TikToker’s Simple, Effective Hack for Running Faster Goes Viral

A TikToker has gone viral with his simple fitness hack to run faster, and it actually works.

Hermes the Cynic, as he’s known on social media, classifies himself as an expert in both fitness and speed-running video games. He used this process to shave four minutes off of his physical fitness test while training to become a firefighter in California.

“My original time was 11 minutes,” Hermes said. “After doing this for two weeks, it dropped to seven.” He says the trick isn’t to worry about getting good at running right off the bat. “The trick is to get your VO2 max crazy in shape.”

VO2 max is defined as “the maximum rate of oxygen consumption attainable during physical exertion.” Or, as Hermes puts it, “Literally just your body’s ability to shove oxygen around and prevent you from getting tired.”

He explains that increasing your VO2 endurance is the wisest first step. “That’s your cardiovascular endurance, and when your cardiovascular endurance is top tier, your muscle endurance increases as well.” That's because the amount of oxygen you’re taking in prevents you from getting fatigued as quickly.

Hermes' advice for how to do this has since gone viral, and it's based on tried and true techniques. As he explains, you can increase your VO2 max by finding a kettlebell swing ladder with which you can comfortably execute 20 reps. After one rep, put the weight on the ground and take a single breath through your nose. Then pick the weight back up, do two more reps, set it down again, and take two breaths. Keep repeating this until you’ve reached 20 reps.

Related: How to Improve VO2 Max: The Only 2 Workouts You Need

“You breathe while you’re doing the swings! Don’t hold your breath while exercising” Hermes vehemently stressed. “Your breath time is just your rest time,” he explained. “This increases VO2 max” exponentially, according to Hermes.

When you first do this, even 20 breaths is gonna feel like it’s not enough. But if you do this every day, or every other day, you want to reduce the amount of breaths you take. So you drop it down to 10 breaths max even when you do 20 swings, you drop it down to 5 breaths, you drop it down to 3.

“Then when you’re at that level, you go for a run,” Hermes instructs his followers. “You'll quickly realize running is really, really easy all of the sudden, and you can just run and run. Your lungs and heart aren’t a limiting factor anymore. It’s just gonna be completely tied to muscular endurance, which you can now push even further because your VO2 max is so much higher.”

Though it’s just now going viral, the process of increasing your VO2 max with 20 kettlebell reps has been around for some time and has proven both safe and effective. A July 2015 study, entitled Effects of Kettlebell Training on Aerobic Capacity and published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, found that “20 [minutes] of kettlebell snatching with 15 [second] work and rest intervals…significantly increased VO2 max.”