Can you really GET FIT IN ONE MINUTE?

A new book by the guru of HUT workouts, Martin Gibala, claims so. We take a look at the theory – and what his speedy sessions involve

Whatever type of fitness you’re into, you’ll be familiar with the term HIIT, or high-intensity interval training – youtried this type of go-hard, go-easy approach. Here at H&F we’re big fans of HIIT workouts for fast fitness gains. So when the latest book from US Professor Martin Gibala – a pioneer of HIIT since 2005 – landed on our desks, we were keen to learn what was new – especially when we clocked the title.In The One Minute Workout (Vermilion, £14.99), Gibala talks you through the history of HIIT. It’s been the most popular fitness phenomenon of the past decade and acknowledged since the mid-1990s as an efficient way to boost not just cardio fitness, but strength and overall health and longevity, too.

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And, as the book explains,HIIT has been used in various forms by elite athletes since as far back as the 1920s.So what’s new now? In his quest for the most time-efficient workout, Gibala spends all his time researching different HIIT approaches. ‘People are always asking me“How little can you get away with?” she says. And while the book details eight moreclassic, longer sessions, its USP is his ‘Microworkouts’, including the 60-second promise. ‘One of the most exciting areas of cutting-edge exercise physiology is the new science of ultralow-volume interval training,’ he says. ‘Influenced by a 2011 UK study investigating the minimal amount of exercise that could improve health, we developed our one-minute protocol for previously sedentary people who sought a time-efficient way to experience big improvements in overall fitness.‘Our latest study shows that just 10 minutes of low-intensity activity [such as walking], with a single minute’s worth of hard exercise at an all-out pace [think sprinting, broken down into three, twenty-second blasts within the overall 10 minutes], provides the benefits of 50 minutes of traditional endurance training.’ Sounds pretty good to us.


Allyn Condon, a sports coach, ex-Olympian And trainer for The Gym, Bristol, isn’t so sure that this method alone is enough.‘HIIT can be a fun and useful way to work out,’ he says. ‘Anyone from fitness beginners to elite athletes can use it as part of their training. But you need to take the ‘intensity’ element seriously and really push yourself to the limit during the efforts; simply varying the pace a bit won’t count.’Condon also says he’s wary of suggesting people can get and maintain fitness in a few minutes a week. ‘Despite the research, I don’t see how that can work,’ he says. ‘It’s playing down the many and varied benefits a greater commitment to exercise can give. It’s not just physical -what about the mental-health benefits, the sense of community, the “me time”?’In other words, sometimes a fast workout fits nicely into your day, but other times a 90-minute yoga class, a day’s hiking or a fun few hours’ mountain biking are what your body and mind really needs.‘By all means incorporate HIIT for a performance spike,’ says Condon. ‘And a few minutes’ work is definitely better than none if you’re short on time. But I believe a range of different activities, durations, paces and efforts is a better approach for all-round wellbeing.’

Can you really GET FIT IN ONE MINUTE?


While that makes sense for already active people, Gibala is clear that his one-minute protocol was devised for those new to exercise. And in that respect, it’s surely an easy win? Not least when you consider that over a 12-week period, testers following the session three times a week got the same benefits as a group doing endurance training for three, 45-minute sessions. That’s right, the same cardiorespiratory benefits in sedentary people who exercised for three minutes a week, as 135 minutes a week!If you, or someone you know, wants to improve their health and begin to get fit, surely it’s worth a try? Here’s how to do it.


1.Warm up with some light physical activity (for example, walking or jogging for 3 minutes at an easy pace.

2. Blast through a 20-second sprint at an all-out pace.

3. Rest with some light activity at a very low intensity for 2 minutes.

4. Blast through another 20-second sprint at top speed.

5. Repeat the cycle until you’ve completed 3 sprints.

6 .End with a 2-minute cool-down so the session lasts a total of 10 minutes You can customise the sprint activity to any full-body movement that significantly elevates your heart rate, such as stair climbing, running on the spot or treadmill running. ■


If you’re already active, you could try this tougher alternative. ‘If I could do only one type of workout, it would be this one,’ says Gibala. ‘It’s designed to enhance strength and cardio fitness and includes bodyweight training for upper- and lower-body strength, as well as active recovery periods that keep the heart rate elevated for cardio gains.


Alternate bodyweight resistance exercises (such as push-ups, pull-ups and squats; or mountain climbers, burpees and lunges) with some type of cardio (think cycling, stair climbing or running) in repeating 30-second intervals. The bodyweight exercises should be performed hard (effort level 10), such that you ‘fail’ by the end of the 30-second period. Reduce the intensity somewhat for the cardio intervals but keep it vigorous (effort level 5 to 8) to keep your heart rate up. Keep going for a total of 10 minutes.


Keep changing the types of exercises you do to keep working your body to the max. You can do this workout indoors or outdoors.

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