High Intensity Workouts

Studies show quick, intense workouts can be as beneficial as an hour at the gym

Only have 10 minutes? Scientists in Canada conducted a study which shows that may be enough time to get in the benefits of a longer workout. Katelyn Brown talks to mid-Missourians already using similar routines to find out if the science holds true.

High-intensity workouts are growing in popularity throughout mid-Missouri

By Madeline McClain, Rachel Foster-Gimbel and Katelyn Brown

COLUMBIA — Getting the full benefits of a 45-minute workout in just 10 minutes sounds too good to be true.

In a study out of McMaster University in Canada, one group of participants rode a stationary bike for about 10 minutes, with three 20-second spurts of all-out intensity. The other group rode a stationary bike for 45 minutes of moderate intensity. The results of the study showed similar health benefits for both groups.


Dylan Olver, an exercise physiologist at MU, said this is not the first study of its kind.

“The goal in many studies is to add just an incremental step or a small piece of the puzzle just one piece at a time and certainly this study was able to do that,” Olver said. “But there were no monumental changes or shifts in the way we think about exercise as a result of the study.”

High-intensity interval training, or HIIT, as well as other high-intensity exercise programs, are gaining more momentum thanks to these studies. According to a 2015 survey from the American College of Sports Medicine, wearable technology, workouts that incorporate using your own body weight and HIIT are projected to be the top fitness trends for 2016.

This kind of training can already be found at gyms around mid-Missouri.

Mike Halliburton, a personal trainer at PRO Fitness in Columbia, said that more clients are asking for these short, high-intensity workouts.

“The training is very, very popular these days because it doesn’t take much time,” Halliburton said. “You can get a great workout in under 30 minutes. That’s a huge benefit of this training, that it fits people’s schedules as we constantly get busier and busier as a society.”

However, the trade-off for less time in the gym is a harder workout. These workouts can be strenuous on the body, especially for beginners, Garrett Buschjost, head trainer at MU Human Performance Institute, said.

“The problem is beginners tear their muscles down and don’t give enough time to recover and sometimes that muscle degenerates,” Buschjost said.

Buschjost said that many people are not aware of these negative effects when they get caught up in the latest workout trend.

“It’s like that old saying, there’s many ways to skin a cat,” Buschjost said. “There’s many different types of programs out there, from HIIT training to body-weight training, there’s so many types of training out there. But you need to know what works best for you.”

Sarah McRae is a short-distance track runner at William Woods University and a member of the Bluff Street Crossfit gym in Fulton. As a track runner, she said high-intensity workouts are a good fit for her.

“I mean endurance training is great if you want to do marathons or, you know, long bike rides or long swims, but I don’t want to do that,” McRae said.

McRae said she usually does about 20 minutes of an interval workout with high-intensity training when she’s at the gym. However, that makes up only one component of her overall routine.

High-intensity training is not a perfect substitute for an endurance workout, Mike Wuest, owner of CrossFit COMO, said, but it works for people who don’t feel they have a lot of time to dedicate to the gym.

“You can get a lot of bang for your buck when you do interval training, especially in a short amount of time,” Wuest said. “However, it’s going to be hard to replace like a 6-mile run, a 10K or a marathon.”

Buschjost agrees. He said a person’s workout needs to be varied but also tailored to the person’s background, age and interests.

“If you want to create a lifestyle that’s going to be with you the rest of your life, don’t focus on getting a beach bod,” Buschjost said. “Focus on your health and how you feel.”