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May 4, 2020

What Good is a 4 Second Workout?

Can anything good happen from a 4 second workout? The answer appears to be “yes.” Exercising in 4 second increments repeatedly throughout the day appears to partially offset the more than 10 hours of sitting that most of us now do.

4 second workout
Photo by Hipcravo on Unsplash

And, the amount we sit probably has gone up for many us during this COVID-19 pandemic as we are spending more time indoors and becoming less active as fitness centers and gyms are not open.

All this sitting we do nowadays is not healthy. Prolonged sitting is associated with higher risks of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, increased cholesterol and triglycerides (type of fat).

When our muscles are inactive our bodies have a harder time breaking up triglycerides and processing sugars. Our metabolic machinery is hindered when we are inactive.

The 4 Second Workout

The 4 second workout is a form of high intensity interval training that we have written about several times on this website. The 4 second workout is based on a recent study published this month in Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise in which repeated 4 second bursts of activity were shown to lower triglycerides

The study involved use of stationary bicycle. Volunteers were asked to sprint as hard as possible for 4 seconds followed by a 45 second rest period, then sprint again on the bike repeating that sequence five times. So all total there was 20 seconds of all out exertion.

So calling it a 4 second workout may be misleading. Maybe we should call it the 20 second workout. But, that would be misleading, too.

Because in the study, the participants did five sprints of 4 seconds on the stationary bicycle every hour for 8 hours. Thus, the total time sprinting the stationary bicycle was 160 seconds daily.

The study participants demonstrate triglyceride levels that were 30% lower and burned more fat throughout 6 hours of monitoring after downing a breakfast shake.

This 160 seconds of maximal physical exertion is similar to the Tabata Protocol in which one performs 20 seconds of an all physical effort followed by a 10-second recovery repeated for a total of 8 times over 4 minutes.

The nice thing about the 4 second workout is it is something than can easily be done at the office and especially at home. Just be sure to do the workout every hour during normal business or work hours.

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Dr. Joe Jacko


Dr. Joe is board certified in internal medicine and sports medicine with additional training in hormone replacement therapy and regenerative medicine. He has trained or practiced at leading institutions including the Hughston Clinic, Cooper Clinic, Steadman-Hawkins Clinic of the Carolinas, and Cenegenics. He currently practices in Columbus, Ohio. Read more about Dr. Joe Jacko

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