Not everyone who goes to the gym gets results, but it’s not because they’re bad at working out. It turns out that some people are actually “non-responders” and don’t benefit from certain kinds of exercise.
But a new study recently published in PLOS One suggests that there is a workout that works for every person.
When Canadian researchers assessed the physical fitness of 21 healthy men and women before and after they did 30 minutes of steady stationary biking (aka endurance training) four times a week for three weeks, only two-thirds of the participants surfaced in better shape, at least aerobically. (The researchers didn’t measure other outcomes, like change in weight, strength, mood, appetite, or any other factors affected by exercise, at least in theory.)
A few months later, after the results of all that initial effort wore off, the researchers repeated the experiment on the same group. This time, participants switched up their pedaling pace, doing 20 second sprints followed by 10 seconds of rest (aka interval training). Again, about a third of the participants saw little if any improvements at the end of the three weeks.
Still, every single participant responded to at least one of the exercise programs, suggesting there is no one-size-fits-all approach to exercise, according to study author and associate professor of kinesiology Brendon Gurd, who spoke to the New York Times.
If your current routine doesn’t seem to be working, aerobically — i.e., you’re going through the motions, but feel no better equipped to chase a bus or scale a staircase — consider switching up your pace (going from steady cardio to intervals, or intervals to steady cardio) to really see a difference.