HERE’S A SILLY QUESTION: Would you rather exercise for an hour or for 20 minutes or less?
Assuming you chose 20 minutes, here is some encouraging news: A good workout doesn’t have to take an hour. “Done at the right intensity, the majority of the gains come within the first 10 to 20 minutes,” says metabolic training expert BJ Gaddour. Less time is more calories burned if you exercise using an increasingly popular method called HIIT, which stands for “high-intensity interval training.”
HIIT workouts can cut your exercise time in half and help you burn more fat. In one study from Australia, researchers monitored two groups of women who did two different types of exercise programs, a 20-minute HIIT workout of eight-second sprints alternating with 12-second recovery jogs, and a 40-minute steady-state cardio workout. At the end of the study, researchers discovered that the women who did the shorter HIIT workouts lost six times more body fat than the women in the steady-state group.
These types of workouts are effective fat-burners because of a phenomenon called “excess post-exercise oxygen consumption,” or EPOC for short. “Your body continues to expend calories beyond the resting metabolic rate for hours,” Gaddour says.
Try HIIT at Home
Before starting a new exercise routine, consult with your doctor. When you’re ready to begin, HIIT walking and running workouts include a mix of brisk walking/running with a more moderate pace to allow for a short recovery. Alternate this way for the duration of your workout, about 15 minutes total.
Other HIIT workouts involve bodyweight exercises, like the ones shown in the gallery below. Try this speedy total-body workout called the Scout Circuit. Do the following exercises one after another with one minute of rest in between moves. Complete as many circuits as you can in 10 or 15 minutes.
THE SCOUT CIRCUIT
JEFF CSATARI is the author of the New York Times best-seller The Belly Off! Diet.
FIND MORE HEALTH AND FITNESS STORIES AT SCOUTINGMAGAZINE.ORG/FITNESS