A recent study reveals that short sessions (a few minutes a day) of very intense workout can generate the same results as moderate exercises done for hours.
Martin Gibala, an associate professor of kinesiology at McMaster University and his team conducted this study on high intensity exercise and traditional endurance training that was published in the Journal of Physiology.
"The most striking finding from our study was the remarkably similar improvements in muscle health and performance induced by two such diverse training strategies," says Gibala.
Gibala's team came out with this proposal last year but their work then did not directly compare sprint with endurance training.
The new study was conducted on 16 men performing 6 training sessions over 2 weeks. Half of them performed 4-6 half-a-minute bursts of "all out" cycling separated by 4 minutes of recovery during each training session. The other half performed 90-120 minutes of continuous moderate-intensity cycling each day.
The total training time including recovery lasted 2 hours 30 minutes for the sprint group while it took 10 hours 30 minutes for the endurance group. In spite of the difference in training volume, both groups exhibited similar improvements in exercise performance and the muscle's ability to resist fatigue.
"Our study demonstrates that interval-based exercise is a very time-efficient training strategy," said Gibala. "This type of training is very demanding and requires a high level of motivation. However, short bursts of intense exercise may be an effective option for individuals who cite 'lack of time' as a major impediment to fitness."