Is exercising for 6 minutes once a week the answer?

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Many of you have asked me, and been discussing, the recent Catalyst Report on the benefits of high intensity training.  This is a topic that has been regularly discussed in exercise science circles over the last 15 years, and has being made popular recently by commercial exercise trends such as CROSS-FIT, SPIN and HIIT.  The premise of the study and the report is outlined in the article below, and it is well worth a watch.

In summary, the study suggests that short bursts of maximum intensity training once a week, give just as much or more benefit than sustained regular exercise.  This is certainly reflected in the long history of studies on the topic, and the general consensus of exercise scientists.
So are we going to do away with longer exercise sessions and start booking you into 6 minute sessions?
Unsurprisingly, no.
The reason being, is that although high intensity training is one of the most effective forms of training, it also hurts the most!  It is also only suitable for those who are fit & strong enough to handle it.
Now if you are one of those clients who are, (and there are a few of you) you will get fantastic gains in strength, speed & fitness by training this way.  Those of you who love to train hard, know that you have worked for years to build the core strength, symmetry, flexibility, mental toughness and cardio vascular conditioning to be able to sustain this type of training.  One of the reasons CROSS-FIT is so popular is because personal trainers love to train themselves that way.  If you’ve ever trained with your trainer, you’ll know how hard they can go.
For the rest of us, sustaining 6 minutes at our “maximum” is nowhere near the levels required for this method of high intensity training to get the benefits.  Our bodies are not conditioned to train at that level.  So the first time we try it, we feel like we are going to die!  Our heart rate soars rapidly, our muscles fatigue quickly, any underlying imbalances or injuries are exposed, and our lack of mental toughness means after around 20 seconds we stop, and fight to catch our breath. Then our brain kicks in…  “We can’t do it, we’re too far gone, we’ll never be fit enough, this hurts like hell, we’ll never do this again…”
Sound familiar?  Perhaps that time you tried to attend a BodyPump class, or went for a fast run, played a team sport, or joined a gym?  The reason is that after months (or years) of neglect, your body needs to be repaired and rebuilt to move that way again.
You need to build your core strength to protect your spine, learn how to activate the correct muscles, and perform correct technique, and you need to build up your cardio conditioning so you can handle training for at least 30 minutes at a moderate level without feeling like you are going to die!
Once you reach that goal, you can increase intensity gradually until you can start training to lose fat, increase fitness and increase muscle for a lean, efficient, strong body.  Then you can handle HIIT!
How do you know if you’re ready?  Just ask your trainer, and we’ll be more than happy to crank up the intensity to test you out safely.
So does this mean the study is flawed?  No, the methodology is sound and the effectiveness of this type of training is well documented.  This issue is with ourselves. We need to take an honest look at how and why we are in the condition we are in and work towards getting back to a state of optimum health.  Once you get the base strength & fitness to sustain your exercise at a reasonable level, adding high intensity bursts to your routine will supercharge your efforts and accelerate your results.

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