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The Fitness Zone

Are Shorter Workouts More Beneficial?
January 11, 2016 | by

Gone are the days of marathons and hours spent at the gym; in 2016 the fitness industry can’t stop talking about short intense bursts of exercise. High intensity interval training (HIIT) was ranked third in ACSM’s 2016 fitness trend forecast, but can short workouts really be as beneficial as the hard slog? We are seeing less and less people working out for hours on end, but rather are looking at the benefits of working out for a short period of time, such as a 30 minute workout session.  

Australian institute of Fitness Perth Training Team Captain, Tallan Ames, points out that it depends on what your definition of short is.

“Can you be your healthiest only doing two minute bouts of activity in commercial television breaks? Well no,” Tallan admits. However, being time poor is probably the number one excuse Personal Trainers hear from their clients, so finding the middle ground between beneficial and realistic is in everyone’s interest. Many people say they have a hard time fitting in visits to the gym with their busy schedules and increasing work hours, so shorter workout sessions can be just what people need.

Tallan says there are 3 key benefits to short bursts of exercise.

1. Motivation

“We are less likely to get bored in a shorter time frame” Tallan says. If you know your workout won’t be longer than half an hour, you’re far more likely to just get it done. Being motivated is a lot easier if you know that you’re only going to be working out for 30 minutes, rather than 90 minutes. If you have in your mind that you’re only going to be there a short time, you’re more than likely going to feel like getting your gym gear on, actually getting into the gym and getting it done.

2. Energy Is More Easily Maintained

If you’re exercising in smaller intervals (90-120 seconds) at a higher intensity it can normally be maintained. Tallan says this is because the body is working in an anaerobic state, which means the body is being supplied with energy without oxygen. This kind of energy can be made available quickly to fuel the working muscles. With a higher intensity workout, you’ll be able to achieve the same results in a shorter length of time.

3. Greater Benefits

With working out in a shorter period of time with greater effort, you will better be able to achieve greater results. Some of the side effects/benefits include a “runner’s high”, increased metabolism and ability to improve your insulin response. Because you’re only working out for a shorter time, you’re more likely to work out harder and therefore gain these benefits a lot easier.

4.  Harder Work

With only a small time frame of work, we are more likely to work harder Tallan says. “Workout structures like Tabata particularly tend to get the best out of people because clients can see the finish line.”  

Only have a small window to workout? Try our Tabata workout for the time-poor exerciser! This is a great set of exercises to do and can be done almost anywhere. If you really are time poor, you can even complete these steps when hopping out of bed before hitting the shower and getting ready for work, so there really is no excuse to get a quick workout into your day.

Complete eight thirty second rounds of each exercise, putting in twenty seconds of work and resting for ten seconds.

1. Running with high knees on the spot

Run on the spot on the balls of your feet (heels of the ground), making sure your knees rise to become parallel with the ground. Make sure you swing your arms by your side to maintain the stability of your gait. Ensure that you land each foot with soft knees to prevent high impact forces through the legs.

2. Push Ups

Assume a face down position on the floor, on hands and knees or toes pending ability. Hands are positioned slightly wider than shoulder width (approx 1 ½ times) and in line with the mid-sternum while looking down at the floor. Lower the body towards the floor as low as good form allows, maintaining a stable body and neutral spine with abs activated. Lift the body keeping the elbows soft on extension.

3. Static Lunge

Assume a standing posture. One foot steps forwards and back heel is lifted off the ground - weight is supported on the front foot and ball of the back foot (more weight is transferred to the front foot as the client gains skill and balance). Bend the hips and knees simultaneously to ‘lunge’ and lower the body, the front knee will be over the front foot and the back knee will bend towards the ground. Keep the feet in line with knees and hips; look forwards. Push through both feet and lift body to return to start. Complete as many repetitions as you can whilst maintaining perfect form whilst alternating each leg.

About

Tallan is the Training Team Captain at the Australian Institute of Fitness in WA. He has been in the fitness industry for over 11 years, and has had over 200 WAFL games for Swan Districts Football Club, as well as appearances for WA.

This content is not intended to be used as individual health or fitness advice divorced from that imparted by medical, health or fitness professionals. Medical clearance should always be sought before commencing an exercise regime. The Institute and the authors do no take any responsibility for accident or injury caused as a result of this information.

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