Stuck on time or space to exercise? A newly published study may have the right exercise for you.
Start by raising your knees one at a time, like a marionette. Then squat, jump, lunge and do burpees for five minutes of calisthenics, with a few minutes of walking in between. You’ll get as much exercise as if you just ran hard on a treadmill at the gym, but without ever leaving your living room or work cubicle.
The study is one of the first to look at whether a fast body-weight workout can be called “high-intensity exercise,” said Gabriela Bellissimo, a doctoral student at the University of New Mexico at Albuquerque who led the new study.
The study indicates that the answer is yes. The results show that you can get an effective aerobic workout at home, or wherever you happen to be, in less time than it would take for a coffee break. The workout consists of five simple exercises: high knees, squat jumps, scissor lifts, jumping lunges, and modified pushups (no push-ups required).
There is one caveat: the exercises – or their simplified forms – must be performed with sufficient enthusiasm and energy.
Do each exercise vigorously for one minute, then gently walk or move in place for one minute. Scroll down to find easier versions of each exercise
For an explanation of the exercises that you can Download click here.
To see if this five-exercise bodyweight workout As effective as running in the gym, Bellissimo and her colleagues rounded up 12 healthy, active men and women in their 20s or early 30s. in one day, They asked them to run through a typical version of intervals, jogging on the treadmill at full speed for one minute, then walking for another minute. Participants repeated the run/walk interval five times, rested for two minutes, and then performed the entire exercise again. Each round of exercises lasted 11 minutes.
On another day, the workout shifted to the five popular moves designed to be taxing on the lower body. The volunteers lunged through as many of each exercise they could complete in one minute, stood still for a minute, and then headed to the next exercise. After resting for two minutes at the end, repeat the routine.
During both exercises, the scientists monitored the subjects’ heart rates, oxygen consumption, and their feelings about how hard the effort felt. Next, they asked how much people enjoyed each exercise and checked for muscle soreness on the following days.
Results? Both exercises significantly raised the subjects’ heart rates and oxygen consumption, which means they make for effective aerobic exercise. There were slight differences. Treadmill races required more oxygen, suggesting that they may stress the cardiovascular system and build endurance marginally more than body-weight exercises. On the other hand, this exercise caused more pain, suggesting that it requires more muscles in the subjects, which likely leads, over time, to greater gains in leg strength. The volunteers also said the bodyweight routine felt more strenuous, even though it lasted a few minutes like a run.
Overall, the study shows that a basic bodyweight exercise “can certainly be called high-intensity exercise,” Bellissimo said. More precisely, she continued, both running and body-weight exercises are high-intensity interval training, or HIIT, and are one of fitness’s buzziest terms.
In a HIIT workout, a short spurt of hard exertion alternates with rest. Scientists already knew that intervals between treadmill counts as HIIT. This study helps prove that calisthenics at home, in a quiet corner of the office, or your favorite park provide an intense workout, too.
This study was very small and only measured the effects of one condition from each exercise, said Martin Gibala, a professor of kinesiology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada.
However, he said “there is value in conducting such studies.” “It is important to characterize the physiological responses” during and after the different exercises, to reassure subjects who might be tempted to jump squat and scissor kick that their efforts will have the desired effects.
If you’d like to try a bodyweight HIIT workout, Bellissimo said, feel free to completely modify or realign the study workout to suit your fitness and circumstances. Do the full set of exercises just once, instead of twice, for example. Slow down during any of the exercises.
Or, if you’re feeling overpowered and competitive, beat the average study participants’ knees, which were 185 per minute. Add a burpee pushup, not used in this study, if you want an upper-body workout, or use a chair to make burpees or squats less taxing.
“Try to finish each interval, however you can,” said Bellissimo, who studies a modified version of bodyweight HIIT with older adults who have health concerns. She said they hold up to exercise well so far. “The beauty of periods is that they’re intense, yeah, but then, it’s over.”
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