Use the 10-20-30 Training Concept to Run Faster by Running Less

Hate running?

Want Less Train and More Gain? It sounds like a late-night commercial gimmick, but according to recent scientific studies, you can improve health and aerobic performance with less training.

Work Smarter, Not Harder

They say it’s easy to work hard, but hard to work smart. This is especially true of the community known as “Jarheads” or “Leathernecks”. So how would you increase your running performance?

  • Working harder: hit the treadmill more!
  • Working smarter: train less, just more effectively.

For example, observe the results of a University of Copenhagen study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology:

Over the course of seven weeks, runners were able to improve performance on a 1500-metre run by 23 seconds and almost by a minute on a 5-km run — and this despite a 50 per cent reduction in their total amount of training.

Healthwise, the runners also saw a significant decrease in blood pressure and a reduction in blood cholesterol.

The 10-20-30 training concept

  1. One kilometer warmup: Low intensity
  2. Three or four blocks of five minutes running, with 2 minutes of rest following each block
  3. Each block is five total one-minute intervals of 30, 20, 10 seconds low, medium, and high intensity, respectively.

The Results Are In

“We were very surprised to see such an improvement in the health profile considering that the participants have been running for several years,” says Professor Jens Bangsbo, Department of Exercise and Sport Sciences, who heads the project.

“The results show that the very intense training has a great potential for improving health status of already trained individuals,” says Professor Bangsbo.

PhD student Thomas Gunnarsson adds that the emotional well-being of the participants also improved over the span of the project.

“We found a reduction in emotional stress when compared to control subjects continuing their normal training based on a recovery-stress questionnaire administered before and after the 7-week training period,” explains Gunnarsson.

Well, what are you waiting for? Get training!


New research shows runners can improve health and performance with less training, 31/5/12, Jens Bangsbo, University of Copenhagen. The study was supported by the Nordea-fonden, Copenhagen, Denmark, and the results are published in the Journal of Applied of Physiology.

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