Can an effective cardiovascular workout be done in 20 minutes or less? Depending on level of intensity, yes it can, according to a recent study of Tabata-style workouts commissioned by American Council on Exercise (ACE).
In the new independent study, researchers tested the intensity and calorie burn of these interval training workouts, which originated with the Japanese Olympic speed skating team and have grown increasingly popular among the public.
"An effective cardiovascular and muscular-conditioning program can be accomplished in a short period of time, but only if the level of intensity is extremely high," said ACE Chief Science Officer Dr. Cedric Bryant. "The good news is those who are relatively fit but pressed for time can use a Tabata-type program to squeeze in a workout without spending hours in the gym."
The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse's Department of Exercise and Sport Science research team used a modified Tabata protocol to create its own 20-minute, full-body workout consisting of push-ups, split squats, box jumps, burpees, jumping rope, jumping jacks and the like. The team recruited 16 healthy, moderately to very fit male and female volunteers, ages 20 to 47. All subjects first underwent a treadmill test to determine maximal heart rate (HR) and maximal aerobic capacity (VO2 max), with ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) assessed at the end of each stage.