Proponents of HIIT workouts have long known that short bursts of intense exercise are as beneficial as hours spent slogging away on the treadmill, and now a new study has proved them right.
According to the research by Victoria University, published by the American Physiological society, just two minutes of high-intensity exercise is as good for you, at a cellular level at least, as a 30-minute moderate workout.
The research showed that sprinting on an exercise bike for 30 seconds (repeated 4 times) was enough to trigger mitochondrial activity, creating more energy.
Mitochondria are the cell’s powerhouses and as such, when they begin to multiply, our cells have the potential to generate more energy.
Participants in the study completed three different workouts: riding continuously for 30 minutes at no more than 50 per cent effort, 5 x four-minute rides at 75 per cent effort and four sprints at max effort for 30 seconds.
When researchers analysed the mitochondria found in the thigh muscles of the participants they found those who sprinted for 30 seconds were set to reproduce in the same way as those who had ridden for 30 minutes.
The results of the admittedly small study (there were only eight participants) suggests that exercise really can be tailored for individual needs and that the benefits of working out aren’t restricted to solely those who put in hours at the gym.
Clearly, if you want to lose weight or build muscle, you’re going to need to do more than two minutes of exercise at a time. That said, if there’s one thing you can take from this study it’s that quality is nearly always better than quantity. A hard 45 minutes in the gym is more than enough.