The current issue of the journal BMC Endocrine Disorders contains a report on research conducted at Heriot-Watt University Edinburgh, Scotland. Researchers there have shown that an extremely short high-intensity interval training workout can improve metabolic function substantively in just two weeks. How short is extremely short? Try, 3 minute workouts completed just a few days each week.
Professor James Timmons and a team of researchers at Heriot-Watt tested the insulin action and glucose clearance of 16 sedentary male volunteers, then started them working out. The workouts consist of short maximum intensity 30-second sprints on a stationary bike, with the total exercise time being three minutes. These workouts were conducted every few days.
When tested two weeks later, the volunteers were shown to have achieved "substantially improved both insulin action and glucose clearance" from just this extremely low-volume, but high-intensity exercise regime.
Dr. Timmons went on to say that while the standard workout guidelines of several hours a week of moderate to vigorous exercise are a fine target, few people are accomplishing this. Very short HIIT workouts can deliver basic improvements, and could provide an alternative for people who can not or will not meet the standard workout guidelines.
This study provides yet more evidence of the benefits of high-intensity interval training as opposed to more traditional workouts. And there's another way to look at these results. If the sedentary males in this study could achieve substantial metabolic improvements in just a couple of weeks of super-short workouts, what could you accomplish if you adopted a total muscle building and fitness plan built around HIIT principles?