The Best Time-Saving Workout

FInterval training can get you in and out of the gym in no time. Here's how to do itInterval training can get you in and out of the gym in no time. Here's how to do itinding the time to work out is sometimes harder than actually working out. Well, this might be the timesaving--and even more slimming--solution to logging hours upon hours at the gym. According to a new study published in The Journal of Physiology, three sessions of spring interval training are as effective as five sessions of longer endurance exercise.

Researchers separated participants--all young men, for the record--into two groups: the endurance training (ET) group and the sprint interval training (SIT) group. The ET group exercised for a longer period of time (40-60 minutes of cycling, 5 times a week), while the SIT group performed fewer, more intense workouts (four to six 30-second sprints with 4.5 minutes of low intensity cycling in between, 3 times a week). Though both exercise methods were beneficial, SIT, in just 90 minutes per week, "improved exercise capacity, insulin sensitivity, vascular health, and fat metabolism within the muscle," according to Sam Shepherd, PhD, one of the study authors and lecturer in sport & exercise nutrition at Liverpool John Moores University.

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But consider this before you hit the gym: SIT is an "extreme" form of high intensity interval training (HIIT), according to Shepherd. That's why this intense kind of workout might be geared toward people who are already healthy and fit. The good news: "You can use less extreme forms of high intensity interval training, but the benefits should hopefully remain," he says.

Great news, considering you can tailor HIIT to your fitness level--and reap some pretty awesome healthy-body benefits. The main thing you need to know about interval workouts: the work-to-rest ratio that works for you, according to Rachel Buschert Vaziralli, Schwinn Master Trainer, and New York City-based group fitness instructor and trainer.

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"A beginner might need to do 1:3 ratios (ex. push for 30 seconds and then recover for 90), an intermediate exerciser might do 1:2 (ex. push for 30 seconds and then recover for 60), and a highly trained exerciser might be able to handle 1:1 (30 on 30 off) or even 2:1 (30 on 15 off)," she says. "It's very individual, but the key is to push to a level of high exertion and feel like you need the recovery times." The bottom line: The "sprint" or "push" portions should be tough, but not to the point where you can't complete the workout or recover properly before going onto the next push.

With that in mind, try this beginner cycling interval plan created by Buschert Vaziralli.

By Alexandra Duron

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