Imagine a workout plan where you could get fitter, stronger and faster in just a few minutes each day. You wouldn't have to slave for hours down the gym or even invest in fancy trainers and trendy lycra.
Well thanks to a new fitness plan that's sure to be the hit workout of 2014 — that impossible dream is now reality.
Fast Exercise is the brainchild of Dr Michael Mosley and, based on cutting-edge scientific research, it promises to shift half a stone or more in four weeks with just eight minutes of sweat.
“It's not how long you spend working out that matters, but how hard you push yourself,” explains Dr Mosley.
“If you are prepared to give all-out effort in short bursts — an approach the experts call High Intensity Training (or HIT) — then the reward is a workout that need last only a matter of minutes yet will product a list of health and fitness benefits as long as your arm.”
The science would appear to back up the doctor's claim. In 2005 researchers at McMaster University in Canada found that subjects who did 30-second cycling sprints over two minutes developed the same muscle cell adaptations as those who spent two hours of long, steady bike riding.
Research shows that as well as improving muscle tone and strength, HIT has also been found to shift fat, boost the cardiovascular system, help weight-loss, reduce the risk of diabetes and stabilise blood sugar levels.
Dublin-based fitness trainer James Murphy (zestfitness.ie) agrees that high intensity training is the best way to fight flab. “Put simply, the higher the heart rate the more calories you're going to burn,” he explains. “I often hear from people who say they're walking for an hour a day, or jogging on a treadmill, but not losing any weight.
“They're not going to, because the heart rate isn't getting to the point it needs to, to burn fat. If you're of a decent level of fitness and not suffering from any breathing problems, it's always better to do short bursts of high intensity training and lift the heart rate rather than slogging away at a slow pace.”
Fast Exercise is the latest instalment from the same man who brought us the Fast Diet. As with his revolutionary 5:2 eating plan, where practitioners follow a normal diet for five days of the week before ‘fasting' on a calorie-controlled plan for two days, Mosley's ethos for fitness is keeping it simple with minimal disruption to your normal life.
He says: “The [other] great benefit of Fast Exercise is practical: it can be slotted into a busy life with relative ease. You can, if you really want, do Fast Exercise in your normal clothes, not even bothering to change into trainers.”
Like Dr Mosley's Intermittent Fasting diet, the four-week plan for Fast Exercise adopts a 5:2 approach of five days working out and two days rest.
Exercises suitable for HIT include skipping, indoor rowing, running, stair running or cycling.
A suggested week-long plan for a beginner to HIT might include skipping for as fast as you can for 90 seconds before resting and repeating, sprinting for 20 second intervals on day two, sprinting on an exercise bike for eight seconds, then 12 seconds recovery and repeat over four minutes, running up stairs and walking back down over four minutes on day four and cycling in a fast burst of three minutes during an eight minute long cycle on day five.
But with the strength of one health and fitness craze already behind him it seems likely that Dr Mosley will be on the fast track to success with his latest no-fuss weight-loss wonder.
Fast Exercise (Short Books) by Dr Michael Mosley with Peta Bee is out now