High Intensity Training: Healthier with 12 Minutes of Exercise Per MONTH

High Intensity Exercise

Quick HIT workout

Yes you read that correctly, you can improve your health status with doing just 12 minutes of high intensity training exercise per month. You may have seen earlier this year the Panaroma TV programme called “The Truth About Exercise” with Dr Michael Mosley. He was experimenting on himself with high intensity training to improve his risk of diabetes. Don’t worry if you missed it I got a video link to a copy you can watch below.

This was such a good programme to watch to get an understanding about the concept of doing less time exercising and improving your health. Today I want to share with you some fascinating videos, reading and thoughts. Not only from the Panorama programme, but from also from medical doctors and biohackers who tout doing this novel type of exercise programme.

Less Exercise Time = Better Results

That headline sums up the high intensity training, a.k.a HIT training, for me.

Isn’t it amazing that Dr Mosley found 12 minutes per month got him positive health results. Before that I had come across 12 minutes per week, which I already what I thought really low.

I’m sure if you were like me before I started reading about high intensity exercise you would have thought how is it possible to get fit and healthy with such a low time exercising? Well let’s get started shall we.

What is High Intensity Training?

Let me help you start your learning process in minimal exercise = maximum gain.

Here is the BBC Panorma programme called “The Truth About Exercise” hosted by Dr Michael Mosley. It is just under an hour, but is fascinating to watch.

I know what your probably thinking, WOW! I want to start doing this straight away if it is so easy.

How did Dr Mosley do the cycling? Here is an official tweet from him below explaining how he did it:

The 12 minutes comes from doing 3x20sec high intensity bursts of cycling which equals 1 minute.
Do this 3 times per week for 3 minutes per week of exercise over a 4 week month that equals 12 minutes of exercise.

I think that is kind of cool you can improve your risk of diabetes so quickly and easily.

Some other benefits of hit training are said to be;

  • Less sport injuries – less risk overuse injury like shin splints or overtraining.
  • Improved cardiovascular health – Dr Doug Mcguff explains more but basically hungry muscle needs a healthy blood supply.
  • No excuse about no time – if you can get to gym or have the home equipment you have no excuse
  • Anyone can do it – you could be a youngster or even a mature adult and still do this type of exercise workout

Want More Muscle? Try 12 Minutes Per Week

As I mentioned earlier, I first heard of only needing to perform 12 minutes of exercise per week to get amazing health changes. That idea came to me from medical doctor, Dr Doug McGuff, an A&E doctor in the USA.

Dr McGuff is a major proponent for doing low volume, maximal muscle contraction exercises VERY slowly.

The idea is that if you can engage as much skeletal muscle tissue during an exercise movement then it will be wanting lots of glucose for energy. This mopping up of the glucose is meant to be good for improving your insulin sensitivity. That means it is a good exercise for avoiding Type 2 diabetes.

Watch an example of Dr McGuff’s “Big 5” HIT weight training exercises that he does only once per week over 12 minutes. He says you need one week to recover from this workout. You will see Dr McGuff himself doing a high intensity workout routine himself in the gym in the next two videos.

Want to learn more about what Dr McGuff has to say about losing fat with the Paleo diet or caveman diet that he recommends? Want to know the research and science behind his thoughts on why he believes in low volume HIT training? You can buy his book “Body By Science: A Research Based Program to Get the Results You Want in 12 Minutes a Week” below from the Amazon UK and US stores.

Even More Positive Stuff on High Intensity Training

If you are that way inclined and want to know more detail on the nitty gritty from a research point of view on the improvement in insulin sensitivity and glycemic control? I got you covered.

Here is an article that showed healthy males that after only 2 weeks of performing the Wingate Tests, like Dr Mosley did in the documentary, improved their insulin sensitivity by 23%. It goes into stuff like GLUT4.

Download (PDF, 677KB)

But wait my favourite. Then there are the biohackers, Timothy Ferriss and Dave Asprey.

BioHackers Dig Less Exercise

They are called biohackers because they are willing to try experiment with their own health in a quest to optimise it.

Really I think we are all are trying to do that in a more subtle form. What makes Tim Ferriss and Dave Asprey different is they made lots of money first and could afford to do lots of blood tests, muscle biopsy’s, MRI and CT scans etc… All in the quest to see what makes you “healthier“.

Tim Ferriss has a book out called “The Four Hour Body” which I have talked about before. In this book Tim mentions using low volume exercise often in chapters like Building the Perfect Posterior, Occam’s Protocol I and II, Running Faster and Further. If you haven’t read the book and enjoy self-development it is a fascinating read with some very useful tips.

Then there is Dave Asprey of Bulletproof Exec fame. Dave blogs about his experience in improving his biology. He says he is not a fan of exercise and agrees with Dr McGuff. What got my attention with Dave’s blog was his bulletproof coffee recommending you put butter in your coffee instead of milk, but that is another blog post all together.

How to Get Started

For me I can see the most practical way to get started with high intensity training exercise is using a stationary bicycle or rowing machine at home or at the gym if you have a membership.

Being an ex-competitive rower myself I enjoy the sprinting aspect back on a concept 2 ergo machine. It makes me feel like I’m going through my start of a big race or the cox screaming “go for home!” to win a race. Still gives me goosebumps.

The Bottom Line

So you can get healthier, stronger, and fitter by reducing your traditional exercise training schedule right down. I like sustainability and high intensity training fits right in with my philosophy because it can fit into anyone’s time management, and is something that you can do as a teenager all the way to the elderly. This is exercise for life. Let me know what your thoughts are below.

Image Credit: Some rights reserved by The U.S. Army