Volume 12, Issue 21
Get better results from exercise
in half the time
How many of my readers love exercising? I mean really exercising. Not playing golf, bowling, working in the garden, or doing fun things. I'm talking about huffing and puffing, either running or in some other form of torture? I know that there are some of you out there who actually like doing that kind of thing. But I'm betting that most of you are like me. I exercise not because I like doing it. I exercise because I like what it does for me. So I'm always looking for a way to get more out of exercising in less time. And a recent study has some really good ideas on how to do just that.

In this study, the researchers looked at 18 men and women runners who were in great shape. All of them had VO2 max's greater than 50. Trust me, that's exceptional. VO2 measurements measure how efficiently your body uses oxygen to make energy. I take VO2 measurements on all of my patients. The reason is that the better a person's VO2s are, the longer and the better he or she will live. The researchers divided the participants into two groups. One continued to exercise just as they had been doing. The other group did something quite different. Here's what they did.

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Over a one-minute period, they ran for 30 seconds at a very easy pace, then they ran for 20 seconds at a moderate pace, then they ran for 10 seconds as hard as they could. They repeated these intervals five consecutive times for a total of five minutes. And then they rested for two minutes. And after this rest period they did another five minutes of intervals followed by a two minute rest. They did from four to five of these five-minute intervals followed by two minutes of rest. Here are the remarkable results after seven weeks of this kind of training.

First of all, their VO2 max increased by 4%. That might not sound like much, but it's a huge improvement. In addition, their times during a 1,500 meter run improved by 21 seconds, and the times in a 5 kilometer run improved by 48 seconds. And it gets better. Their blood pressure also improved. It dropped three to seven points on average. How did the folks in the other group fair? They had no improvement at all in anything including blood pressure. And here's the best part. The time that the interval group spent training was 50% less than the other guys. I like it! Better results in half the time? Where do I sign up?

Of course, these people are not the average. They are already in great shape. But here's the thing: The same principle will work for us non-competitive types. So will the same interval times. What's more, you don't have to jog to get these results. I'll show you how this applies to all of us on Friday.

Yours for better health,

Gunnarsson TP1, Bangsbo J. The 10-20-30 training concept improves performance and health profile in moderately trained runners. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2012 Jul;113(1):16-24.

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