A One-Minute Workout that Actually Works

Posted On Feb 18, 2015 By Joe Vennare

A One-Minute Workout that Actually Works

When it comes to getting a workout in, there’s always one thing that seems to get in the way: time. There’s simply not enough of it.

From learning how to perform each exercise, and practicing to perfect our form, to actually executing a workout routine, we constantly come up short in the time department. Workouts take work, after all, and work takes time.

But how much time does an effective workout routine take? That’s a loaded question if I’ve ever heard one. For starters, the duration of your workout depends on your desired outcome. Some might call that a goal. So ask yourself, “What do I want to achieve?”

A triathlete may workout for five hours or more. On the other hand, some high-intensity workouts only last ten minutes. That’s because individuals who race in triathlons are interested in a different outcome than people who prefer quick workouts. The important thing to identify and remember is what you’re hoping to achieve.

That said, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with simply wanting to break a sweat. Maybe you’re interested in slimming down and shaping up, but you only have a limited amount of time. That’s totally understandable. You have a life, a job, interests, kids and responsibilities that all require you to be somewhere other than the gym.

It’s at this point that most people would just opt out of exercise altogether. “I don’t have the time,” they’d say. But, you being the highly motivated individual that you are, still want to improve the way you look and feel. Go you!

Lucky for you, getting in shape doesn’t have to be a time suck. With proper planning, you can improve your body composition and fitness level in less time than you might think.

A one-minute workout though, really?

Okay, this one-minute thing is a little misleading. Sixty seconds of effort by itself is unlikely to produce meaningful results. But, according to a new study, one minute of intense exercise included in an otherwise less intense ten-minute workout does wonders.

This study is the work of Martin Gibala, a professor of kinesiology at McMaster University in Ontario. Gibala and his team have done some of the most definitive research on high intensity training to date. So, it should come as little surprise for Gibala to explore the effects of less exercise at a higher intensity. The question became, how low can we go? What’s the smallest increment we can exercise while still reaping rewards.

For this study fourteen volunteers performed three twenty-second “all-out” intervals on stationary bicycles. First the riders warmed up for two minutes, pedaling slowly. Then, during each interval, participants pedaled as fast as possible for twenty seconds before pedaling slowly for two minutes to recover. Finally, they did a three-minute cool down. All-in-all the workout lasted ten minutes, with one minute of intense effort.

Over the course of six weeks, the participants did three ten-minute sessions, for a total of thirty minutes of exercise, per week.

The results? Believe it or not, the participants actually saw results. Both men and women in the group improved their blood pressure, achieving a healthier score. Better still, the group saw an increase in mitochondria, which meant improved endurance and fitness within their cells.

So, what does this mean to us? It means that an effective workout can be had in less time than we may have thought. If you’re short on time, pick an activity that you like, something like riding a bike, using your favorite exercise machine, or even walking, and follow the ten-minute pattern that the participants did. You may not be running any triathlons soon, but you’ll be improving your health in the short time you have during the day, and that’s what really counts.

The “One-Minute” Workout
Ten minutes total (Only one minute of high intensity):

Section Intensity Duration
Warm up Low 2 minutes
Burst #1 Very high 20 seconds
Recover Low 2 minutes
Burst #2 Very high 20 seconds
Recover Low 2 minutes
Burst #3 Very high 20 seconds
Cool down Low 3 minutes