3 Activities Offering Great Results in as Little as 10-Minutes

There are literally hundreds of different exercises and unique movement patterns you can do to improve your cardiovascular fitness level. The best one, however, is the one you end up sticking with.

Researchers led by Martin Gibala, PhD, at McMaster University in Canada, developed a protocol of high-intensity interval training that involves just one-minute of strenuous effort, at about 90 percent of a person’s maximum heart rate, followed by one-minute of easy recovery. They reported that the process repeated ten times, meaning a total exercise times of 20-minutes, should be carried out just twice a week and it gets significant results in just a few weeks. You can use this same format but complete five rounds instead of ten used by the research group and you have a great 10-minute workout.

A 2013 study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found 10-minute “bursts” of exercise added to your daily quota of exercise, will you results.  It concluded that ‘some exercise is better than nothing’ and that by adding small bouts of exercise you can have big impact.

Here are three of my personal favorites to do over the course of a typical training week. They should be used on your off days, in addition to your strength training sessions. Build up, slowly, performing each activity for 10-minutes and focus on quality rather than quantity before looking to progress. When it comes to high intensity interval training it’s about one word, intensity! Use a heart rate monitor to see how hard you’re initially working.

  1. Jumping Rope – Try to maintain a minimum of 120 revolutions or “toe-taps” per minute. Build up to 10-minutes. Work on different movement patterns using both double and single leg routines when jumping. Progress to a weighted jump rope when the time is right. At times I use this high-tech jump rope that actually keeps track or counts the number of jumps.
  1. Rowing – A great full body workout but when performed correctly, 75 percent of your effort should be coming from the waist down. Here are two great protocols to try for 10 minutes using different variations like single foot, double, cross-country skiing and side-to-side movements.
source: http://sykes.com.au
  • 30-20-10 protocol – row easy for 5:00 to warm-up. Then row 30-seconds at a low intensity, followed by 20-seconds using a moderate intensity and finally, row all out, high intensity, for 10-seconds. Repeat x 5 and cool-down. Progress for doing this x 10 rounds.
  • 500 meter splits – warm-up then row 500 meters at a good stroke per minute pace, followed by 2:00 of recovery and repeat for 5 rounds. If you’re new to rowing decrease the work time (rowing) and increase the recovery to 3:00. Record each round and compare how consistent your times are for each 2:00 round.
  1. Tabata Protocol – This is a great template because it can be done anywhere, including in the pool, running, hill work, on an elliptical or treadmill, using specific body weight exercises, on a bike, etc. Warm-up for 4:00 then use maximum effort for 20-seconds of work and 10-seconds of recovery and repeat for 8 rounds and then cool-down. Download a free Tabata app for your smartphone to help you follow along.

There you have it, three great activities, that all burn maximal calories in minimal time. Each one will help build not only work capacity, but also increase strength and boost energy levels.

How to Maximize Muscle Adaptation

It is clear as day that building muscle mass is a painful process that demands considerable devotion, diligence, time, planning, and physical endurance. Unfortunately, most people will stop pursuing this goal within the first six months of training. This is because reaching such formidable level of fitness and definition can protract, cause impatience, and as well as having improper training, can lead to lousy results and loss of enthusiasm. Still, there should be no room for discouragement; a sound body doesn’t go anywhere without a sound mind. Developing a stable and focused mind set is the first step to succeeding in this endeavor.

So, how do you train adequately? How do you stimulate muscle growth and memory? “When muscles are used they adapt and change. Changes are dependent on the type of activity and muscle fiber types used, the load exerted on the muscle, and the velocity and duration of the contraction.” (Marieb, 2004) The point is to persevere through all the hardships, because muscular growth or hypertrophy can only be accomplished through these adaptations and changes. It takes about 16 workouts to have a noticeable ‘superficial’ effect. There is simply no other recipe to do this in a healthy, orderly, and long-lasting manner.

Training stimulus

Photo Credit: http://fitnesshealth101.com

Without a training stimulus, you won’t get any proper results. This will be the main goal that everyone has to with when having such individually rough training regimes. Otherwise, everything can go down the drain. The highlight should be put on systematically overloading your body in a progressive pace in order to reach a momentary failure with each new set of exercise. This is what develops your base level of strength, and the same thing goes with your aerobic capacity when it comes to cardio. High interval training on a bike, rowing machine, elliptical, or plain sprinting will get your body working. Be consistent when using protocols like Tabata (8 series of 20 seconds of intense work, followed by 10 seconds of rest), or Gibala (30 seconds of same intense work, 4 minutes of recovery done at least 4 times).

“Whether training for sports performance or health enhancement, much of the success of the program will be attributable to the effectiveness of the exercise prescription in manipulating the progression of the resistance stimulus, the variation in the program design and the individualization of the program.” (Kraemer, 1994)

Diet and protein intake

Health comes within the body, and, what we eat influences how the body functions. In this meticulous, physically empowering case, it’s very important to keep track of the required amount of protein needed to maximize the process known as protein synthesis. This is what gets the engines running! It’s up to you to estimate how your body reacts to 1 gram of protein intake per kilo, and slowly progress comparing the effects with the same dose (but only per pound of your bodyweight). On average, it will all boil down to about 20-30 grams of necessary protein intake with each meal or snack. The best way to continue nurturing yourself in this fashion is by drinking whey protein, especially after workout and before going to sleep.

Rest and sleep

Resting is part of a workout, just as silence is a part of music. You have to know when to put your previously strained body at ease in order for it to heal, and reap what it has sowed while pumping iron. Naturally, 7-8 hours of uninterrupted, comfortable sleep each night is crucial. This is important, because it reduces the production of cortisol (the stress hormone) which can otherwise put you in a very disruptive situation should it overrun your system. Still, the primary reason why sleep is so important is pretty simple – health! Only when your body is fully regenerated, stout, and free of fatigue, you can effectively train to the max. On the other hand, once your body is weak and spent, you should aim to pacify such ailments and get back on track as soon as possible, no two ways about it.

Finally, remember to do your research, because any additional information that can help you in this process is always beneficial. Consult yourself with professionals, see what other enthusiasts know, think and feel, check if there are some answers online, and primarily get all of your facts straight. The more you discover, implement, and analyze, the better you are at figuring out what suits your body’s growth and strengthening the best.


VsafL3XZ_400x400Mathews McGarry is passionate about many forms of strength training, and spent years lifting, dragging and flipping all manner of heavy objects. After graduating from the Faculty of Health Sciences, he started writing about his experiences, and sharing tips for better life at highstylife.com and other health blogs. Follow him on Twitter.

Get in Fantastic Shape with this 4 Minute Workout

Are you spending a lot of time at the gym but not seeing the results you want? Maybe you want to get in better shape but can’t find time to go to the gym? What if you could get in fantastic shape exercising only 4 minutes each day, 4-5 days week? What if you could do all the exercises at home without buying any equipment? You can. This article will teach you how.

Source: Stack 52

Tabata interval training is a highly effective training protocol designed to produce exceptional results in a very short period of time. In 4 short minutes, you get a complete workout that will improve your fitness performance, build muscle, and burn fat.

Tabata interval training is very simple. Perform 20 seconds of maximum intensity exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest. Repeat 8 times without pause for a total of 4 minutes. The 4 minutes are challenging and very intense, but yield better results than 60 minutes of aerobic exercise.

The Science

In his ground breaking study, Dr. Tabata had two different groups of athletes perform two different exercise regimes, and then he compared the results. The first group exercised for 60 minutes, 5 days/week at an intermediate intensity. The second group exercised using short but very intense intervals (20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest for 8 rounds, for a total of 4 minutes). After 6 weeks, Dr. Tabata found:

  • Group 1 improved their aerobic capacity by 9.5% but got no improvement in anaerobic capacity
  • Group 2 (the interval trained group) improved their aerobic capacity by 14% and their anaerobic capacity by 28%

Later, a 2007 study in the Journal of Applied Physiology found high intensity interval training (HIIT) increased fat burning capacity in women after only 7 sessions over a 2 week period. In 2009, a study found that men performing HIIT doubled their metabolic rate and increased glucose and fatty acid oxidation (burned fat) for three hours after exercising.  In 2013, Dr. Olson found that a 4-minute Tabata routine of jump squats burned 13.5 calories per minute, (5 times the calories burned in the average cardio workout) and doubled the subjects’ metabolic rate for 30 minutes after the workout ended.

What Exercises Can Be Performed in Tabata Interval Training?

A variety of exercises can be performed, but they must be compound movements that activate a lot of muscle mass. So think squats, not calf raises. Bodyweight exercises like squats, sit-ups, and push-ups can be done as well as full body movements like burpees, sprints, or jumping jacks. You can also use weighted movements like deadlifts or power cleans. You can mix and match exercises depending on your fitness goals.

How to Perform a Tabata Interval Workout, Step by Step

Step 1: Plan the Exercises

Determine the exercises you will perform. No equipment or gym membership? No problem. Bodyweight exercises are perfect for Tabata interval training. Go to http://strength.stack52.com/periodic-table-of-bodyweight-exercises/ for a periodic table of bodyweight exercises complete with instructional videos on how to correctly perform each exercise. They are arranged by difficulty, so you can pick exercises that fit your fitness level. Don’t have time to plan the exercises? You can use Strength Stack 52 bodyweight exercise cards. Simply shuffle the deck and deal yourself 8 cards.

Step 2: Warm up

Start with some dynamic stretching and then perform full body movements (jogging, rowing, etc.) that increase your body temperature until you achieve a light sweat.  As you warm up, get fired up and mentally prepare for an intense 4 minutes. Remember, a 4 minute workout is more fun than a 60 minute workout, and it’s more effective too!

Step 3: Get a Clock

Get a clock or stop watch handy. Better yet, if you have smartphone or computer go to http://www.tabatatimer.com/ for a Tabata timer with voice commands that tell you when to start, stop, and rest between intervals.

Step 4: Workout

Set the timer, get in position for the first exercise, and wait for the beginning bell to ring. Without sacrificing technique, get as many reps as possible for each exercise in 20 seconds. So if you’re doing squats, try to get as many squats as possible using good technique before the 20 second timer is up.  When the timer rings, stop the exercise, breathe deeply, and get in position for the next exercise. Repeat this for all 8 intervals at the highest intensity you can manage.

Step 5: Cool down

Yes, you just finished an awesome workout, and it only took 4 minutes! You will be thoroughly exhausted. Breathe deeply and walk briskly until your heart rate and breathing returns to normal. Finish by lightly stretching your muscles.

The Stack 52 4-Minute Workout

Want to get started right away? Try the Stack 52 4-Minute Tabata Workout. First watch the video of each exercise and practice a few reps to make sure you know how to perform the exercise. This will help you warm up to a light sweat. Then get your Tabata timer ready and go for it!

Round 1: 20 Seconds of bodyweight Squats

10 Seconds of Rest

Round 2: 20 Seconds of Push-Ups

10 Seconds of Rest

Round 3: 20 Seconds of Mason Twists

10 Seconds of Rest

Round 4: 20 Seconds of Burpees

10 Seconds of Rest

Round 5: 20 Seconds of Diamond Push-Ups

10 Seconds of Rest

Round 6: 20 Seconds Vertical Crunches

10 Seconds of Rest

Round 7: 20 Seconds of Clock Lunges

10 Seconds of Rest

Round 8: 20 Seconds of Mountain Climbers

10 Seconds of Rest


Not only can you get a great workout in only 4 minutes, you will get results faster than anyone doing 60 minutes of cardio at the gym. Tabata interval training is wonderfully challenging and extremely effective. After a few weeks, you will notice your overall fitness has dramatically increased, and you have burned a lot of fat. I worked out for 10 years at gyms, and I never had 6-pack abs until I started doing Tabata interval training. If you play sports, you will notice that you can play with much more intensity for longer periods without getting winded. You will run circles around your friends who will think you’re some kind of freak who doesn’t get tired.  You can become extremely fit and love the way you look working out for just 4 minutes a day, 5 days a week. That’s only 20 minutes a week! You can do this, and if you use bodyweight exercises, you can do it anywhere without equipment!

If you have preexisting health problems or are not used to performing exercise at a high intensity, be sure to check with your doctor before attempting Tabata interval training. Remember to start at your own pace and increase the intensity as you are able.

This article was written by Kurt Boyd, fitness fanatic, and director of Strength Stack 52, a unique way to transform bodyweight exercises into fun, competitive workouts that can be performed anywhere.


Tabata I. et. al.  Effects of moderate-intensity endurance and high-intensity intermittent training on anaerobic capacity and VO2max.  Med Sci Sports Exerc. (1996) 28(10):1327-30.

Talanian J. et. al. Two weeks of high-intensity aerobic interval training increases the capacity for fat oxidation during exercise in women. Journal of Applied Physiology Apr 2007, 102 (4) 1439-1447

Gibala M. et. al. Brief intense interval exercise activates AMPK and p38 MAPK signaling and increases the expression of PGC-1α in human skeletal muscle. Journal of Applied Physiology Mar 2009, 106 (3) 929-934

Olsen, M. O. Tabata Interval Exercise: Energy Expenditure and Post-Exercise Responses

Scharff-Olson Kinesiology Lab, Auburn University Montgomery, Montgomery, AL

The Research Backing HIIT: High-Intensity Interval Training

The buzzword in the fitness industry this past year was definitely high-intensity interval training, also referred to as HIIT. HIIT reached the number one spot in the 2014 survey for exercise trends published by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). According to one source, HIIT will end up at the number two spot for 2015 on that same ACSM list, replaced by body weight exercise as the new exercise trend. HIIT however is not a new to the spotlight, it has been around for more than a century. Some of the greatest runners in the world have used various forms of HIIT as part of their training. As early as 1912, the Finnish Olympic long-distance runner Hannes Kolehmainen was using interval training in his workouts (Billat 2001). Research has demonstrated that HIIT:

• Improves the performance of competitive athletes.

• Improves health outcomes for recreational exercisers.

• Provides the same benefits of endurance training but with fewer workouts covering less time.

One thing you can bank on, HIIT gets results, when done correctly. HIIT is one of the most effective means of improving cardiorespiratory and metabolic function in both athletes and recreational exercisers. HIIT involves repeated short-to-long bouts of high-intensity exercise (90-100% VO2max) interspersed with recovery periods. The term HIIT can be used to

Photo credit: http://intervaltraining.net
Photo credit: http://intervaltraining.net

describe protocols in which the training stimulus is near maximal effort or the target intensity is between 80 and 100% of maximal heart rate. HIIT typically involves repeated short bouts of exercise (<45 seconds) to long bouts (2-4 minutes) of high-intensity exercise interspersed with recovery periods. Traditional high volume aerobic exercise training has been shown to reduce cardiovascular and metabolic disease risk but involves a significant investment of time. Extremely low volume HIIT has been shown to produce improvements to aerobic function.

Humpreys and Holman credit the famous German coach Woldemar Gerschler, as the person who formalized a structured system of interval training back in the 1930’s. Exercise Physiologists Fox and Matthews have identified the following five variables that need to be adjusted individually for each athlete during a HIIT session:

-Rate and distance of the work interval.

-Number of repetitions and sets during each training session.

-Duration of the rest, recovery or relief interval.

-Type of activity during the rest interval.

-Frequency of training per week.

The following list includes just a few of the many research studies that have been published looking at various health and fitness benefits of HIIT.

  • A 2011 study presented at the ACSM annual meeting showed 2 weeks of HIIT improved aerobic capacity as much as 6-8 weeks of traditional endurance training.
  • A 2006 study found after doing 8 weeks if HIIT subjects could bike twice as long when they started the study while maintaining the same pace.
  • Researchers from Canada’s McMaster University looked at the effects of interval exercise on VO2max. Training was performed on a stationary cycle ergometer for three days each week. The program began with four intervals lasting 30 seconds each, separated by a 4-minute rest period. By the seventh week the number of intervals had increased to ten, while the rest intervals were gradually reduced to 2.5 min. VO2max increased by 9%, demonstrating that significant gains in VO2max could be achieved from exercise of a relatively short duration.
  • A group of researchers from Japan’s National Institute of Fitness and Sport found a high-intensity intermittent training program achieved bigger gains in VO2max than a program of steady cycling. Active male subjects were assigned to one of two groups, each training 5 days per week for 6 weeks. One group followed a training program involving 60-minutes of moderate intensity exercise (@70% VO2max), totaling 5 hours per week. The average improvement in VO2max in this group was 9%. Training sessions involving the other group consisted of eight all-out work bouts, each lasting 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds of rest (Tabata et al., 1997). This group cycled for a total of only 20 minutes per week, but their VO2max still improved significantly by 15%.
  • A study from the University of New South Wales in Australia, found women lost an average of 10.5% of their fat mass after just 15-weeks on a 3x/wk program using 20 minute workouts consisting of 8 second sprints (on a stationary bike) followed by 12 seconds of passive recovery = 60 total sprints. Subjects in a control group lost considerably less fat doing traditional endurance exercise despite spending roughly 400% more time pedaling.


Billat, L.V (2001). Interval training for performance: A scientific and empirical practice. Special recommendations for middle-and long-distance running. Part I: aerobic interval training. Sports Medicine, 31(1): 13-31.

MacDougall, J.D., et al. (1998). Muscle performance and enzymatic adaptations to sprint interval training. Journal of Applied Physiology, 84 (6): 2138–2142.

Tabata I, Irisawa K, Kouzaki M, Nishimura K, Ogita F, Miyachi (1997). Metabolic profile of high intensity intermittent exercises. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 29(3): 390-395.

Gibala MJ, Little JP, van Essen M, Wilkin GP, Burgomaster KA, Safdar A, Raha S, and Tarnopolsky MA (2006). Short-term sprint interval versus traditional endurance training: similar initial adaptations in human skeletal muscle and exercise performance. The Journal of Physiology, 575, 901-911.