Fitness in 6 Minutes a Week
A Few Intense Sprints as Good as an Hour of Jogging, Study Says
Can You Do It Yourself?
The findings really are exciting, says Edward F. Coyle, PhD, director of the
human performance laboratory at the University of Texas, Austin. Coyle has
worked with Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong and with the San Antonio
Spurs professional basketball team. His editorial comments accompany the Gibala
"This is the first report that you can show large increases in muscle
endurance within just two weeks," Coyle tells WebMD. "In today's
society, people spend so much time in front of the TV or video screen. It is
rare we exercise either intensely or for very long times. Since some people are
devoting so little time to exercise, this reminds us how effective or efficient
even short amounts of exercise are if performed very intensely."
If this sounds too good to be true, remember there's a catch.
"The exercise, although only 30 seconds for each of the four bouts, is
as hard as you can go," Coyle says. "So the first 15 seconds feel not
so bad, and the last 15 seconds are hell."
If you're going to try this technique, remember that it's important to
consult your doctor before beginning any kind of exercise. Coyle says it's
probably best to use a high-quality stationary bicycle -- such as the Lifecycle
-- at your local gym. Or join a spin class. There's no better motivator than a
trainer yelling at you to go faster and faster.
"As you fatigue during this kind of exercise, you wind up not being able
to move your legs as fast -- so a higher-quality bicycle ergometer will make it
less likely you'll fall or pull a muscle," he says. "Set the power
output to a level where you feel OK for 15 seconds and you barely can finish
the last 15 seconds. For most people that would be between 150 and 350 watts,
depending on your size, age, and level of motivation."