The No Excuse Workout

by Ashley Cummings on September 25, 2012

Say goodbye to the familiar phrase, “I just don’t have time to workout”. Yesterday was the last day you ever had to say this.

The need to spend hours at the gym is over. High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise (HIIE), also called High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), provides more benefits than long steady paced workouts (like a boring 30 minute elliptical session all at the same speed and a medium effort)…in less than half the time!

What is HIIE? HIIE involves intervals of hard work (where you cannot put in anymore effort) of a cardiovascular exercise that last anywhere between six seconds to a couple of minutes, then includes six seconds to a couple minutes of rest. Repeating these intervals for anywhere between three and 20 minutes. Additionally, HIIE workouts can be done anywhere and with little to no equipment.

Of course, consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program.

The article, “High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise and Fat Loss“, from the Journal of Obesity shows that HIIE has positive results for men and women, both young and old. The findings from this research show that HIIE training three times a week, for 2-6 weeks, results in health benefits such as: increased fat loss, increased muscle and heart strength, and decreased risk of type 2 diabetes.

A study from the article, “The effects of high-intensity intermittent exercise training on fat loss and fasting insulin levels of young women”, published in the International Journal of Obesity, supports these findings. A total of 45 young women performed sprints lasting eight seconds then engaged in 12 seconds of low-intensity cycling for a total 20 minutes in the HIIE group; cycled at a steady pace for 40 minutes; or did not perform any activity. The results of the 3 days a week, 15 week study showed that the participants in the HIIE improved their health greater than both the steady pace and control groups.

So, I’ve talked a lot about the benefits of HIIE, now what are the drawbacks? Well, you will be uncomfortable. You’re supposed to be–change doesn’t happen without work, right? …And you will sweat like a pig. So don’t plan on going anywhere before a quick shower. Lastly, it is possible to overtrain. Listen to your body, discomfort is different than pain.

While the above studies focused on repeated high intervals of sprinting and cycling, any heart pumping exercise where you are working at your full capacity will be valuable. More research must be done on the most favorable duration of HIIE workouts and program for attaining the most benefits, as well as with using strength training as a component.

Here’s a sample beginner workout that can be done in your living room:

  1. Warm-up with about 5 minutes of dynamic stretching.
  2. Choose 4 exercises that you can stand or maybe even find fun. For example, let’s use: jumping jacks, running in place, jumping rope, and squats (make sure your knees do not go over your toes). For the rest period, walk in place.
  3. Choose how many seconds of work and how many seconds of rest you would like. Let’s do 30 seconds work/15 seconds rest. (Smart phones have free interval timer apps to download)
  4. Choose how many circuits you would like to do. Beginners, start with one circuit (completing each of the four exercises one time each)–a total of 3 minutes.
  5. Push yourself as hard as you can, while maintaining good form. Enjoy your rest period!
  6. If you still feel like you have energy, complete another round.
  7. Cool down and stretch for 5 minutes. You did it!

See, that was awful feels good, doesn’t it? Yes, you want to quit and cry while you’re working, but it’s over so fast you forget how bad it was!

*If you get daring, try this video from (skip to 5:30 though, there is a long introduction.)

So, the next time to find yourself coming up with excuses, remember you can complete a workout in under five minutes, anywhere!


Image Courtesy of stock photo/

Boutcher, S. H. (2010). High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise and Fat Loss. Journal of Obesity 2011, 868305-10. doi: 10.1155/2011/868305

Boutcher, S. H., Chisholm, D. J., Freund, J., and Trapp, E. G. (2008). The effects of high-intensity intermittent exercise training on fat loss and fasting insulin levels of young women. International Journal of Obesity 32(4), 684-91.