The One-Minute Workout

The One-Minute Workout

Science Shows a Way to Get Fit That’s Smarter, Faster, Shorter

Avery, 2017 more...

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  • Scientific
  • Applicable
  • Inspiring


Imagine two middle-aged people, both of whom want to improve their fitness levels. One devotes four hours per week to endurance exercise. The other person only exercises for about an hour per week. Surprisingly, both show equal improvement, but eventually the person working out for four hours gives up. Who has that kind of time? The time-crunched adult population will appreciate Professor Martin Gibala’s research-backed workouts, though astute readers might shake their heads when they discover that the promised “one-minute workout” is actually 10 minutes in total duration – still, it’s shorter than you might expect.


High intensity interval training (HIIT) presents a time-efficient alternative to traditional endurance training.

Public health guidelines recommend about 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. Traditional endurance training involves running, biking, swimming or engaging in another form of exercise at a steady pace for 3o minutes or more at a time. Most people find the time commitment overwhelming, and many decide not even to try working out. As an alternative, high intensity interval training (HIIT) involves short bursts of high-effort exercise interspersed between longer bouts of moderate or low-intensity exercise.

Practitioners of both types of exercise experience improved arterial health and VO2max – which helps develop a better molecular makeup of muscles – but the HIIT approach takes less time. 

HIIT involves engaging in short bursts of vigorous exercise throughout a workout. Very intense intervals are more efficient.

The short bursts of high intensity exercise, or HIIT “sprints” might mean running, rowing, biking, stair-climbing or doing body-weight exercises like burpees...

About the Authors

Martin Gibala is the chair of McMaster University’s kinesiology department, where he’s conducted research that has led to more than 100 publications in peer-reviewed journals. Christopher Shulgan is a writer based in Toronto, Canada.

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