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New Study Reveals the Secret Trick for Getting Fit in Seconds

Researchers reveal the benefits of going all-out for just 4 seconds at a time.

Earlier this year, research published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise offered some welcome news for people who are out of shape and are looking to exercise as quickly as humanly possible and then move on with their day. In short, it found that going all out on an exercise bike that offers resistance for 4 seconds at a time—for 10 minutes total—were able to "significantly" improve their cardiovascular fitness and build muscle mass.

Now, a new study conducted by the same research team—which published in the same academic journal as the previous study—bolstered and expanded on those findings, while adding a new twist. Overall, it makes a strong case that working out in 4-second intervals may in fact be the ticket to a healthier, stronger, and leaner body even for people who are considered fit and healthy to begin with. Read on for more about this study and to learn what it means for you. And for more exercise advice can use starting ASAP, don't miss The Morning Exercises You Shouldn't Skip After Age 60, Says Science.

Let's Hop on the Power Cycle

Mature fit people biking in the gym, exercising legs doing cardio workout cycling bikes

The studies were conducted by researchers at the Human Performance Laboratory at the University of Texas at Austin. The first study required male and female participants in their 50s and 60s who were considered un-fit and put them on a Power Cycle (essentially, a stationary bike with a large flywheel that provides resistance). For 8 weeks, they did workouts that required them to go to maximum exertion for 4 seconds, followed by 15 or 30 seconds of rest.

It turns out that those rest periods are crucial. "Since the exercise is so powerful, your cardiovascular system is still stimulated during your rest periods," Edward Coyle, Ph.D., head of UT's Human Performance Laboratory, explained to Elemental at the time. "You're consuming a lot of oxygen, and you're recovering the energy stores that you used during the sprints."

Furthermore, the study found that the brief exercise was impactful on the participants' metabolic response, and was helpful in reducing the harmful effects of sitting. And for more great exercise tips, see these Secret Tricks for Walking for Exercise, According to Walking Experts.

Now, the New Study

stationary bike

In the new study, Coyle and his team recruited 11 healthy and fit young people of both genders to do a similar workout: 4 seconds of full-exertion bursts, followed by 15 seconds of rest. They did this for exercise every week for ten weeks, with no other forms of exercise. The results were staggering. "In that time, they added 13 percent to a crucial aerobic fitness measure and 17 percent to their muscular power, measured by how many watts they produced while pedaling the bike, the researchers found," reports The New York Times.

Coyle explained to the Times that this sort of workout—one rooted in 4 second bursts—can be applied to other forms of exercise, such as climbing stairs or sprinting. For more great fitness advice, see here for the Exercise Tricks for Slimming Down Your Body, Say Experts.

It's All About HIIT

hiit class

For what it's worth, there's a growing mountain of evidence that touts the benefits of high-intensity interval training (HIIT), or short bouts of rapid-fire exercise followed with short rest periods. According to a meta-analysis of more than 786 studies on the subject published in The British Journal of Sports Medicine, HIIT is the single best way to melt fat. "Interval training and [moderate-intensity continuous training (MOD)] both reduce body fat percentage," conclude the researchers. "Interval training provided 28.5% greater reductions in total absolute fat mass than MOD."

In another meta-analysis published in the journal Sports Medicine, researchers found that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) "significantly reduced total, abdominal, and visceral fat mass, with no differences between the sexes," while also noting that exercise that forced people to exceed "90% peak heart rate" was the most effective in losing weight. "HIIT is a time-efficient strategy to decrease fat-mass deposits, including those of abdominal and visceral fat mass," the researchers concluded.

Here's a Great Workout to Try

hiit workout

If you're not sold on the new 4 second workout, consider this amazing One-Minute Workout. And for more great workouts, see our full slate of options here.

William Mayle
William Mayle is a UK-based writer who specializes in science, health, fitness, and other lifestyle topics. Read more about William
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