Blog

Is 3-4 minutes of high intensity exercise enough?

Sean Lerwill in the starting blocks

Yesterday while training one of my clients (who by his own admission used to weigh in excess of 130kg and is now under 100kg and becoming pretty muscular), an overweight individual came into the private gym we were in and walked on the treadmill (at a pretty good pace to be honest) for about 30minutes.

This spurred a discussion between us about which is the best form of exercise for fat loss and for fitness.

Then, what hits the news again today? The “new” notion that short, intense exercise is better for gaining/keeping fitness and for changing your body.

The bottom line is, there are two things you need to really change your body: to remove excess body fat and gain some lean muscle that will help raise your metabolism and keep the body fat off:

  1. The right food intake (not a diet, a nutritionally sound way of eating everyday that is a lifestyle)
  2. Intensity in your training (to burn the most amount of calories in your session, help raise your metabolism and keep changes happening post your workout, which does not occur with slow based low intensity training).

So? What to do?

I introduce the majority of people I train and advise (after they have undergone a medical screening and advice from a doctor) to Tabata training.

One set of Tabata is four minutes work. This can be sprinting (on a treadmill or outside), rowing, cycling, swimming, even bodyweight squats or kettlebell swings. Anything really. The important part is to work as hard as you can for the short sharp working intervals, afterall, it’s only four minutes in total.

To perform Tabata, warm up with light, low intensity work for 2-5 minutes. Perform some mobility and dynamic stretches, then:

20 seconds as hard as possible, 10 seconds rest or very slow. Repeat this 8 times.

That’s it, simple right? It’s harder than it sounds. The idea is, if you work hard enough, that once through is actually enough. Four minutes and done for the day. However, I often enjoy a few minutes break before repeating twice more, making it around 15 minutes. Lastly, if you have an iPhone, iPad etc. You can download a free Tabata timer app and use that to tell you when to start and stop. No excuses…!

Sean Lerwill - Author

Sean is an former-Royal Marines Commando Officer & Physical Training Instructor. He has been published as a writer five times, has a BSc in Molecular Genetics and a Post Graduate Certificate in Education. He is also a MaxiNutrition ambassador.

New eBook: The Ration Pack Diet
Plus: Pass the PRMC