Too good to be true? (Picture: CAR.O.L)

None of us have enough time. We’re always going on about it. How busy we are, how we don’t even have time to see our friends, or rest, let alone workout.

The good news is that workouts are getting shorter. Most of us now know that you can have a more efficient session with 20-minutes of HIIT than by plodding on the treadmill for an hour or more.

But what if it was possible to take it to the next level and get your daily fitness requirement done in less than a minute?

A new AI-powered exercise bike promises just that.

CAR.O.L (which stands for CARdiovascular Optimization Logic) is a stationary bike that boasts a 40-second workout which, they say, is clinically proven to give you the same cardio benefits of a 45-minute jog.

It sounds too good to be true. But they have science to back it up.

The American Council on Exercise did an independent trial on the CAR.O.L bike and found that the effects on the body of 2 x 20-second sprints, three times a week, are the same as the recommended 5 x 30 minutes of exercise a week, or a 45-minute jog.

Head to the fourth floor of Harvey Nichols (Picture: CAR.O.L)

We were still skeptical. Can you really push your aerobic fitness and build and tone your muscles in just 40-seconds of hard work? We went to try it out for ourselves.

The bikes are located on the top floor of Harvey Nichols, you can rock up in your work clothes, no need for kit of trainers – because you’re not going to break a sweat in 40 seconds.

But before we hopped on the bike, we were given an eye mask and headphones for 10-minutes of meditation on a reclining chair, to help us get in the zone. Which was nice.

Then it was ride time. The full workout actually takes nine minutes, but you’re only working hard for 40 seconds of that. You start with a two-minute warm up, sprint as hard as you physically can for 20 seconds, recover for three minutes, sprint for another 20 seconds, and then cool down for three minutes.

We were also given a full-body scan which measured everything about us from our height, weight and age to our muscle-mass composition – so the bike knows you inside out before you even start riding.

This means that when you hit your sprint, the resistance automatically adjusts to make sure you’re working at maximum intensity – and you don’t have to press any buttons or even think about it.

The more sessions you do, the more the bike learns about you, and the smarter your ride will become.

You’ve heard of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), but this is MIIT (Maximum Intensity Interval Training) – which means the intervals are even shorter, and even harder.

The point of this is to rapidly deplete your glycogen stores. To cope with the sudden demand for energy, your body will then burn large amounts of long-chain carbohydrates stored in the muscle – within 10 seconds.

This means you’re not only burning fat quickly, it also triggers molecular changes that signal to the body to improve your fitness, fat metabolism and remodel muscles. It means you’ll be better prepared to cope with similar stress in future.



How does the CAR.O.L bike work?

  • Using AI, the bike automates and personalises, with self-learning algorithms to optimise your workout – it’s like a having your own scientist calibrating every session.
  • Audio and visual prompts guide you through each session, working all the time to give you the optimum workout, slowing you down if you’re working too hard and making you work harder to get you to your peak.
  • A session on CAR.O.L rapidly depletes glycogen stores and burns fat – supercharging your workout.

How does the CAR.O.L workout impact your body?

‘When you push your body to its maximum (during the the 2 x 20-second sprints), your body reacts like it’s being chased by a tiger,’ say the founders of CAR.O.L.

‘Your legs quickly use up all their glycogen stores, depleting all the energy from your legs to get you moving as fast as possible.

‘Because your body is in flight mode, it urgently starts looking for glycogen from the rest of your body so that you can keep moving, quickly burning fat stores causing your blood sugar and your blood pressure to drop too.

‘You get a full cardio workout in the fraction of the time of any other kind of exercise regime.’

The website states that glycogen depletion workouts like these cause sugar to shift from elsewhere in your body back into your thighs, to be stored as glycogen and reused. Insulin is needed to drive this sugar into muscle, and your muscles need to be sensitized to insulin to speed up this process.

‘After just four to eight weeks of workouts with CAR.O.L three times a week, your body’s insulin sensitivity will increase by 25-28%,’ reads the site.

‘If your muscles become more sensitive to insulin, you become better at burning fat for energy.’

We gave the sprints a try and the ‘fat burner’ session (Pictures: Metro.co.uk)

What’s the verdict?

The idea of freeing up more time in our weekly schedules is obviously incredibly appealing.

And, from our experience of trying the mini sprints, we can imagine that the science is sound because it was surprisingly hard work. But having only had the one session, we would need to try it consistently to see if we actually get the results.

It’s incredibly convenient to be able to hop on in your normal clothes and hit your recommended fitness target in no time at all. No more lugging a heavy, sweaty gym bag to the office every day.

But, there is a niggling worry that this may be taking the concept of HIIT slightly too far.

For many of us, fitness is about so much more than physical or aesthetic results – it’s about mindfulness, reducing stress and stepping away from our hectic schedules.

If you relish your time in the gym – away from your phone and your emails and your social media – the idea of shaving that time down to next to nothing might not be what you want.

The good news though, is that the bike does have different settings – not just the 40-second MIIT workout. We also tried the ‘fat burn’ session which takes 10 minutes. It’s 30 sprints (eight seconds, with 12 seconds of recovery between), and this one will definitely get you sweating.

And of course, there’s the price, which is on the steep side. But this is Harvey Nichols after all, what did you expect?

One ‘intense’ or ‘energiser’ session costs £24. A ‘fat burner’ session costs £36. A ‘fitness test’ costs £55. The eight-week programme will set you back £1230.

If you have space at home, you can buy your own bike for £2,995, with an additional cost of £12 per month for the software.

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