Short, High-Intensity Weight Training and Diabetes Risk

“Train short and train hard” may be new training mantra.

By Shirley Archer, JD, MA
May 21, 2019

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, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is the 2008 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year and is IDEA's mind-body-spirit spokesperson. She is a certified yoga and Pilates teacher and an award-winning author based in Los Angeles, California, and Zurich, Switzerland. Two of her books, The Walking Deck and The Strength and Toning Deck, are now featured as iPhone apps. Contact her at

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