It's the news you've been waiting for your whole life — you only need a few minutes a day of exercise to burn a whole lot of calories.
According to a study by researchers at Colorado State University and University of Colorado Anschultz Medical Campus, utilizing the practice of sprint interval training can equal big numbers for calories burned.
Interval training is favoured by athletes, thanks to its ability to help increase speed and endurance — not to mention stave off boredom with the normal routines, as noted by Huffington Post blogger Estelle Underwood. As she explains:
Interval training is a type of "anaerobic" exercise training in which you alternate bursts of high intensity activity -- or "work" periods -- with intervals of lighter activity, known as "rest and recovery" periods. So just when you think you can't go on, you get to slow down and take it easy!
So while many trainers have focused on how muscles and lung capacity can be built through these methods, for the everyday exerciser, just what's being burned off can play an even bigger role. For the Colorado study, researchers placed five volunteers on a calorie-maintained diet, then kept them in an enclosed room for two days where their environment could be maintained.
The subjects completed an exercise routine on one of the days, consisting of pedalling to their maximum effort on a stationary bicycle for five 30-second periods, with four minutes of recovery in between during which they pedalled slowly with little resistance.
The results? An extra 200 calories burned on the day of the spring interval workouts — after basically just two-and-a-half minutes to a hardcore workout (though admittedly, with an additional 16 minutes expending some effort in the middle).
"Burning an extra 200 calories from these exercises a couple of times a week can help keep away that pound or two that many Americans gain each year," Kyle Sevits, one of the researchers on the study, said, though he does warn that it's difficult to maintain the level of effort of the volunteers without encouragement.
Other studies have also found that interval training can increase the number of calories burned after a workout as well. Putting those two factors together, why not try adding some intervals to your workout to see how they affect your body?
Let us know if you've tried out interval training — and if you've seen any changes — in the comments below.
Related on HuffPost:
1. Warm Up
<strong>Part 1: </strong>Alternate lifting your knees to your chest four times (right, left, right, left). <br><strong>Part 2:</strong> Alternate kicking your leg to your butt four times (like a hamstring curl). Make sure to use your arms like you are really running. Repeat entire sequence 20 times. <br><strong>2012 Benefit:</strong> By lifting your legs high, your hips and hamstrings will mobilize and your core will activate. As you kick your butt, your quads dynamically stretch as you reach your heel towards your butt. As you pick up your pace, you'll get your heart rate up and your body ready to work.
2. Total Body Make-Over
<strong>Part 1:</strong> Begin by squatting with hands on the floor in front of you. <br><strong>Part 2: </strong>Jump your feet back to a push up position and simultaneously lower your chest to the floor. <br><strong>Part 3:</strong> Using your arms to push up, return to squat position. <br><strong>Part 4:</strong> Jump up and clap your hands together. Repeat 20 times. <br><strong>2012 Benefit:</strong> Full body workout that will get your heart rate up quickly.
3. Chop Away
<strong>Part 1:</strong> Holding one weight with your feet shoulder width apart, pick up your right toes and your left heel to rotate all the way to the right. As you rotate, bring your free weight up to form a diagonal line from your shoulders. <br><strong>Part 2:</strong> In one motion swing it down over your left leg as you rotate into a lunge. Repeat 10 times and then repeat 10 times to the other side. <br><strong>2012 Benefit:</strong> Full body workout that targets the obliques - one of the best belly blasters around!
<strong>Part 1:</strong> Rotate your hips out with your knees tracking over your toes, and squat as far to the floor as you can, putting your hands on the floor in front of you. <br><strong>Part 2:</strong> Push up from the floor, jumping up in the air. Land with bent knees to protect the joints and go back into your squat to prepare for the next jump. Repeat 20 times and try not to stop in between. <br><strong> 2012 Benefit:</strong> Excellent cardio exercise that targets the legs and butt, and opens up the hips.
5. Plank, Jack And Row
<strong>Part 1:</strong> Hold a 12 pound weight (or which ever weight you are comfortable with) in each hand and begin in a plank (top of a push up) with the feet wide. <br><strong>Part 2: </strong>Soften the knees and squeeze the legs together (like a jumping jack). <br><strong>Part 3:</strong> Jump back out to your wide plank. <br><strong> Part 4:</strong> Row one weight to your rib cage, keeping your hips square to the floor. Repeat jack and then row on the other side. Repeat 20 times (10 on each side). <br><strong>2012 Benefit:</strong> Better than any crunches you could ever do, a plank will help define your abs and keep your entire core strong. The jack tests the stability of your plank, especially your hips and back, so work towards keeping your hips facing the floor and your shoulder blades squeezed together. The row will also challenge your stability as it strengthens and sculpts your back and shoulders.
6. Shuffle It Off
Staying on the balls of the feet, quickly step and touch your feet together all the way to the right (Ideally give yourself 15 feet). Shuffle back to the left. This is one rep. Repeat 20 times. <br><strong>2012 Benefit:</strong> Targets the inner and outer thighs, gets your heart rate up, and burns your 2011 calories away.
7. Dip 'N Walk
<br><strong>Part 1: </strong>Sit with your hands behind your butt and feet right under your knees, with your toes lifted off the floor. Hold on to your free weights (to help keep wrists comfortable and stable) and lift your butt up off the floor. <br><strong>Part 2:</strong> Lower your body down by bending at the elbow working the triceps. <br><strong>Part 3 & 4:</strong> After you push back up, keep your arms straight and walk your feet out and in (right, left, right, left). Lower back down into your dip. Repeat ten times leading with the right leg and then ten times leading with the left. <br><strong>2012 Benefit:</strong> Get rid of flabby arms once and for all as you challenge your core, glutes and hamstrings all at the same time.
8. Speed Skaters
<strong>Part 1: </strong> Begin with one leg crossed behind the other. Reach your opposite arm across towards the supporting leg.<br><strong> Part 2:</strong> Just like a professional speed-skater, hop laterally (side to side) and cross back with the opposite leg. One rep equals one hop to the right and one hop to the left. Repeat 20 times quickly. <br><strong>2012 Benefit:</strong> As you work for speed, it becomes a great cardio exercise. Targets the "saddlebag" area that is so hard to get rid of - works outer thighs, hips, glutes and abs all at the same time.
9. Tri Push 'N Plank
<strong>Part 1: </strong> Begin in the top of a pushup position with your hands directly underneath your shoulders. <br><strong>Part 2: </strong>Lower yourself down keeping your elbows close to your sides to work the triceps and chest. <br><strong>Part 3:</strong> As you return rotate your body completely to one side and stack your feet into a side plank. Hold for a count of two before returning center. Push up again and rotate to the opposite side. Repeat 20 times (10 on each side). <br><strong>2012 Benefit: </strong>To perform a successful pushup and side plank (let alone 20), your entire body has to stay tight so you actually end up working every muscle in your body. Additionally, by keeping the elbows in tight you work the triceps more than a regular pushup, while finally getting rid of those turkey arms.
10. Core Control
<strong>Part 1: </strong>Begin on all fours with your left leg extended back and your right hand behind your head. <br><strong>Part 2: </strong>Round your back to the ceiling and slowly bring your opposing knee and elbow to meet into the center of your body. Repeat 10 times and then 10 times on the other side. <br><strong>2012 Benefit:</strong> Strengthen and lengthen your spine and you work your entire core, especially the neglected lower back.
11. Booty Burn
<strong>Part 1: </strong>Holding one weight at chest level, start with your legs shoulder width apart. Squat down with your chest lifted and weight in your heels. Come up quickly so your legs straighten to get full hip extension. <br><strong> Part 2:</strong> Cross your right leg behind your left (enough so you see your right foot on the other side) and lunge down, lowering your weight to the floor. Bicep curl the weight to your chest as you stand back up. Repeat 10 times and then repeat on the other side. <br><strong>2012 Benefit: </strong> By combining these two leg exercises together you'll tone your entire lower body. You'll hit up your glutes, quads and hamstrings with the squat and target your outer and inner thighs with the curtsy (remember to squeeze those inner thighs tight as you curtsy lunge).
12. Picture Perfect Bicycles
Love to work those abs? <br><strong> Part 1:</strong> Lying on your back, with your hands behind your head, pull your knees into your chest and lift your shoulders up off the floor. <br><strong> Part 2:</strong> As you slowly extend one leg out, rotate your torso to the opposite leg. After you rotate, think of lifting up even higher and holding for a few seconds. Repeat on the other side. Repeat 20 times (10 on each side). <br><strong>2012 Benefit: </strong> Strengthen your abs and sculpt your love handles away -- the perfect look for 2012.