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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 team's study.

"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 an indoor cycling 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."

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