You Can Get Fit in 6 Minutes a Week
Believe it or not, shedding fat — and achieving lasting fitness — may require only a few minutes of physical exercise each week. What’s more, researchers at Canada’s McMaster University say that 6 minutes of intense exercise a week could be just as effective as 6 hours of moderate activity!
Professor Martin Gibala, the author of the McMaster study, said that the whole excuse that “I don’t have enough time to exercise” is directly challenged by these findings. “This has the potential to change the way we think about keeping fit,” he remarked.
These findings are no real surprise, considering what we know of exercise and physiology. Short bouts of high-intensity exertion trigger adaptive changes in your body. Blood sugar is used more efficiently, fat is more easily burned, and your performance ability skyrockets.
The McMaster Study: 6 Minutes of Cycling As Good as 6 Hours
In the McMaster study, 23 reasonably fit and active people were divided into 3 different training regimens:
• One group cycled for 2 hours a day at a moderate pace
• A second group cycled for 10 minutes a day in 60-second bursts, at a slightly harder pace
• A third group cycled at top speed for 2 minutes in 30 second bursts, with 4 minutes of rest between each sprint.
The volunteers were tested for fitness before the study and after 2 weeks. All 3 groups experienced similar fitness improvements, including biochemical measures like:
• Rate of oxygen absorption by their muscles
• Levels of the enzyme citrate synthase, which helps tissue process oxygen and helps prevent diabetes
Professor Gibala says, “We thought there would be benefits but we did not expect them to be this obvious. It shows how effective short intense exercise can be.”
Other Studies Find the Same Result On How to Shed Fat: Short Bursts Build Fitness as Fast or Faster than Long Workouts
The New York Times recently ran a column called, “Can You Get Fit in 6 Minutes a Week?” The article described a study by the National Institute of Health and Nutrition in Japan that “put rats through a series of swim tests with surprising results.”
In that study, one group of rodents paddled in a small pool for 6 hours, divided into 2 sessions of 3 hours each. A second group of rats were loaded down with ballast, and had to swim furiously to stay afloat through short, 20-second bursts.
After 20 seconds, scientists would scoop the weighted rats out of the water for 10 seconds of rest. Then they’d drop them back in the pool for another 20 seconds of hard swimming. The rats had to repeat those strenuous weighted swims 14 times, for a total of about 4.5 minutes.
Afterward, the researchers tested the rats’ muscle fibers. They found that both groups of rats showed the same preliminary molecular changes that would increase endurance. In other words, 6 hours of moderate swimming and 4.5 minutes of intense swimming produced the same benefits!
The same Times article also described another McMaster University study of college students and biking, excerpted below:
- Could it be that most of us are spending more time than we need to trying to get fit? The answer, a growing number of these sports scientists believe, may be yes.
“There was a time when the scientific literature suggested that the only way to achieve endurance was through endurance-type activities,” such as long runs or bike rides or, perhaps, 6-hour swims, says Martin Gibala … But ongoing research from Gibala’s lab is turning that idea on its head.
In one of the group’s recent studies, Gibala and his colleagues had a group of college students, who were healthy but not athletes, ride a stationary bike at a sustainable pace for between 90 and 120 minutes. Another set of students grunted through a series of short, strenuous intervals…
- After 2 weeks, both groups showed almost identical increases in their endurance, even though the one group had exercised for 6 to 9 minutes per week, and the other about 5 hours.
The short, intense workouts aided in weight loss, too, although Gibala hadn’t been studying that effect.
“The rate of energy expenditure remains higher longer into recovery” after brief, high-intensity exercise than after longer, easier workouts, Gibala says.
Other researchers have found that similar, intense, brief sessions of exercise improve cardiac health, even among people with heart disease.
There’s a catch, though. Those 6 minutes, if they’re to be effective, must hurt. “We describe it as an ‘all-out’ effort,” Gibala says. You’ll be straying “well out of your comfort zone”.
But There’s More to the Magic than High Intensity
These studies all emphasize high-intensity exercise, which is just one of several important principles of P.A.C.E., a revolutionary exercise program developed by renowned anti-aging and fitness expert Dr. Al Sears.
Dr. Sears is a member of the American College of Sports Medicine and the National Youth Sports Coaches Association. He maintains his integrative clinic and research center in Florida, where his exercise and nutritional systems have transformed the lives of more than 20,000 patients.
Dr. Sear’s P.A.C.E program focuses on short bursts of intensity and teaches you how to shed fat, just like the activities featured in the studies in this article.
However, to be effective — especially over time — high intensity training must also adhere to specific principles of rest, recovery, and progressive changes. These are crucial elements that are often overlooked by fitness experts and researchers.
More than high intensity, P.A.C.E. is about progressive intensity. That means that not only are your workouts brief and intense, but they are also incrementally more challenging. That’s progressivity, and it’s what gives you back your reserve capacity.
Reserve capacity is the store of energy your heart and lungs need to deal with high exertion and stress.
P.A.C.E. also uses another equally important component: acceleration. You take a little less time, each time, to get up to your target intensity level. Then you shorten the rest periods between P.A.C.E. sets as you become more fit. That’s accelerating the challenge.
P.A.C.E. teaches your body to store energy in your muscles for immediate use. And it retrains your metabolism to build muscle and how to shed fat.
By combining the principles of groundbreaking fitness research from labs like Gibala’s with the most cutting-edge principles of sports training, P.A.C.E.makes it possible for virtually anyone to drop weight and achieve unbelievable fitness with just minutes of exercise instead of hours.
Find out how to shed fat with P.A.C.E.