Getting Fitter Faster
It’s the dream of every busy person trying to get in shape or maintain their fitness levels —intense work outs in less time. Western Colorado University High Altitude Exercise Physiology Program team has proven it can be done.
The team led by Exercise & Sports Science professor Lance Dalleck, Ph.D. recently tested an artificial intelligence-powered spin bike called CAROL. The acronym stands for “Cardiovascular Optimization Logic” and uses high intensity interval training to help users train harder and faster.
But there’s a twist—a reduction in the amount of time needed (reduced-exertion high-intensity training—or REHIT) provide the benefits of longer workouts in a shorter period.
Building the Research
To prove the efficiency of the bike, Dalleck enlisted 16 men and 16 women to participate in a two-month long training program. Researchers found that those who participated in the REHIT training burned more than twice the calories than the control group which used a treadmill.
Dalleck said that in evaluating a work-out it is important to understand that energy is expended not only during exercise, but also after. The researcher explained the just a few short high-intensity bursts are enough to activate the mitochondria within our cells to improve cardiovascular and metabolic health.
“We’ve been conditioned to think that more is better, harder is better—but that’s not how the body works,” Dalleck said.
The CAROL Bike Workout
The typical CAROL bike workout is about eight-and-a-half minutes long. It includes a two-minute warm up, two all-out sprints for 20 seconds with three minutes of recovery in between, and a cool down of three minutes. The workout targets glycogen—or sugar stored in the muscles—for energy use faster than regular exercise. They body adapts and insulin sensitivity improves, in fact six sessions have shown a 25% improvement.
Dalleck studied preliminary research prior to taking on any CAROL bike studies and found that the foundational findings supported what his study eventually concluded. Additionally, he praised the bike’s artificial intelligence by personalizing workouts for the individual user.
Perhaps most importantly, he said, was the short amount of time required for a person to improve their fitness level—the No. 1 health measure that he said best predicts risk for heart disease and premature mortality.
“I’m excited to see the transition to something more time efficient,” Dalleck said. “One of the areas where we have focused is doing personalize workouts. I’ve seen this is the best approach for fitness. We need to personalize workouts that everyone is getting in order to align with what they need.”
Dalleck estimates that following more research health agencies will issue guidelines for REHIT within the next five years.
Learn more about Western’s M.S. in Exercise & Sport Science: High Altitude Exercise Physiology (HAEP) Program.
Author Credit: Chris Rourke
Photo Credit: Chris Rourke