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As the world gets busier, the news our workouts could get shorter is very welcome.
When I came across the term micro workout I was instantly intrigued. The idea that a workout could be not just short but micro, well hallelujah, praise be, dreams can come true!
I was also intrigued because as a time poor, working from home, remote learning support person for two primary aged children, perhaps I may just be able to fit some decent exercise in.
To find out about all thing’s micro workout (and whether this is the answer to all my exercise dilemmas) I spoke with General Manager of Training at the Australian Institute of Fitness, Brodie Hicks.
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Hicks says that “a micro workout is a short, sharp, burst of physical activity typically performed within a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) style format. Sessions last for between 4-12 minutes and are fantastic for individuals who are time-poor but are still looking to kick those health and fitness goals.”
And as well as being short and sharp they can also burn serious calories he explains (cue fist pumps).
“Micro workouts can be a really effective tool in increasing caloric expenditure throughout the day. This benefit is largely due to the nature of the session being high intensity.”
“When we train at a high intensity, we are often training in a zone where the amount of oxygen we can supply our muscles cannot meet the oxygen demand. In other terms, we are working at such a high intensity that our body has to rely on other forms of energy production outside of that provided by oxygen.”
Hicks says that the higher intensity a workout session is, the more calories we burn, “meaning we may burn as many calories in a short 12-minute micro workout when compared to a 45-minute light-moderate intensity session.”
But it’s not just the benefit of calorie burning that micro workouts can provide, they can also create a phenomenon known as EPOC, or Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption.
“The higher the intensity of the session, the more energy we use from alternate methods other than oxygen (known as our anaerobic system). Using energy from this alternate system causes an oxygen debt that we must pay back. Repaying this debt will often result in an elevated heart rate for a number of hours after the conclusion of the session, effectively meaning that for the same period of time we will be burning more calories than we typically would,” explains Hicks.
Another great (and efficient) component of micro workouts is that there are a wide variety of them, meaning you can tailor the session to what you enjoy and what equipment you have available. Many micro workouts can even be done without leaving the home and with minimal equipment.
“Sessions can be as complex as multiple sets of barbell complexes with minimal rest, or as simple as repeated hill sprints for those who love a serious burn,” Hicks says.
So, if you like me are even more intrigued about micro workouts now that you’ve heard more, Hicks has provided three sessions to get started!
Workout 1: Tabata session
This can be performed at home or at the gym with minimal equipment. All you will need is a Kettlebell and some space.
Tabata Session: 20 seconds work, 10 seconds rest, 2 rounds (4 min)
- Jump Squats, then rest
- Alternating BW Lunges, then rest
- Kettlebell Swings, rest
- Kick-Sits, then rest
After the first four-minute block, take a 1-min rest and repeat 2-3 times.
Workout 2: All-out cardio fest
You will need access to a gym for this one unless you have these pieces at home. If you are one to get bored with one piece of equipment, feel free to mix it up after round one.
HIIT Intervals: 30 seconds work, 30 seconds rest, 6 rounds (6 min)
- Your choice of:
- Assault Bike
- Row Ergometer
- Ski Ergometer
- Spin Bike
After the first six-minute block, take a 2-min rest and repeat again.
If you are at home and don’t have access to this equipment, you may like to try sprints, or hill sprints in the same format.
Workout 3: Barbell workout
For this session you will require a barbell. Ensure not to add too much weight, as the accumulative effect of this complex will build as the set goes on.
Barbell Complex: Complete 6 reps of each without rest in between (i.e., transition from one movement to the next)
- Bent-Over Row
- Front Squat
- Back Squat
- Reverse Lunge
Rest 60-90 seconds and repeat 4 times!
Shona Hendley is a freelance writer and ex-secondary school teacher. You can follow her on Instagram here.
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