Are 5 Minute Workouts Enough to Get Results?


Are 5 Minute Workouts Enough?

Or are they just catchy schemes to make headlines and sell products?

In today’s culture, we want things now. Food can’t get delivered fast enough. Slow internet is cause for aggression. And if it requires a few days (or some case hours) wait, it’s probably not worth it.

So we applied the latest and greatest time crunch craze to fitness, and short workouts started popping up everywhere – 5 minute abs, 6 minutes to slim, yada yada yada.

These fitness programs or products preach that a few minutes of fitness each day is all you need to see real results.

But are these short little workouts really enough to transform your body? Or are these folks just making junk up to sell products?

We did the research.

And one main study popped up over and over as the study with the evidence to elevate these quick workouts to stardom. 

The study was about running and death. Or should I say avoiding death.

Goes like this:

Big, big study – had over 55,000 adult participants that were studied for 15 years.

Over those 15 years, they found that the people were who regularly ran decreased their risk of dying from heart disease by 45%.

Now that’s pretty huge. 

But the interesting part about this study that those short workout folks latched on to was this: the people who ran avoided early death.  But running longer didn’t mean you lived longer.  All that mattered was that you ran.

So then the headlines came out: 5 minutes of running is all you need to reduce your risk of death!

Awesome, right? Hit the pavement for half a mile and reap a few extra years on your life!

But here’s the thing –

What those 5 minute workout sellers didn’t read about were the nitty gritty details of that study.

In the study, people were divided into pretty much 3 groups:

  1. The non-runners (aka early death victims)
  2. Runners who ran less than 51 minutes per week
  3. Runners who ran more than 51 minutes per week

So there was no difference between the less than 51 or the more than 51 minutes per week in relation to avoiding death.  They both avoided it the same.

But how did we get 5 minutes of running from ‘running less than 51 minutes per week?’

If the average person runs 3x per week, they are still running for about 17 minutes at time. Not 5.

So there’s a bit of confusion.  The researchers don’t really know how long people were running for, how many times they ran, or what their average length of run was.  Only that their total weekly average was more or less than 51 minutes. 

So that low time group could be doing one long run a week. Or 20 minute runs per week. But are they really doing just 5 minutes at a time and still avoiding death by heart disease?

Highly unlikely…

But since we don’t really know, the 5 minute claims were made.

So we’ve got this new magical 5 minute workout plan.

And then a second study popped up to ‘support’ it.

In this second study, researchers found that short bursts of exercise are more effective at fat and calorie burn that long, slow and steady workouts.

So those short worker-outer folks combined them together: just 5 minutes of HIIT training will transform you forever!

The problem is this:

The first study doesn’t have any evidence that 5 minutes of exercise is all you need.  

And the second study did find that HIIT training is effective, but not just 5 minutes of it. They looked at 20-30 minute workouts. That’s the effective length.

So the big question: are 5 minute workouts a day enough to transform you?

The short answer: incredibly unlikely.  But because it’s never actually been studied, we don’t really know for sure. 

However, here are a few thoughts:

  • If you have to choose between a 5 minute workout and nothing, the 5 minute is better
  • For newbies exercising for the very first time, starting with just 5 minutes at a time might be the safest introduction. But as you progress, you will need to up that time to keep seeing progress.
  • You can get your heart rate up, blood flowing and fat burning perks from just a 5-minute workout. BUT you would need to spend 5-10 minutes before that warming up and then use max effort on those 5 minutes of training. I’m talking serious max effort that leaves you gasping for air at the end.  But ideally, you could repeat that 2 or 3 more times for real results.
  • And finally, I think there is a place for 5 minute workouts. If that’s all the time you’ve got, then do those mini workouts 5x per day. Sometimes we’ve got to squeeze a workout in when we can!

Realistically, 5 minutes per day isn’t enough to see real change. But it’s certainly better than nothing.

But for noticeable fat loss, increases in muscle of just better general health – you’ll need to do a bit more than just a fiver.

man and woman holding kettlebells doing a 5 minute workout

Like this article? Then check out this one too!

It’s especially important if you’ve only got a few minutes to train! 

Compound Movements: The Ultimate Fat Burning Exercises


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