THE TRUTH ABOUT 15 MINUTE WORKOUTS
First of all let me just say that this article isn’t aimed at anyone in particular, or anyone that’s associated with 15 minute workouts; I’m just here to help you make an informed decision when trying to decide what exercise programmes are going to work the best for YOU. I know this could rub some ‘known’ trainers up the wrong way, but facts are facts, enjoy the read:
15 minute workouts and training sessions seem to be all the hype at the moment. As a fitness ‘expert’ if you can come up with a way to make exercise less monotonous and time consuming for your clients, and still promise the same results, you’ll probably be doing quite well for yourself. Unfortunately many trainers over promise and under deliver on results. But who cares when it sells PT sessions, training plans or even books, right!? Well I care! Personally I’d rather under promise on results so that clients stay happy, and when it comes to hitting targets above and beyond what’s expected it’s a great feeling. I’d prefer that any day of the week.
15 minute workouts tend to promise you getting fitter, leaner, more trim, more muscular, pretty much everything you could expect, but all in a 15 minute window. Workouts are usually high intensity HIT sessions, resisted circuits, or similar, and with just 15 minute sessions they’re pretty quick and intense. For the rest of the day you could be sat down, and yet being active for less than 1% (15 minutes) of your day is going to make that big of an impact. Common sense would dictate it probably won’t.
THE ‘AFTER BURN’ ARGUMENT
For supporters of 15 minute workouts this is usually the big one that wins over the sales of their programmes, books and so on; “This 15 minute workout will increase your metabolism so much that you’ll still be burning calories for the rest of the day.” Talk about misinformation!! I bet after hearing this you’ve got some vision in your mind that your body will just be incinerating calories all day? And what if I said that some research does in fact suggest that high intensity workouts could increase your calories burned at rest for up to 36 hours?! Just in that one sentence I bet you’re thinking about putting your fitness gear on right now to smash out a high intensity session?! But hold on for one minute, you might want to know the rest of it. Again, some research does in fact suggest that high intensity workouts could increase your calories burned at rest for up to 36 hours. However the amount of calories burned depends on a number of factors. For the average person around 100-200 calories extra could be burned over the next 24-36 hours, some may be less, some may be a little more, while some unlucky people may not burn any at all. Either way the only true way to know how your body reacts from your workouts is to hook you up to a bit of kit that you’re only likely to find in exercise science labs.
Pretty much the same will happen to your resting metabolism wether you do a 15 minute session or a 45 minute session, difference being that you obviously would’ve burned more calories DURING the 45 minute session. Therefore over the entire week your calories burned during 45 minute workouts would be double or even triple that of 15 minute workouts, with both burning an extra say 1000 calories throughout the week due to the after burn effect (if you’re burning any extra at all that is).
Surely it therefore makes sense that 15 minute workouts should only be done by those that only have 15 minutes to spare every day?!
Now I’m going to be a little controversial here and ask who only has 15 minutes a day to spare for a workout? How long each day do you spend watching TV, going on social media, having down time, even sleeping in? Understandable if it’s been a long day at work and the last thing you want to do is head to the gym for a workout, or step outside your door for a run, but this is a mindset problem, of which you only have yourself to blame. You’ve got to turn that around otherwise you won’t get anywhere! Personally If I know I’ve got a really busy day ahead (and I most often do) then I make a conscious effort to get my workout done early in the morning, or schedule it in my diary the night before to make sure it’s an appointment I can’t miss.
Here’s the deal about workout times. There’s nothing special about 15 minute workouts, and they definitely won’t get you anywhere near the results of say a 45-60 minute workout. Who ever’s telling you this is telling porkies! But here are the rules; if you can spare 45-60 minutes out of your day to invest in your health and fitness then book it in your diary. Make that appointment with yourself that you’ll never miss. If however you can only (honestly) spend say 15, 20, 30 minutes then that’s the next best thing. Small deposits are ok at times when things are a little tight. Just don’t limit yourself to bigger deposits if you can afford them.
The shorter time you’re in the gym the higher your workout intensity should be. If you’re only able to spend 15 minutes in there then I’d personally expect you to be struggling to get back home, wether trying to walk home or operating the clutch pedal in your car!!!
Invest whatever time you have available to invest in your health and fitness, and don’t limit it to 15 minute workouts if you’ve got a little more to spare.