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Whether Izumi Tabata was in a hurry to get in shape, or did his work leave him with little free time, is a mystery. But something important would haunt his mind when he decided to study the exercise high intensity, and there is no doubt that this idea illuminated one of the most important studies of the career of the scientist of the National Institute of Fitness and Sports of Japan. He published it in 1996, when running it was called jogging and sweating a lot, for hours, was the only secret to being fit. His research changed everything with the statement that the effects on aerobic capacity of a moderate 60-minute workout were comparable to those of a high-intensity one made up of 20-second series, followed by 10 rest, until completing a 4 strenuous minutes.
Trade an hour running for a 240-second workout? It seems a little less than inconceivable strategy, more typical of a delusion than a man of science. Something impossible, absurd. And yet, the work lit up the Tabata table, which is the theoretical foundation of high-intensity interval training, a routine only available to the “tough guys” in the gym known by its acronym in English, HIIT.
Not only has the proposal been around in the 20th century, but its idea continues to make its way: if 240 seconds impress, more astonishing is the claim that 160 seconds a day is enough to alleviate some of the consequences of the galloping sedentary lifestyle that we suffer en masse . This is exactly what a study from the University of Texas at Austin, published in the journal, suggests. Medicine & Science in Sport & Exercise, the bet has risen (or fallen, depending on how you look at it) until a micro-series based routine of just 4 seconds.
A call to the body to burn fat?
The analysis by scientists at the American university has focused on triglycerides, a type of fatty acid that is very common in the body and can be detected in the blood. It seems that the fact of sitting for endless periods — that is, during the workday of millions of people and their customary rest afterwards, in front of a screen— increases triglyceride levels. In theory, exercise helps to lower them, according to the idea that supports the new experiment.
To obtain the data that supports this theory, the scientists had a small group of 8 volunteers who spent a day sitting in the laboratory with no other permission than to go to eat or to serve. The next day they repeated the same routine, only after eating a high-fat breakfast, mainly ice cream. Surely many of the participants would have been happy to end the experiment at its sweetest moment, but they did not forgive the bitter part. The scientists received them for another two days. The first was also spent sitting down, only this time they had to get on a kind of stationary bike every hour and pedal at full power for five sets of 4 seconds, with a 45-second break. After 8 hours, they had completed 160 seconds of exercise as if their lives were in it. The second day was one of surprise.
According to the data that the researchers have offered, the metabolism of those who had pedaled with all their strength responded in a very different way when, the next day, they were hit by the breakfast caloric bomb. In addition to arriving at the laboratory with the lowest levels of triglycerides in the blood, they kept them throughout the day 30% below the levels of the visit in which they did not do any activity, be supposed to because exercise caused your body to burn more fat. These figures suggest that ultrashort, superintense and extra-efficient training led to a reduction in triglycerides in the volunteers’ blood, fatty acids that, in addition to accumulating with sedentary lifestyle, from certain levels are considered a cardiovascular risk factor.
Intensity is the key
Before you get up to finish the first micro series sooner than it takes to make a coffee, keep in mind that this study has limitations. Obviously, the first is that the group examined is too small to draw solid conclusions. Furthermore, the researchers employed a complex bicycle static ergometer, which can take a professional athlete to display its full intensity in about 2 seconds and that the reader will not have on hand (important note: the person in charge of the investigation has declared to have shares in the company that supplied it to his laboratory) . Scientists calculated that an amateur could take twice as long, hence the 4 seconds, and with the activities that one can do on his own, that time would be irretrievably extended. And the effects were only monitored for six hours, so the duration of the benefits of micro-training remains a mystery.
However, the idea that short but intense exercise has positive effects on Health is not new. And it is not only true that it is always better to move a little than to spend the day sitting, although to know that you do not need to spend a dollar on experiments. But it is that science is blurred in showing that, in a matter of training, intensity counts. And a lot. Further, Drinking exercise in small doses also makes it easier not to deny it. than when you have to spend several hours a week. Also, are you sure that looking for benefits in workouts of less than four minutes a day is an absurd illusion, an impossible challenge? Okay, maybe 4 minutes won’t be enough, nor does a HIIT workout last the 4 minutes of Tabata’s study, but it’s all about trying. Recipes will not be: there are plenty of short but effective workouts, from 4 minutes to once a week. For trying it, no time is wasted.
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