THE BLOG
07/23/2013 05:56 pm ET | Updated Sep 22, 2013

The 7 to 10-Minute Workout Myth

You're not really getting the whole story (as usual) when it comes to quick workouts. True to form with fitness information in the media, recently I'm hearing a lot about seven to 10-minute quick-fix "workouts." I've placed the word "workout" in quotes for numerous reasons, but in regard to this topic, it's because technically one could consider stretching a workout. Which brings me to my point... It's all relative.

When a knowledgeable coach or trainer plans a workout for a client or athlete, there are many variables to take into consideration. For example, even if I have an entire hour and half workout planned for a client, I may change it simply because my client tells me that they are particularly sore or tired. This of course, is very specific and ultimately why personal training can be superior to simply working out. One-on-one training isn't always possible for people. That's understandable, so I'd like to simplify two variables to take into consideration when determining if a quick workout is sufficient for you.

Two main principals that I consider when planning workouts are volume and intensity. For these purposes, volume is the amount of "stuff" done. How many sets, how many repetitions and/or the duration of time. Intensity is the amount of weight (of course relative to your personal ability), speed of repetitions/sets, or simply how "hard" you get after it.

When taking those variables into consideration, you have to think hard about your 10-minute workout and consider whether or not you can really include everything necessary for it to be productive for you. In order for a seven to 10-minute workout to be effective, you would have to immediately escalate to an intensity that would risk injury (because there isn't a warm up), and you would have to be very strong and experienced. You would already need to be at a high level of training so you could move quickly and with perfect technique. Rest has to be minimal, so obviously you have great conditioning already... Right?

My point is that the idea of a seven to 10-minute workout is what we as humans are best at. Wanting change with minimal effort. Don't misunderstand me, I'm all about making exercise palatable. I even have sub-20-minute workouts in my DBX3 program, but that doesn't include the warm up, and doesn't appear until after weeks of training.

If you have any kind of previous injury, or you're over the age of 18, I'd say a seven to 10-minute workout will not be good for you. Unless that workout is stretching and mobility... Which is essentially a warm up. You need to spend time warming your joints and muscles before you get into an intense workout. In fact, I have clients who spend 20 minutes warming up. Essentially, their training sessions are an hour and a half long. With myself, and with younger clients who don't have orthopedic issues, a 20-minute warm up could still be necessary, but there's enough experience and core stability to blast out an intense 20 minutes of exercises and finish with a cool down.

People will say that slower workouts never work. I disagree. If within your longer-duration workout you can find some sets that are more intense and lay back on others, you're still doing well. Also, consider that the longer you are active, the more opportunity there is to burn calories. Yes, a super athlete may be able to burn a ton of calories quickly by turning up the intensity to failure on every set, but others have the opportunity to go a bit less intensely, and add sets and exercises to their routine. I will say that fast explosive activity works your central nervous system like nothing else, but sometimes age and ability make it difficult to accomplish that. It's better to be safe and slow than fast and reckless.

If you consider yourself strong, stable and experienced, 25 to 30 minutes (including a warm up) could work. Other than that, don't get caught up in the hype. Put in the time necessary to make healthy change.

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