The Three Most Effective Interval Workouts

When it comes to cardio, high-intensity interval training provides the most bang for your buck: a short sprint-based workout improves your health as much as a longer, low-intensity workout. But should you choose a 20-second burst workout or a 3-minute sprint workout? Here’s how to choose.

If you want your workout to be as short as possible but still work out , try a 10-minute workout that includes three 20-second max effort packs. The researchers found that this procedure , performed just three times a week, was enough to improve cardio endurance, muscle growth, and (in men but not women) blood sugar levels. The only catch: the 20-second bursts have to be really intense.

If you want the most effective interval training workout , look for one in which the effort intervals last 3-5 minutes. This is the conclusion from a meta-analysis published in PLOS One that assessed workouts based on how much they increased VO2max , a measure of cardio endurance. Warning: maintaining the required intensity for 3-5 minutes is difficult.

If you want the lightest, most effective workout possible (remember, high intensity intervals are never easy), one minute of hard workout followed by one minute of recovery is the best option. That’s because without a researcher (or trainer) who calibrates our bike and doesn’t cheer us on, most of us find it hard to work hard enough to get the most out of these other protocols. We won’t strain hard enough on 20-second bursts and will likely crash before the end of the 3-minute interval. According to Dr. Martin Gibal, a renowned researcher in the field, minute intervals are the best option for the average Joe or Jane going to the gym.

Want to try HIIT? Consider These Four Things | Globe and post

Photo by the North Carolina National Guard .

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