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Is it Feasible to Condense a Workout into Four Seconds?

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This isn’t just HIIT. It’s elevated HIIT.

The principle of HIIT, also known as “high-intensity interval training,” seems straightforward on the surface. You exert maximum effort in exercise for approximately 30 seconds, take a brief pause, and then dive back in. It’s an extremely rigorous training method that isn’t for the faint-hearted. Nevertheless, within the realm of HIIT enthusiasts, there exist a daring few who desire to push boundaries even further. But can a genuine workout be condensed into a timeframe even shorter than the usual HIIT duration? According to a recent study, it might just be possible.

In a publication by Dr. Edward Coyle, a professor of kinesiology and health education at the University of Texas, featured in The New York Times, he proposed the theoretical possibility of condensing an entire HIIT routine into a mere four seconds. That’s shorter than the time it’s taking me to craft this sentence.

Dr. Coyle’s research focused on specially designed stationary bikes. He observed that professional athletes, in the span of two to four seconds, could maximize both aerobic capacity and power output on these bikes. These intense bursts of effort were repeated up to 30 times, interspersed with rest periods of 15 to 30 seconds. Theoretically, this form of exercise maximizes aerobic power quickly, promotes efficient fat burning, and undoubtedly challenges the leg muscles to their limits.

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However, Dr. Coyle’s findings are not yet definitive. The athletes tested on the bikes belonged to specific age groups and body types, and were using the specially designed equipment. Attempting this on home workout gear might not yield the same results, or worse, could lead to injury. This type of training is extremely demanding and is not advised for anyone other than trained athletes who possess mastery in proper workout techniques. If you’re already as muscular as the Hulk, you might consider giving it a go, but otherwise, sticking to conventional HIIT training is recommended.

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