Short Workouts or Long Workouts? Are Short Workouts Really Effective?

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A question we frequently get asked is whether or not short workouts are effective, and if multiple short workout routines are even better than one long duration routine.

In an ideal world, we all have the time to fit in extensive, effective, and thorough workouts. In reality, everyone has a lot to juggle in life, and exercise is one of the first things to be crowded out when the schedule starts busting at the seams. Many of us really and truly do not have an entire 60-90 minutes of uninterrupted time that lends itself to a lengthy workout.

What is more realistic and feasible is turning those sporadic 10-20 minute chunks of time that are spread throughout the day into miniature sweat sessions. But do they count? Do they work as well as a full hour or hour and a half of exercising?

Short Workouts or Long Workouts?
In a nutshell, by far and large the best workout is one that you will actually DO. If you plan to exercise for 80 minutes daily and your schedule realistically just does not allow for it, time and time again you’re not going to actually do it, and while good intentions are honorable they really don’t get you far in terms of reaching your fitness goals.

If a 10-20 minute workout is something that you can squeeze into your day, rest assured that what you are doing is worthwhile; not only can multiple short workouts be as effective as longer duration workouts, they can be even more effective.

Each time you workout, your metabolism gradually speeds up, and then gradually slows back down to normal when you’re finished. While your metabolism is returning to normal you are burning calories at an elevated rate. Think about it in terms of a bell curve; would you want one bell curve representing a metabolic increase, or several? This after burn effect is especially true of higher intensity workouts such as HIIT or strength training (you will see a much less significant after burn with low-moderate effort cardio).

Another benefit to breaking your workouts up into multiple short sessions is that you wont hit energy slumps the way that you might if you were going for a whole hour or two. Instead, you will have ideally consumed healthy meals (or at least snacks) and lots of water in between each, which will enable you to give each workout your full effort the whole way through.

We like combining the two different types of training, doing longer workouts on the days when we have more time, and multiple, short workouts when we are more pressed for time.

Something is always better than nothing when it comes to exercise, and often times with activity a little something turns into something bigger, seeing as how actually initiating activity can be the hardest part of working out.

Which way do you prefer? Do you do short workouts of long workouts, or a combination of the two?