Natural Balance Foods

Are quick workouts more effective than longer ones?

Woman exercising in gym

Exercise routines come in all shapes and sizes, allowing you to personalise your workouts to what suits you best. However, in order to get the best out of your workout, it’s important to understand the basics, such as; does the duration of your exercise training actually impact the overall quality of it?

To stay healthy, or even improve health, the NHS recommends that you undertake 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a week, but the volume and length of the workouts you do to hit that 150-minute mark doesn’t really matter.

In order to hit those 150 minutes of workout time, there are various sorts of exercises you can do – recent studies have found that doing short bursts of intense exercise produce similar results to traditional longer-duration workouts.

The study in question monitored the performance of participants in 2 different programmes – one group took part in short-burst exercise 3 times a week, whereas the other group undertook a longer workout with moderate intensity once a week. Researchers uncovered similar patterns of improvement against reliable fitness markers in both groups. Read more about the study here.

With that in mind, we’ve rounded up some short-burst, quick workouts you could consider adding to your fitness routine. 

Interval Training

Typically interval training includes cardiovascular exercises, such as running, rowing, cycling and swimming. It simply consists of repeating a certain bout of exercise ranging from just a few seconds to several minutes, regardless of the intensity or speed. You then follow this with a low-intensity recovery period and then do this all over again for as long as you like.

There are many benefits of interval training, due to the stop/start nature of the workout, physiology and pharmacology professor Hakan Westerblad found in his research that this prompts your cells to adjust its energy production and become much more efficient than they would in a continuous workout, leading to you losing calories faster and becoming increasingly fitter more rapidly. 

In fact, even participating in interval walking can see drastic improvements. A new study that included two groups of study participants, one that walked continuously at one pace for an hour and another that walked three minutes briskly, followed by three minutes at a slower pace repeated for one hour, showed interesting results. Those who participated in interval walking had improved their blood sugar disposal by 20% whilst those who did steady walking for an hour saw no improvement at all in this area. There are of course many health benefits of walking too.

HIIT Training

HIIT training is essentially a highly intense version of interval training, where your target heart rate should be at 85% of your maximum heart rate, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. HIIT training sees you doing several short bursts of high-intensity activity broken up by short bouts of light exercise. Most people select running or cycling as their chosen HIIT exercise.

Although the amount of time when working out and resting differs between each individual, the benefits of HIIT training for all those doing it cannot be ignored. New research shows incredible results when participating in a 4 x4 minute HIIT workout for 12 sessions.

HIIT training isn’t exclusive to cardio workouts, it can also be used in strength training too; where you can incorporate weight training exercises into your regime. Whether you decide to include HIIT into your cardio or strength routines, it is important to start at a suitable pace if you are a beginner. Martin Gibala, the chair of the Department of Kinesiology at McMaster University believes a routine of 1 x 1; one minute of high- intensity exercise followed by one minute of slow exercise, repeated 10 times, is a good start.

EMOM & Fartlek Workouts

HIIT training is often strenuous and it can take a few sessions to become accustomed to it, however, for those who would prefer a workout a little less vigorous, the EMOM workout may work as a better alternative.

EMOM simply means, ‘every minute on the minute’. On every scheduled minute, you perform a form of exercise and for the next minute you rest completely. This gives you a little more breathing time to regain strength in between. Alternatively, to speed things up slightly, you are also able to change the exercise routine by doing a rep and then resting for the remainder of that minute, starting again once that minute has fully passed. These short bursts of exercise really get your heart rate going and keep you on your toes.

If the whole measuring time thing doesn’t really work for you then no fear, we have another routine in mind. The Fartlek routine has gained traction recently due to its free nature and unstructured methods. Essentially the training technique is a form of interval training that specifically improves your running speed and endurance. Fartlek running involves varying your pace throughout your run, alternating between a jog and a full sprint, however unlike the usual training methods; it is completely up to you how long you run at any pace. The unstructured nature of the workout puts a little less stress on your system but still helps improve your anaerobic threshold and is more enjoyable, especially if you’re having a run through nature

The real point of all of this is that these routines help your body in various ways. The added rest prevents any metabolic fatigue and allows you to really dig into the power of your central nervous system. Through this, it allows you to stay more energetic, helps tone your body and burn more calories all in a shorter space of time.

CrossFit Workout

CrossFit training is bigger than ever these days and with good reason. Its popularity comes in part due to its short and intense workouts but that’s only part of it. As an easily scalable program, you decide the where, when and how’s of your CrossFit workout.

Typically, workouts can begin with a certain amount of time scheduled for different aerobic exercises, including rowing, cycling, doing squats etc. and a few more exotic ones such as gymnastics, throwing and Olympic weight lifting. You would do as much of this workout as possible within the set time and after a short break, you can move on to the next exercise. By doing this short intense exercise regime, you not only spend significantly less time exercising per week, but studies show there is also an increase in the ability to maintain exercise enjoyment and more likely to continue.

With 10g of protein, high fibre and low sugar content, our TREK Protein Nut Bars are ideal for a variety of workouts, whether it’s short-burst or longer. 


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