No Time For More Than a 30-min Workout?

Monday April 21, 2014

By: Monette Williams, CPT, USA Triathlon Coach

Don’t waste those precious minutes.

Our lives are busy enough with family and work alone so, unless you’re training for an endurance event (although you can benefit from this), why wouldn’t you make the most of the 30 minutes you have at the gym.   Study after study confirms that high intensity interval training (HIIT) produces the same physiological improvements as 90 minutes of continuous cardio at a moderate pace.

Have you already tried intervals of high intensity efforts without the results you’ve wanted?  While the intervals can make the time go by and you find yourself challenged, you may be missing the biggest part: how fast, how hard, how slow, and how easy you should go.  The method is simple; avoid 100% effort and a recovery that is too easy.  Aim for 90% of max heart rate or a hard effort that feels like a 9 out of 10 being the max for 60-seconds followed by 60-sec easy recovery.  Easy recovery can be 40-60% of max heart rate or 4-6 effort on a 10-point scale.

The workout includes a 5-minute warm up, 20-minutes repeating 1-minute at 90% effort with 1-minute easy recovery, and finishing with a 3-5 minute cool down.

Is HIIT the only answer?  Of course not, there are plenty of studies showing the health and fitness benefits of training at a moderate effort for 30-minutes. An ideal week may include two or three 30-45-min steady state cardio sessions per week and two or three HIIT sessions.