There are literally hundreds of different exercises and unique movement patterns you can do to improve your cardiovascular fitness level. The best one, however, is the one you end up sticking with.
Researchers led by Martin Gibala, PhD, at McMaster University in Canada, developed a protocol of high-intensity interval training that involves just one-minute of strenuous effort, at about 90 percent of a person’s maximum heart rate, followed by one-minute of easy recovery. They reported that the process repeated ten times, meaning a total exercise times of 20-minutes, should be carried out just twice a week and it gets significant results in just a few weeks. You can use this same format but complete five rounds instead of ten used by the research group and you have a great 10-minute workout.
A 2013 study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found 10-minute “bursts” of exercise added to your daily quota of exercise, will you results. It concluded that ‘some exercise is better than nothing’ and that by adding small bouts of exercise you can have big impact.
Here are three of my personal favorites to do over the course of a typical training week. They should be used on your off days, in addition to your strength training sessions. Build up, slowly, performing each activity for 10-minutes and focus on quality rather than quantity before looking to progress. When it comes to high intensity interval training it’s about one word, intensity! Use a heart rate monitor to see how hard you’re initially working.
- Jumping Rope – Try to maintain a minimum of 120 revolutions or “toe-taps” per minute. Build up to 10-minutes. Work on different movement patterns using both double and single leg routines when jumping. Progress to a weighted jump rope when the time is right. At times I use this high-tech jump rope that actually keeps track or counts the number of jumps.
- Rowing – A great full body workout but when performed correctly, 75 percent of your effort should be coming from the waist down. Here are two great protocols to try for 10 minutes using different variations like single foot, double, cross-country skiing and side-to-side movements.
- 30-20-10 protocol – row easy for 5:00 to warm-up. Then row 30-seconds at a low intensity, followed by 20-seconds using a moderate intensity and finally, row all out, high intensity, for 10-seconds. Repeat x 5 and cool-down. Progress for doing this x 10 rounds.
- 500 meter splits – warm-up then row 500 meters at a good stroke per minute pace, followed by 2:00 of recovery and repeat for 5 rounds. If you’re new to rowing decrease the work time (rowing) and increase the recovery to 3:00. Record each round and compare how consistent your times are for each 2:00 round.
- Tabata Protocol – This is a great template because it can be done anywhere, including in the pool, running, hill work, on an elliptical or treadmill, using specific body weight exercises, on a bike, etc. Warm-up for 4:00 then use maximum effort for 20-seconds of work and 10-seconds of recovery and repeat for 8 rounds and then cool-down. Download a free Tabata app for your smartphone to help you follow along.
There you have it, three great activities, that all burn maximal calories in minimal time. Each one will help build not only work capacity, but also increase strength and boost energy levels.