Super-Short Workouts Shouldn’t Be Your Only Exercise

Dearest Fellow Athletes,

In the past few days, you may have come across the wildly popular New York Times article titled, “1 Minute of All-Out Exercise May Have Benefits of 45 Minutes of Moderate Exertion.” Such a promise would understandably get busy go-getters like you all up in a tizzy, dreaming about Insta-fitness and newfound time. That is why I must say, in the kindest way possible, this article is not for you, nor is the study it’s based on.

Source: You Need More Than One Minute of Exercise a Day

I think half an hour is actually a really good session time, maybe even optimal, IF you are training both hard and smart.

Most folks look at total time in the gym, and don’t factor in the types of exercise they are performing, (bang for your buck?), and the amount of time spent resting. Generally, one can either train hard, or train long, but not really both!  I think that the real, significant variable that effects tangible results in training is amount of challenging volume performed, or, if you prefer, number of hard sets.  The more ambitious your goal, the more time that may need to be spent, certainly. But more is not always better, sometimes more is just more.  Most trainees desire a mixture of improved body composition, (more muscle, less fat), and improved strength.

A few simple general guidelines for these goals come to mind:

  • train compound movements (squats, deadlifts, presses, pulls, rows, cleans, etc.) with solid form,
  • train at a relatively brisk pace, heart rate recovering to about 100 bpm, between sets
  • taking sets near technical failure, a rep or two before form breaks down, and compensatory form begins

Following these parameters, half and hour of strength training is plenty of time to spur positive adaptations.