Lifestyle

The five-minute workout that really works

A short and sweet (but oh-so strong) workout you can squeeze in anytime, devised by renowned GP and author, Dr Rangan Chatterjee
Will you be tempted to squeeze a 5 minute workout in your lunch hour? CREDIT: Clare Winfield

At a time when health and well-being are at the forefront of all of our minds, the bookFeel Better in 5 by Dr Rangan Chatterjee is well worth a look. According to Dr Chatterjee, a GP, the trick to sticking to your workout goals, especially when motivating yourself feels impossible, is to do it in easily manageable chunks five days a week. He calls these bite-sized workouts – and other small lifestyle changes he suggests in the book – ‘health snacks’. So will one of his five-minute workouts, the so-called Power 5 series of HIIT circuits, do the business?

First things first, what does the workout entail?

Each minute is dedicated to a different movement, with a rest time dependent on your ability. You’re asked to jog on the spot, do jumping jacks, mountain climbers, press-ups and sumo squats, with all moves explained in detail. Beginners do 20 seconds on with 40 seconds of rest; intermediates split the time equally; and the advanced do 40 seconds on and 20 seconds off. If any of the exercises feel too hard or cause pain, you’re allowed to replace them with an easier option. There are also suggestions of how to increase or decrease the difficulty of a move. I opted for advanced and found that 40 seconds of push-ups definitely wasn’t easy, but I liked the challenge.

Do you really get a sweat on?

Yes. As this is a HIIT circuit, you will work up, at the very least, the start of a sweat; and as you get stronger, you can reduce the time you rest and extend how long you spend doing each exercise to intensify it. By the end of a session, I often felt motivated to do a little more (even when initially I didn’t feel up to it).

Are there health benefits of such a short workout?

HIIT workouts, however short, are good for muscles, brain and bones, and attack ‘visceral fats’, which are linked to increased rates of type 2 diabetes, strokes and heart attacks. Dr Chatterjee also claims that Power 5 in particular helps with sleep.

When’s the best time to do it?

Any time, though before lunch is advised, as apparently it helps you process your meal better.

HIIT: A couple of things you should know…

Tip 1
Leave enough time to change into your workout gear beforehand. There’s nothing worse than scrambling for kit, just to realise your five minutes are up.

Tip 2
Unless you were doing workouts likethis every day before lockdown, don’tjump straight in at the deep end. Learn the techniques slowly, so you will build up and get a more effective workout.

Tip 3
Leave a few extra minutes at the end to do more moves – some days you’ll feel pumped enough to do a little more and you’ll be glad you did.

Be honest: will you keep it up?

I’ll do this on my most sluggish of days and, as the lockdown rolls on, I’ll probably rely on it more and more. It’s just five minutes but still gives the smugness of knowing you’re doing your body some good.

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