11-minute bodyweight training has proven benefits; see which

11-minute bodyweight training has proven benefits;  see which

Five minutes of burpees (jump push-ups), jumps with squats and other calisthenics exercises significantly improve aerobic endurance, according to one of the first randomized, controlled trials to test the effects of rapid bodyweight exercise.

The study’s findings are predictable but reassuring at a time when many people rely on short sessions of exercise at home to gain or maintain fitness. They offer scientific assurance that these simple exercises work physiologically and our burpees won’t be in vain.

​Last year, when the pandemic reduced the hours of traditional gyms and left many people wary of exercising outdoors on crowded sidewalks or trails, many of us moved our workouts indoors, to the living room or bedroom. , changing the way we exercise.

Some bought stationary bikes and started intense spin classes, or turned to personal trainers and online yoga classes. But many have begun to practice some version of bodyweight training, using calisthenics and other simple strength exercises that rely on their own weight to provide resistance.

Bodyweight training has been a staple exercise since time immemorial, of course. Often organized as multiple, familiar exercises performed one after the other, this type of training has gone by various names, from Swedish Gymnastics a century ago to the Royal Canadian Air Force’s Five Basic Exercises (5BX) program in the 1960s, current 7-Minute Scientific Training and its variations.

In general, one of the characteristics of these programs is that you do the exercises consecutively, but not continuously; that is, complete several repetitions of an exercise, take a break and recover, then move on to the next. This approach makes training a form of interval training, with moments of intense effort followed by brief periods of rest.

Traditional interval training has a lot of scientific backing, with a lot of research showing that a few minutes — or even seconds — of strenuous intervals, repeated over and over, can substantially increase aerobic fitness. But exercise in these studies usually involves cycling or running.

Few experiments have examined the effects of brief bodyweight exercises on endurance and strength, and those few have had drawbacks. Most focused on people who were already fit, and almost none followed the scientific gold standard of being randomized and including an inactive control group. Consequently, our belief in the benefits of short bodyweight training may have been understandable, but evidence was lacking.

So for the new study, which was published this month in the International Journal of Exercise Science, researchers at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario (Canada) and the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota (USA), decided to develop and test a Basic bodyweight training.

They modeled their version on the well-known 5BX program, which was once used to train members of the Canadian armed forces in remote locations. But the researchers swapped elements of the original, which included exercises like old-fashioned sit-ups that aren’t considered especially good for the back or effective for building endurance.

They ended up with a program that alternated a minute of calisthenics, including modified burpees (omitting the push-ups that some enthusiasts add to the movement) and jogging in place, with a minute of walking, also in place. The routine requires no equipment, uses little space, and lasts a total of 11 minutes, including a minute for warm-up and cool-down.

They then recruited 20 healthy but out-of-shape young men and women, measured their current fitness, leg strength and handgrip strength, and randomly assigned ten of them to start the new program three times a week, while the others continued on with their lives. normal as a control.

The researchers asked practitioners to challenge themselves during calisthenics, completing as many of each exercise as they could in one minute, before walking in place and then moving on to the next exercise.

After six weeks, the volunteers returned to the lab for follow-up testing. And to no one’s surprise, everyone was in better shape, increasing their stamina by about 7% on average. The strength of his legs had also increased a little. The physical conditioning and strength of the control group remained unchanged.

“It was nice to see our expectations confirmed,” said Martin Gibala, a professor of kinesiology at McMaster University who oversaw the new study and had previously published, with collaborators, influential studies on intense interval training.

“It seemed obvious” that this type of training should be effective, he said. But “we now have evidence” that brief, basic bodyweight training “can make a significant difference” to fitness, he said.

The study was small and short-term, however, and looked at the effects only among healthy young people who are able to perform burpees and jump squats.

“Some people may need to replace” some exercises, said Gibala, especially those with joint pain or balance problems.

Whichever calisthenics mix you choose, “the key is to push yourself a little bit” during each one-minute break, he said.

Here is the complete 11-minute workout used in the study.

  • One minute of easy jumping jacks, to warm up
  • One minute of modified burpees (no push-ups)
  • One minute walk in place
  • One-minute running in place with knee high (skipping high)
  • One minute walk in place
  • One minute of split squat jumps (starting and ending in the lunge position, while alternating the leg that lands in front)
  • One minute walk in place
  • One minute running in place with knee high (skipping high)​
  • One minute walk in place
  • One minute of jumping squats
  • A minute’s walk in place, to cool down

Translated by Luiz Roberto M. Gonçalves

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