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FITNESS

Minute to burn it

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Bored by long workouts? Just seven fast and furious minutes can produce results.

Seven minutes - that's probably how long as it takes to eat a burger. Now, that's how long it takes to burn it off. Smart exercisers have woken up to the merits of the short and intense workouts that burn more by doing less.

Shankh Sengupta, a 32-year-old lawyer, has to pack in workouts whenever he gets time from the grind of client meetings, filing long winding replies to legal suits, court proceedings and constant travel. "My trainer has given me a 15-minute routine, which works out all the major muscle groups in the body - upper body, core and lower body - and ends with a simple cardio exercise, like jumping jacks, " says Sengupta. He feels just as energetic as he used to after spending close to an hour sweating it out in the gym.

Arun Arora, a Delhi-based personal trainer, says that most of his high profile clients are switching to shorter workouts. "For the shorter routine I ask them to do push-ups for the upper body, crunches for the middle and squats for legs. On-the-spot jogging or jumping jacks provide cardio exercise. All of this in five minutes;then a 30-second break followed by repetitions, " says Arora. Bicep curls, shoulder rotations and lunges can also be added for improvisation. He adds that this routine increases metabolic rate and calorie burn-up.

This short - 10 to 20 minutes - but power-packed workout peppered with micro resting periods is called high intensity interval training or HIIT in fitness parlance. "Crossfit, Tabata and Parkour are some popular examples of such high intensity exercises. You exercise at high intensity for 20 seconds then rest for 10 seconds. Such workouts increase lean muscle mass and also burn more calories, " says Nisha Varma, a Reebok Master Trainer based in Pune.

A new study published in the latest edition of the American College of Sports Medicine's Health & Fitness Journal talks about the benefits of a - believe it or not - seven-minute workout. Researchers at the Human Performance Institute in Orlando listed 12 simple exercises, which can be performed by using one's body weight with a wall and a chair as props. "To address the limitations of traditional exercise protocols and provide an effective and efficient programme for our clients, one of the exercise strategies we use is high-intensity circuit training (HICT) using body weight as resistance. Our approach combines aerobic and resistance training into a single exercise bout lasting approximately seven minutes. Participants can repeat the sevenminute bout two to three times, depending on the amount of time they have, " write researchers Brett Klika and Chris Jordan.

The study found that the combination of aerobic (walking, jumping, running, jogging etc) and resistance training (lifting weights, crunches, push-ups etc) leads to a significant fat loss.

Sahil Chadha, 26, vouches for this fact. Slightly overweight, Chadha earlier used to jog for up to two kilometres every day. For the past one month he has joined a Crossfit studio in Gurgaon. The short but brutal program mixes aerobic and strength training to give maximum results. "If I completed the workout in 25 minutes yesterday, I will aim for 20 today and maybe 15 tomorrow. I want to achieve more in less, " says Chadha who works at Osian's auction house. Clearly, hyper efficient, you-blink-and-miss workouts are here to stay. So before you turn to the next story, pack in a couple of crunches and two seconds of rest.

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