FastExercise: The Simple Secret of High-Intensity Training

FastExercise: The Simple Secret of High-Intensity Training

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by Michael Mosley, Peta Bee

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Just ten minutes a day, three times a week, can change your health for life.

Hailed as “a health revolution” by the New York Times, Michael Mosley’s FastDiet—also known as the 5:2 diet—gave the world a healthy new way to lose weight through intermittent fasting. Now, Dr. Mosley addresses the essential complement to…  See more details below


Just ten minutes a day, three times a week, can change your health for life.

Hailed as “a health revolution” by the New York Times, Michael Mosley’s FastDiet—also known as the 5:2 diet—gave the world a healthy new way to lose weight through intermittent fasting. Now, Dr. Mosley addresses the essential complement to the FastDietFastExercise—teaming up with leading sports scientist Professor Jamie Timmons and super-fit health journalist Peta Bee to turn conventional wisdom on its head when it comes to working out. Responding to the latest research on high-intensity training (HIT), FastExercise dispenses with the practice of boring, time-consuming regimens, demonstrating that all it takes is half an hour a week to lower blood glucose levels, reduce your risk for disease, help you lose weight, and maximize your overall health.

Throughout the book, the authors offer a range of workouts that take just ten minutes a day, three times a week, and can be done anytime, anywhere. Whether it’s pedaling at high resistance while waiting for your kettle to boil or holding a plank during commercials, research has shown the extraordinary impact that ultra-short bursts of HIT can have, whatever your age or level of fitness.

Throughout, Michael Mosley and Peta Bee break down the science behind this radically different approach to exercise and give you the tools to take advantage of the most flexible and efficient method out there. It’s a practical, enjoyable way to get maximal benefits in minimal time, short and fast, something that can become a sustainable part of your routine, as instinctive as brushing your teeth. The benefits are innumerable, and the time to start is now.

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Editorial Reviews

New York Times
Praise for THE FASTDIET:

"A health revolution."

Mail on Sunday
“The only diet you'll ever need.”
Daily Mail
“The biggest diet revolution since Atkins.”
Good Morning America
“Fans of the FastDiet report becoming radically healthier by fasting two days a week.”
Professor Stuart M. Phillips
“A nice narrative introduction to HIIT... excellent practical advice on how get started with ‘Fast Exercise’ and some really nice tips on how to keep going... informative, easy to understand... offers not only good health but a host of spillover benefits besides... Fast Exercise is the way of the future.”
Carl Johan Sundberg
“A great practical introduction into the field of high intensity exercise. The personal perspective matched with references to the both old and new scientific literature provides compelling reading.”

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  • OVER THE LAST COUPLE OF years I’ve noted a remarkable transformation in Dr. Michael Mosley. Gone is the middle-aged spread I saw when we first met and in its place are superefficient muscles, doing a good job of rapidly clearing away the high levels of sugar and fat that used to hang around in his arteries after each meal. I flatter myself that at least part of this transformation stems from our work together, in 2011, on a documentary—for which we put Michael through his paces in our lab and introduced him to high-intensity training (or HIT for short).

    Michael was at that time searching for solutions to combat his family history of Type 2 diabetes—solutions which he knew would include exercise, but ideally in a form that was as brief and effective as possible. The reason we met was because my team in Edinburgh had recently completed a study demonstrating that just a few minutes of high-intensity cycling a week could dramatically improve your diabetes risk factors.

    This sounds, on the surface, like an absurd claim. We “know” that to get the benefits of exercise, like aerobic and metabolic fitness, you have to put in the hours. But is that really true?

    When I was twelve years old I ran my first half marathon in Renfrew, Scotland. Over the following ten years I must have run over 20,000 miles, and also completed many hours of gym training. I did so because this is what science told us was required to improve aerobic performance.

    Even before starting at Glasgow University (to become a dentist, of all things), I was an avid reader of exercise science books. During my intercalated degree studies, which focused on exercise physiology, I began to realize that much of the classic exercise science—carried out only by athletes or small numbers of superhealthy Scandinavians—was not a reliable guide to how exercise modifies health and physiology in the general public.

    My first introduction to HIT was not, however, in a lecture theater but on the track. Early in the track season my coach, John Toner, had me doing sets of 3 x 200 meters with three minutes of recovery and not much more. This was not normal training for a distance runner, but it at least had the virtue of being quick. I was intrigued.

    During my last year at Glasgow, I decided to carry out a training intervention study as my honors project. Working with the youth team at our athletics club, we put them through ten weeks of high-intensity interval training and found improvements in performance and efficiency way beyond what was achieved through regular endurance training. Just after graduating, I presented my findings at my first scientific conference, organized by McMaster University, fittingly enough where modern “cycle-based” HIT was born.

    Since then I have spent twenty years working on human physiology, exercise, and genomics, trying to explain the links between exercise and health. For the past ten years, at our university laboratories in the United Kingdom, in Scandinavia, and with colleagues in Canada, we have put hundreds of volunteers through different forms of HIT. Medical tests have shown that just a few minutes of HIT, done three times a week, can deliver improvements in line with the benefits you’d get from doing many hours of conventional exercise.

    Importantly, these findings have come out of independent studies done in several countries—notably by professors Martin Gibala at McMaster University in Canada, Niels Vollaard at the University of Bath, and Ulrik Wisloff in Norway.

    One of the reasons we do this research is because we are interested in time. Or rather the lack of it. We all know there are good reasons for doing exercise. As well as improving fitness, there are long-term health benefits in reducing risk factors associated with cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

    But we also know that following conventional exercise recommendations involves time and effort. Critically, lack of time is the most common reason people give for not doing any organized physical activity.

    I believe that we have now produced sufficient data to be able to recommend short bursts of high-intensity exercise as a safe and effective alternative to conventional workouts, removing the “time barrier” as an excuse for not exercising. This will hopefully boost compliance and help people to take up an approach that will lead to a healthier way of life. The great thing about HIT is that it can be done in the workplace or at home without preplanning or missing an episode of your favorite TV show.

    I also believe that when it comes to advances in exercise science, we have only begun to scratch the surface, that our increased understanding of genomics and metabolomics will soon help us tailor or personalize lifestyle advice.

    Once upon a time we assumed that everyone got roughly the same benefit from exercise and that if people didn’t it was because they were slacking. Today we know that the way each person responds to exercise is unique and we can use genomic testing to help personalize goal setting.

    By early 2013 nearly a million people in the United States had already signed up for full genome-scans with the hope of understanding their health better and avoiding the risk factors most relevant to their genes. Tailored advice is better advice and better advice should reduce chronic disease, ultimately reducing pressure on our public health services. By combining simple solutions like HIT with hi-tech solutions like DNA profiling we hope to pinpoint the optimal exercise protocol to help control the risk factors most relevant to each individual and not some abstract population “average.”

    Doing the science is critical. But without translation of this “science” into a useful and practical guide, one that can be used by anyone, our science fails to make an impact.

    I recommend FastExercise because it is an up-to-date account of the latest studies but one which also demystifies some quite complex science, opening eyes to how easily an exercise regime can fit into a daily routine.

    Following Michael and Peta’s advice, and our science, should help you reduce your risk of various chronic diseases and, who knows, you may even find yourself enjoying a workout for the first time!

    Professor Jamie Timmons

    December 2013

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