The 4-Minute Workout is the New HIIT

ATTENTION!! all 9-5ers, people in undergrad/grad school grinding it out at the library, anyone who cuts out exercise at the first sign of overwhelm (cough*everyone*cough), THIS ONE’S FOR YOU.

After I stopped playing hockey I assumed that in order to get a proper workout I had to spend at least an hour at the gym. I would jog on the treadmill for 40-ish minutes, feeling like every second passed by slower than the last. I would then head over to the mats to do a few crunches, maybe hold a plank for 30 seconds, maybe even throw in a few bicycles. I’d stretch for max 5 seconds, then be on my merry way.

Does this sound familiar? Is anyone out there laughing to themselves right now being like, “you legit just described my workout routine.”

Well I have good news for you folks! Turns out you don’t need to cut our 1 or 2 hours a day for exercise in order to feel it’s benefits. In fact, all you need is as little as 4-minutes. Yes you read that correctly...4 MINUTES. Let me explain.

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has been all the rage for a while now because of it’s quick and effective results. In a study done on people with sedentary lifestyles, they found that a mere 30 minutes of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) had the same health benefits as 150 minutes of moderate, endurance exercises like jogging. This is probably not news to you. What might be surprising to you, is that we don’t even need 30 minutes to feel the same benefits.

Dr. Zach Bush has introduced the 4-minute workout, or the “nitric oxide dump” as a way to get the health benefits of exercise on the fly. Here’s how:

Nitric oxide is a molecule that is produced and held in the lining of our blood vessels. When nitric oxide is released, it helps to bring more nutrients and oxygen into the muscles for faster healing and muscle recovery. Not only that, the release of nitric oxide helps to lower blood pressure, increase immune system functioning, and builds lean body mass so that you’re ultimately able to burn more fat. The cool thing is that your muscles store about 90 seconds worth of nitric oxide at any given time, which means that it only takes each major muscle group 90ish seconds to release nitric oxide and for you to get all those juicy health benefits! Not bad, right?!

So the 4-minute workout was designed to release nitric oxide as quickly as possible in 16 major muscle groups. Here’s how you do it:

Start with 10 reps of each of the following exercises (eventually working your way up to 20 reps). 3 sets total. See pictures below for proper technique form.

  1. Squat

  2. Tin Soldiers

  3. Snow Angels

  4. Military Press

Things to keep in mind:

  1. Always breathe through your nose

  2. Move as quickly as you can while maintaining proper form

  3. Nitric oxide takes about 2 hours to rebuild in your body, so wait at least that long in-between each workout you do

  4. You’ll know nitric oxide is being released when you feel a tingling sensation in your extremities

If you’re feeling frustrated that you don’t have the time to workout these days, I challenge you to incorporate the 4-minute workout into your schedule at least 2-3x a day. Set your alarm for 9am, 12pm, and 3pm every day and get moving. That’s 12 minutes. No gym clothes or equipment necessary. Your body and mind will thank you later.

xo Eliza

The Exercises:

Exercise #1: The Squat. Move rapidly up and down while maintaining most of your weight in your heels. Make sure to brace with the core and keep your arms parallel to the ground. Shoulders back, chest nice and proud.

Exercise #1: The Squat. Move rapidly up and down while maintaining most of your weight in your heels. Make sure to brace with the core and keep your arms parallel to the ground. Shoulders back, chest nice and proud.

Exercise #2: Tin Soldiers. Create a tight fist with both hands. Alternate bringing your right fist up, then your left to parallel to the floor. This should be quick while controlling the arms on the way up and down.

Exercise #2: Tin Soldiers. Create a tight fist with both hands. Alternate bringing your right fist up, then your left to parallel to the floor. This should be quick while controlling the arms on the way up and down.

Exercise #3: Snow Angels. Click your fists together over your head, then move your arms laterally down to click again at the bottom. This picture shows me in mid-rep with arms out laterally. This should be quick and make sure you click your fists together to ensure full range of motion.

Exercise #3: Snow Angels. Click your fists together over your head, then move your arms laterally down to click again at the bottom. This picture shows me in mid-rep with arms out laterally. This should be quick and make sure you click your fists together to ensure full range of motion.

Exercise #4: Military Press. Move your arms up and down as quickly as you can over your head. Make sure you’re controlling your arms on the way up and down, keeping your shoulder downs.

Exercise #4: Military Press. Move your arms up and down as quickly as you can over your head. Make sure you’re controlling your arms on the way up and down, keeping your shoulder downs.