate intensity group did a routine of two minutes of warming up, 45 minutes of stationary bike and a three-minute cool down three times a week.
The SIT group, however, did the shortest interval training apparently ever recorded by science. These men warmed up for two minutes on the same stationary bike, then sprinted as fast as they could for 20 seconds. Then they rode very slowly for two minutes. The whole sequence was repeated for a total of three sets, took only 10 minutes and only one entire minute of the whole workout was high-intensity.
The study was conducted for 12 weeks, and the results were collected at the end—and they were stunning. Naturally, the control group didn’t have any change in results, but the other two groups showed nearly identical results.
Both groups showed a 20 percent increase in cardiovascular endurance and increased numbers of energy and oxygen-producing cells in their muscles, based on a second round of biopsies.
But what’s really striking about this experiment is the difference in hours spent working out: The moderate intensity group rode their stationary bikes for 27 hours, the SIT group rode for only 6 hours—and of that, only 36 minutes was at a high intensity. And yet, the interval group got the same health benefits—in one-fifth of the time—as the people doing the moderately intense workout.
Although it was a small study, and only included men, the point remains that science has already proven that interval training is much better for you in the long run. So, you officially have permission to stop spending 45 minutes on the treadmill because you think it’s the best workout. Thank you, science!