How to get the ben­e­fits of high-in­ten­sity in­ter­val train­ing in three min­utes

Great Health Guide - - CONTENTS - Kusal Goonewar­dena

Icon­tinue to be amazed at how small changes can have a big pos­i­tive im­pact on peo­ple’s lives. One that keeps con­found­ing the doubters is the re­sults we are see­ing from shorter, high in­ten­sity work­outs.

We have known for some time that 15 min­utes of in­ter­val train­ing three times a week will pro­vide bet­ter re­sults than jog­ging on a tread­mill for an hour ev­ery day. But like most health pro­fes­sion­als, I have been sur­prised at how short the high in­ten­sity train­ing in­ter­vals can, be while still hav­ing an im­pact.

Stud­ies by the Nor­we­gian Univer­sity of Science and Tech­nol­ogy found pos­i­tive re­sults from four min­utes of vig­or­ous ex­er­cise just three times a week. Par­tic­i­pants in these stud­ies showed a 50% im­prove­ment in their aer­o­bic ca­pac­i­ties af­ter 12 weeks. Other ben­e­fits in­clude in­creased stamina and re­duced chances of heart dis­ease, hy­per­ten­sion and di­a­betes. In 2015, ABC TVs Cat­a­lyst pro­gram also ex­plored short, high in­ten­sity work­outs, with strong re­sults in­clud­ing im­proved aer­o­bic ca­pac­ity, weight loss, a lower rest­ing heart rate and more.

You may also be fa­mil­iar with Dr Michael Mose­ley’s per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ences with 20-sec­ond bursts on an ex­er­cise bike, which helped him con­trol di­a­betes.

To keep my ath­letes in tune, I de­vel­oped a three minute work­out, which works the whole body and is ex­plored in my book 3 Minute

Work­outs. I have used this work­out for over a year on my­self, with my phys­io­ther­apy pa­tients and with elite ath­letes and have been pleas­antly sur­prised at the re­sults.

My per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence and that of many pa­tients, is that they look and feel fit­ter and stronger and of­ten lose a few ki­los.

If you love run­ning or swim­ming for an hour, keep go­ing. But if you’re time-strapped, or just look­ing for that ex­tra boost, the good news is that it takes less time than you think.

Be­fore any­one com­mits to any high in­ten­sity regime, it’s im­por­tant to know your sys­tem is strong enough to take it. Any­one with a heart con­di­tion should check with their gen­eral prac­ti­tioner first.


Un­less you play a de­mand­ing sport, peo­ple rarely push out of their phys­i­cal com­fort zone. High in­ten­sity ex­er­cise forces the body from its com­fort zone and that is when you see real ben­e­fits.


Par­tic­i­pants need to train at 85% of their ca­pac­ity for high in­ten­sity. The Nor­we­gian re­search shows the heart rate needs to reach min­i­mum 85% ca­pac­ity for the ben­e­fits to show. At 85% you are suf­fi­ciently push­ing your­self out of the com­fort zone. Your heart rate is up, you are breath­ing heav­ily, which al­lows you to im­prove fit­ness faster than mod­er­ate ex­er­cise. How­ever, 85% is one

High in­ten­sity ex­er­cise is a pow­er­ful com­ple­ment to lower in­ten­sity ex­er­cise.

step away from go­ing ab­so­lutely flat out. Go­ing 100% can push you too far and cre­ate in­juries.


My Three Minute Work­out in­volves:

• 30 sec­onds of Shadow Box­ing

• 30 sec­onds of Push Ups

• 30 sec­onds of Squat Jumps

• 30 sec­onds of High Knee Run­ning (on the spot)

• 30 sec­onds of Star Jumps

• 30 sec­onds of Sit Ups

Us­ing these ex­er­cises gives you a bal­anced work­out, im­pact­ing the core, up­per and lower body and the aer­o­bic and anaer­o­bic sys­tems. There are vari­a­tions pos­si­ble as dis­cussed in the book, along with some im­por­tant notes on tech­nique.

Any­one can do these ex­er­cises be­cause you’re go­ing at 85% of your own ca­pac­ity. For ex­am­ple, many women find push-ups dif­fi­cult. If it’s too hard I rec­om­mend do­ing them from your knees first. If you can only do a few that’s fine, it’s your base­line. Over time you will be able to do more and even­tu­ally you may be able to stretch your whole body out and do push ups the hard way.


• Re­search shows short du­ra­tion, high in­ten­sity ex­er­cise can be more ef­fec­tive than longer, mod­er­ate ex­er­cise

• Aim for 85% of your ca­pac­ity – go­ing at 100% risks in­jury

• Do your re­search and see a med­i­cal pro­fes­sional if you have any ques­tions or con­cerns.

Kusal Goonewar­dena is an ex­pe­ri­enced phys­io­ther­a­pist who con­sults via his clinic, Elite Akademy. He be­lieves pas­sion­ately that phys­io­ther­apy pa­tients should see pos­i­tive re­sults in three ses­sions or less. Kusal has au­thored books in­clud­ing: Low Back Pain – 30

Days to Pain Free; 3 Minute Work­outs; and coau­thored Nat­u­ral Heal­ing: Quiet and Calm, all cur­rently avail­able via Wilkin­son Pub­lish­ing. When not con­sult­ing, Kusal is is a lec­turer, au­thor, con­sul­tant and men­tor to thou­sands of phys­io­ther­apy stu­dents around the world and can be con­tacted on his web­site.

Ex­er­cises in the ‘ 3 Minute Work­out’ re­quire no equip­ment and can be done any­where.

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