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Burn fat and build muscle with this 40 minute exercise plan

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Two short HIIT sessions on a cycle better than more study finds

You want to stay active but don't have time. It's a dilemma we all seem to face. You'll be happy to know researchers have discovered you can burn fat, improve cardiovascular health and build muscle with just two HIIT sprints on a bicycle.


Performing just two 'supramaximal' bicycle sprints at two intervals is all it takes to boost cardiorespiratory fitness.

Experts from Scotland's University for Sporting Excellence have reviewed studies, comparing how many repetitions of cycling it takes to to get the maximum benefit.

They also discovered doing more can decrease the benefits of doing the shorter workout.

Short amount of time exercising, big benefits

Dr Niels Vollaard, Lecturer in Health and Exercise Science in the Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport, said in a media release: "Lack of time is frequently cited as one of the main barriers to people becoming or staying physically active. High-intensity workouts have begun to tackle this problem, allowing people to get maximum health benefits while working out for a shorter time.

For example, you can purchase an interval training exercise bike for the home or take advantage of cycling at the gym. This research doesn't go into detail about how to perform the exercises. Studies show you can burn fat and increase cardiorespiratory fitness with a 4 minute sprint - total time 20 minutes with your warm up and recovery time. The new study shows it takes just two sprints to get fit.

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Vollard said the impetus for the study is to help busy people get fit.

See: 3 ways to get fit when you're short on time

"For the first time, we have evidence to suggest an indicator of fitness levels is improved more by doing fewer repetitions of high-intensity exercise. We are currently performing studies to investigate the physiological mechanisms that may explain this unexpected finding," Vollard adds.

One of the beauties of high intensity cycling is most people can do it, even those with orthopedic limitations. Cycling is low impact and puts less stress on the musckuloskeletal system compared to walking.

The study, published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise also found performing more than two HIIT sprints reduced fitness improvement by 5 percent.

Journal Reference:

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise:
Post Acceptance: January 10, 2017
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000001204