Millions of people go to the gym week after week to do long,
boring aerobic exercises that deliver little or no improvement
in their physical condition. They spend up to an hour each night
simply pacing on a treadmill or leisurely pedaling away on a
stationary bike, yet they hardly break a sweat, and they rarely
If this sounds like you, it’s time for the “20-Minute Aerobics
Solution,” designed by Bill Phillips, author of the No. 1 New
York Times bestseller Body for Life.
Phillips recommends 20 minutes of aerobic exercise only three
times a week* rather than spending hour after hour, week after
week, doing long, unfocused aerobic workouts.The challenge of
the “20-Minute Aerobics Solution” is “to make each of those
workouts the most effective, fat-burning, health-enhancing 20
minutes you possibly can.” To do this, Phillips provides readers
with an intensity index.
The index starts at level one and goes up to level 10. Level
one intensity can be achieved while doing such activities as
sitting on the couch watching television, level two while standing,
level five while walking up stairs, and so on. Level 10 is the
highest point of intensity for the body. At this level, you
should be able to honestly answer “No!” if asked “Can you go
just a little bit harder?”
The intensity index is self-regulating, so levels differ for
each individual depending on the individual’s condition and
prior aerobic experience. As the body adapts to each workout,
the intensity index should evolve with it. This program assures
that an individual can never outgrow his or her own intensity
Phillips does not expect his readers to reach their high points
during every workout. However, the high point is always the
goal, making each and every workout a new challenge. Stationary
bikes, treadmills, outdoor runs, and even walks work fine for
Phillips suggests the following interval pattern to make aerobic
exercises more effective:
• Level five intensity for minutes one and two.
• Level six intensity for minute three.
• Level seven intensity for minute four.
• Level eight intensity for minute five.
• Level nine intensity for minute six.
Repeat this pattern three times to the end of minute 18. For
minute 19, try to reach an intensity level of 10. Finish the
workout at an intensity level of five for minute 20, and you
will have completed the “20-Minute Aerobics Solution.”
* Some personal trainers recommend a minimum of four aerobic
workouts each week rather than three. This workout pushes the
body to its limit, so three aerobic workouts per week may be
one body’s limit, while more than three workouts a week could
be the limit for others. One day of easy aerobic exercise could
fill in for the fourth day for each week.