Workout of the Day

The One-Minute Workout


Interval training, and specifically high-intensity interval training, has recently garnered quite a bit of attention in the scientific community and general population alike, and with good reason. What if you could have more for less?

Well, the good news is that you can have more for less. All of the buzz has some truth to it.

Researcher and professor of kinesiology at McMaster University, Dr. Martin Gibala, focuses much of his work on what’s possible in the realm of high intensity interval training. He has conducted studies comparing, for example, a 3x/week training protocol of four to six 30-second maximal intensity intervals with a 3x/week training protocol of 90-120 minutes of steady state exercise, and has found repeatedly that high intensity intervals, despite their lower total training volume and immensely lower required time, produce very similar results for improvements in health markers, endurance adaptations, and fat loss to those garnered from the longer-duration protocols.

A brief jaunt down the Google Scholar rabbit hole reveals a massive body of evidence further supporting this efficacy of high intensity interval training. Dr. Gibala has even developed a protocol that he dubs “the one-minute workout.” The workout, which he openly admits is named as an attention-grabber, and of course takes longer than 60 seconds from start to finished (it consists of three 20-second maximal effort intervals with a couple of minutes of rest between, for a total of 1 minute of effort, and still only a 10-minute time commitment from start to finish), is built off of these scientific findings that demonstrate how much can be gained from short, intense efforts.

The crux of these studies and the utilization of high-intensity interval training, though, is the intensity. One minute of moderately hard exercise will in no way produce the same magnitude of results as 30 minutes of steady-state work or one minute of absolute maximal intensity. In studies, researchers control for this by prescribing a particular percentage of VO2max or power output. In essence, they force you to go as hard as you can by use of quantifiable metrics. Outside of the laboratory, however, this can be challenging. The efficacy of high-intensity training is equally matched by the difficulty of pushing oneself to maximal intensity. In other words, it hurts.

The research shows us two things.
First, fitness does not require hour upon hour of commitment every day. Greater results will, of course, come from greater time commitment, but to say “I don’t have enough time” just doesn’t pass muster when we have considerable evidence showing that it only takes a few minutes, a few times per week.
Second, intensity is the magic bullet of fitness if there ever was one. There’s no magic in the time allotment of a 3x20s protocol, or a Tabata protocol, or a 10x1min protocol, or any particular work to rest ratio. Perform any of these ostensibly effective protocols with sub-maximal effort and you will yield sub-maximal results. The “magic” lies in the intensity.

(You can read more about Dr. Gibala’s findings and the benefits of high-intensity training HERE, HERE, and HERE.)

- PS


  • Sumo deadlift - 1,1,1,1,1

  • Every 3 mins for 15 minutes, individually for time:

    • 10 DBL KB swing (106/70)

    • 200m row