Could high intensity training work for you?

Free Cardio in Less Than 10 Minutes

by Gilles Beaudin, M.Sc

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Do you want to get fit on the cheap? Use your body. There's no need to spend money on a gym membership or fitness equipment. Your body is the ultimate exercise machine. You just have to know how to use it.

The traditional approach to improving aerobic fitness involves long training sessions. This is the kind of workouts that endurance athletes would do. In a world where time is money and every minute matters, is this an effective way to get healthy?

High intensity training or HIT has been getting a lot of ink lately. Maybe you gave it a try yourself. We are all curious because they promise quick benefits for a short time commitment. Those workouts have different names but they are all very hard, intense, short bouts of activity, followed by rest or low level activity. But can this really improve your aerobic fitness? If you want to maximize your exercise time, read on.

Option 1: 7.5 minutes

It takes 30 seconds. Perform 15 Jump Squats, as high as you can. Then take 3 minutes rest. Repeat 3 times. The key is to always jump as high as possible. Just make sure you can do a basic squat first. The exercise should gradually feel harder. Do this twice a week.

Option 2: 8 minutes

Combine 2 exercises, one for lower body and one for upper body. As an example, do lunges and push-ups. Do as many lunges as you can in 30 seconds. Take 60 seconds rest and do the same for push-ups. Do 3 sets of each.

If you decide to give it a go, keep in mind that this is close to a max effort. When you are short on time, you compensate by working harder. You want to activate as many muscle fibers as possible. Not everyone is willing to work that hard. It is very uncomfortable. So you have to be physically and mentally ready for the challenge.

Before you start, make sure you can perform the exercises with proper form. If you skip this step, you will get hurt. So pick exercises that match your skill and fitness levels. Also, if you are sedentary, your first objective should be to create a habit of exercise using low to moderate intensity activities. Then you gradually increase the intensity. Fitness is not rocket science. Challenge your body a little and it will adapt to make its job easier.

So there you go. It takes very little time and zero money. And it's a green workout because no electricity was needed. It doesn't get any more frugal.

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