A good workout is all about mind over matter. At the gym, the battle between your mind and your body comes down to how far you can push yourself. According to a recent study published in the journal Medicine & Science In Sports & Exercise, you can trick yourself into a harder workout by following the 60-second rule — working out in short intervals and resting — as opposed to long stretches without a break.

This type of workout is referred to as high intensity interval training (HIIT). This is a training technique where exercisers put their 100 percent effort through quick, intense bursts of exercise, which is followed by short recovery periods. This keeps the heart rate up and burns more fat in less time.

A 2014 study published in the journal PLOS ONE suggests short and intense bursts of exercise benefits your muscles and body just as well as the longer bursts. This short-term interval training (SIT) was seen as a “potent stimulus” for physiological adaptations linked to greater health in overweight and obese adults. Researchers continue to delve deeper into the potential benefits HIIT and the implication it may have on treating overweight and obesity.

Dr. Marcus Kilpatrick, author of the study and associate professor at the School of Physical Education & Exercise Science at the University of South Florida and his colleagues, claim to have found the magic number when it comes to HIIT. The researchers sought to compare rated perceived exertion (RPE) responses before, during, and after continuous and HIIT exercise trials in a cohort of overweight and sedentary adults. A total of 20 participants, 11 females, and 9 males, completed a 20-minute heavy continuous trial and a three 24-minute severe-intensity intervals trials that utilized 1:1 work-to-recovery ratios. The participants did three different intervals of exercise during which they rested for 30 seconds on and off, then 60 seconds on and off and 120 seconds on and off.

The findings revealed the participants reported thinking the short intervals were easier, despite being of the same intensity. This led researchers to conclude that intervals with perceived less effort would be more effective in achieving fitness goals. “Because effort perception may influence behavior, these results could have implications for the prescription of interval training in overweight sedentary adults,” concluded the researchers.

This 60-second rule is just one of the many mental tricks utilized when it comes to boosting fitness levels. A 2008 study published in the Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology found carefully selected music can significantly increase a person’s physical endurance and make cardiovascular exercise a far more positive experience. The participants on the treadmill listened to a selection of motivational rock or pop music, including tracks by Queen, the Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Madonna. When keeping strict time with the beat, exercisers improved their endurance by 15 percent, along with their feelings like deriving much greater pleasure from the task.

Exercising really is mind over matter. Doing HIIT workouts with music on may just make your fitness game strong.


Lende DH, Little JP, Jung ME et al. Impact of High-Intensity Interval Duration on Perceived Exertion. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2015.

Gillen J, Percival M, Skelly L, Martin B, Tan R, et al. Three Minutes of All-Out Intermittent Exercise per Week Increases Skeletal Muscle Oxidative Capacity and Improves Cardiometabolic Health. PLoS ONE. 2014.

Karageorghis C and Priest DL. Music in Sport and Exercise: An Update on Research and Application. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology. 2008.