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Try 30-20-10 running to get fit fast, with less effort

A new study has shown that runners putting out less effort still reap all the benefits from a 30-20-10 workout

racers on road

Interval training is a simple, effective way for runners to add speed, and the 30-20-10 method (sometimes called 10-20-30) is a popular way for runners to boost performance by sprinting short distances. The method involves runners beginning with an easy 30-second run, kicking up the pace for the next 20 seconds, and blasting into a 10-second sprint. It has been demonstrated to improve runners’ performance time dramatically while requiring fewer miles.

New research from the University of Copenhagen’s Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports (NEXS) suggests that you do not necessarily need to run full-speed in the final 10-second sprint to reap the benefits of the workout. Researchers had 19 participants run either three or four, five-minute blocks of interval training.

woman starting postion track

Half of the participants were instructed to max out on their sprint, while the other half were told to sprint at only 80 per cent. The participants who had been instructed to perform at only 80 per cent during the final sprint achieved as much progress in their running performance and fitness as the group that sprinted with 100 per cent effort.

Short runs still have major health benefits, research says

“The result of the study really came as a surprise,” says Jens Bangsbo, a professor of physiology and science at the University of Copenhagen. “We think that it is related to the fact that training at 80 per cent of one’s maximum still gets the heart rate up significantly higher than a runner’s typical training. A higher heart rate leads to improvements in heart function and circulation, as evidenced in their times and fitness levels.”

group of runners in park

Get started with a 30-20-10 workout

Warm up with 10 minutes of very easy running.

Run easy for 30 seconds, kick up the pace to what feels like a moderate effort for 20 seconds, and sprint for 10 seconds. Immediately repeat the cycle four more times, cycling through continuously for five minutes.

Recover with easy running for two minutes. Then repeat step the five-minute cycle two or three more times.

Cool down with 10 minutes of easy running.

This type of training has also been shown to lower blood pressure and LDL cholesterol, even if you don’t feel like maxing out on effort.

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