Preliminary research on high-intensity training benefits may motivate people who prefer short training sessions and are concerned about diabetes risk. University of Glasgow researchers in Scotland found that 15-minute strength training workouts, done three times a week for 6 weeks, dramatically improved insulin sensitivity and boosted muscle size and strength among 10 young, overweight men.

While prior research had shown that single-set training could lead to muscle mass and strength increases, it was not known whether shorter exercise duration could improve insulin sensitivity. In this study, all participants completed one set of nine exercises, at 80% of one-repetition maximum to failure, three times a week.

Study limitations included its small size, the lack of a control group and the fact that subjects did not have diabetes. Study authors hypothesized that this strength training protocol would help those with type 2 diabetes because more traditional resistance exercise programs have improved insulin sensitivity in people with insulin-resistant type 2 diabetes. A large-scale randomized controlled trial is recommended.

The open source study is available in Experimental Physiology (2019; doi:10.1113/EP087435).

Shirley Archer-Eichenberger, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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