How Short Workout Bursts Can Boost Metabolism

Should you work out more than once in a day? Get-Fit Guy shows you that splitting up your daily workout into several shorter fitness breaks can actually boost your metabolism.

Ben Greenfield
2-minute read

I have to admit, the times of my life when I find it easiest to control my body fat percentage and maintain the highest levels of fitness are not necessarily the times when I do a structured workout for a longer period of time. They’re the times when I work out multiple times in a day.

For example, today is a big writing day for me. I’ve written two blog posts, I’m writing this newsletter, and later today, I’ll write an article for a magazine. After I finish writing each piece, I stop and do a quick 20-minute workout—which today is quite similar to the body weight yoga workout I describe in the episode Can Yoga Get You Fit?.

Sure, I could do this all in a giant, 60-minute session at the beginning or end of the day, but by breaking things up intp bursts throughout the day, I keep my metabolism elevated. Also, since each session is shorter, I’m more mentally motivated to make each session more intense.

See also: How to Motivate Yourself to the Gym


As it turns out, there is something to the concept of equal volumes of exercise broken into multiple sessions, compared to one longer session. The recent study, Effect of continuous and intermittent bouts of isocaloric cycling and running exercise on excess postexercise oxygen consumption investigated excess postexercise oxygen consumption (EPOC)—a fancy term for metabolic rate—induced by exercise bouts of continuous and intermittent running and cycling.

Ten healthy men performed 6 bouts of exercise—2 maximal exercise tests for running and cycling to determine peak oxygen uptake and 4 exercise bouts comprised of 2 continuous bouts expending 400 calories and 2 intermittent bouts split into 2 rounds that each burned 200 calories. The combined boost in metabolism from the intermittent bouts was significantly greater than that of the continuous exercise for both cycling and running.

In other words, by exercising continuously rather than breaking things up, your metabolism could be slightly lower than if you structured a workout with exercise intervals.

So the next time you have the option of getting your workout done all at once or breaking it up into multiple bursts throughout the day, go with the latter to get the most fitness bang for your buck.

If you have more questions, head over to Facebook.com/GetFitGuy and ask your questions or join the conversation there!

About the Author

Ben Greenfield

Ben Greenfield received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from University of Idaho in sports science and exercise physiology; personal training and strength and conditioning certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA); a sports nutrition certification from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), an advanced bicycle fitting certification from Serotta. He has over 11 years’ experience in coaching professional, collegiate, and recreational athletes from all sports, and as helped hundreds of clients achieve weight loss and fitness success.