The Benefits of Keeping Workouts Short and Sweet

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The excuse that you don’t have time to fit in a workout is officially irrelevant. Instead of spending hours in the gym, research shows focusing your time on, shorter and more intense workouts yield greater benefits. According to Jonathan P. Little, assistant professor in the school of health and exercise sciences at the University of British Columbia, the benefit of HIIT workouts are simple.

“You can get away with doing less interval training compared with a continuous workout,” Little says in an article with WSJ. “There’s more bang for your buck.” And since Americans prove to be one of the most hard working counties getting more, for less is always a good option.

But how much extra are you really getting? Well, according to exercise physiologist and athletic trainer Scott Weiss, C.S.C.S., there is a significant difference between HIIT workouts and normal aerobic exercise. 

“HIIT burns more calories during and after a workout than continuous aerobic training,” says Weiss in an article with Men’s Fitness. “The bursts of increased intensity simply increase the caloric expenditure, thus, more total calories are burned aiding in better body composition. With HIIT, the total calories burned is greater in EPOC than with continuous exercise.”

Dr. Little explains why the intense movements affect your body in a much more positive way than a long slow jog or walk would. “When you go out for an easy walk, you call upon about 50% to 60% of your muscle fibers,” Dr. Little says to WSJ. “To do the work at a quicker pace calls upon 80% to 100% of your muscle fibers.”

Another benefit of short and intense workout is their unique ability to be completed almost anywhere, allowing you to complete this quick workout on the go or in your living room. 

According to Fitness, “It’s much easier to perform a short, intense workout. Jumps can be done just about anywhere. Med ball tosses can be performed against a wall. Olympic lifts need only a bar or a dumbbell. Slow, steady-state workouts need either a machine or a lot of space.”

The key to HIIT workouts, however, is knowing that you are giving it your all during the time you are working, and then taking only short breaks in between sets so that your heart rate can lower, before you again work toward maxing out your heart rate. Before you ditch your evening walks or aerobic exercise routines completely, remember that HIIT workouts are intense, and you should have some starting base of fitness before you try out intense interval training.

According to Fitness, “While short, intense exercise is highly beneficial and fairly simple it is not easy. You definitely need to be in shape before you attempt to train explosively. And the physical discomfort that accompanies some of these workouts can be quite high.”

Just a warning: Short does not mean easy. Short and sweet workouts will still kick your butt.

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