12 Minutes of Exercise is All You Need to Make a Huge Difference

It’s been shown to improve cardiovascular health, burn more fat than a regular workout, and even boost metabolism by up to 450 percent in the 24 hours after you do it. It’s high-intensity interval training…and it sucks.

High-intensity interval training—which alternates between intense bursts of activity and a more moderate pace—has been proven to have a ton of health benefits…if only anyone would actually do them. As Gretchen Reynolds writes for the New York Times, “Many people don’t like them and soon abandon the program.” Reynolds cites a 2014 study that had inactive adults perform two common types of high-intensity interval workouts over the course of 12 weeks, one with 30 seconds of intense effort and one with four minutes of intense effort. The participants’ fitness improvement? “Moderate,” according to the researchers, likely because they didn’t adhere strictly to the program in a real-world setting.

Reynolds spoke to Jens Bangsbo, a professor of physiology at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, who noted that high-intensity workout studies at his lab produced participants who were “fitter, faster and healthier.” The difference, Reynolds explains, is that “…those studies typically had involved highly motivated athletes riding high-tech stationary bicycles and had been supervised by the scientists, who personally had cajoled the participants to complete each interval.”

So how do real people in real-life settings make high-intensity interval training more practical…and dare we say, even enjoyable? (Well, as enjoyable as anything can be when you’re wearing Spandex). 10-20-30 training. Dr. Bangsbo developed the routine for athletes and beginners alike—start by working out (run, bike, row) gently for 30 seconds, accelerate to a moderate pace for 20 seconds, and finally go as hard as you can for the last 10 seconds. Then repeat, repeat, repeat.

“The enticements of this particular program are many,” says Reynolds. “It is easy to remember and low-tech, requiring no gym membership, heart rate monitor, or flow chart, as some complicated interval programs seem to demand. You don’t even need a stopwatch to monitor the 30-, 20-, and 10-second time changes. You can, like me, count to yourself, which seems to make the intervals pass quickly.” And, best of all, the intense burst of effort last just 10 seconds, a completely manageable number of seconds. It also works—when Dr. Bangsbo tested it on 132 recreational runners, he found that almost all of them stuck to the 10-20-30 training after eight weeks, even shaving time off their 5K runs. Most had lower blood pressure, too.

Want to incorporate 10-20-30 training into your fitness routine? Replace one or two of your normal weekly workouts with the routine, warming up at an easy pace before completing five 10-20-30 intervals in a row. Rest for two minutes, repeat five 10-20-30 intervals once more, and then cool down. Your total workout time? 12 minutes. That’s something we can get behind.

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Leah C.
Leah C3 years ago

Thank you for sharing

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Feather W.
Feather W3 years ago

I can do this..

Leah Crowell
Leah C3 years ago

Always nice to see real world variations.

Kristy S.
Kristy S3 years ago

I am glad to have found this suggested 10-20-30 method because I do find other HIIT programs tough and usually go back to steady pace cardio which isn't giving the results I hope to achieve. I will definitely try this!

Dimitris Dallis
Past Member 3 years ago

12 minutes with a partner will make the huge difference :)

Angela K.
Angela K3 years ago

Thanks for sharing

Dt Nc
Dt Nc3 years ago

I thought it was seven minutes of HIT training.

Elena Poensgen
Elena Poensgen3 years ago

Thank you

Caroline d.
Caroline d3 years ago

Thank you for sharing this very interesting article !
Be all blessed as all your loved ones !
Animals always included, of course !