4 Minute Fitness – Tabata

What if I told you, all it takes is 4 minutes a day to change your life?  Would you believe me?  Well guess what, it’s true.  Meet tabata.  It’s about to change your life.  Tabata is an ever-popular exercise strategy proven to increase aerobic and anaerobic capacity, VO2 max, and resting metabolic rate (aka increased fat burning).  4 minutes a day (or one “tabata”) can get you better fitness results than an hour of running on the treadmill!  How cool is that?

Tabata was developed by Japanese professor Dr. Izumi Tabata to train Olympic speed skaters.  Tabata consists of short, 20 second high-intensity intervals followed by 10 seconds of rest.  Repeat this pattern 7 more times for a total of 8 sets in 4 minutes.  You can do the same exercise for all 4 minutes or you can switch it up during each interval – it is entirely up to you.

The hardest method (yet best results) is focusing all 4 minutes on one exercise (e.g., pushups) followed by one minute of rest and then onto another body group (e.g., squats).  This pattern of alternating body groups can be repeated for as long as your body can last.

What makes tabata unique is its flexibility and customization.  You can do any high intensity exercise your heart desires.  Just remember, in order for it to work you need to put in 110%.  4 minutes sounds easy, but I promise you they will be the longest 4 minutes of your life.  During those 20 seconds of work you need to push it to the limit.  Crank up the volume on your playlist and get your head in the game because it will not be easy.  This exercise takes extreme dedication and commitment, but if you can commit to 4 minutes a day then you will see results!

Is tabata right for you?  Tabata is perfect for a highly focused, goal-oriented individual.  I think tabata works best when you have a partner so you can push each other during the 20 second intervals.  If tabata seems a little too challenging for you at this moment, that is perfectly okay.  Try checking out the 30 Day Fitness Challenge instead!  The goal is to find what works best for YOU.

Tabata Workout

  • Stretch first!  Complete a series of light stretches.  Consider big arm circles (forward and backward), arm stretches over your head (like you’re yawning in the morning), toe touches (or as best as you can), lunges, squats, hands on your knees and booty dances, and whatever else you can think of.  Just make sure you stretch!  Also, complete a few reps of each movement in order to warm up those specific muscles (e.g., do a few pushups, sit ups, etc.).
  • Log onto tabatatimer.com or access your phone’s stopwatch (which can be found where the alarm clock is located).
  • Suggested routine:
    • 20 seconds – jumping jacks  //  10 seconds – break
    • 20 seconds – sit ups  //  10 seconds – break
    • 20 seconds – squats  //  10 seconds – break
    • 20 seconds – pushups  //  10 seconds – break
    • 20 seconds – jumping jacks  //  10 seconds – break
    • 20 seconds – sit ups  //  10 seconds – break
    • 20 seconds – squats  //  10 seconds – break
    • 20 seconds – pushups  //  10 seconds – break
  • For a more advanced tabata routine, consider the following exercises: jumping jacks, high knees, burpees, mountain climbers, good mornings, sprints, sit ups, v ups, planks, russian twists, supermans, pushups, hand release pushups, squats, jumping squats, sumo squats, lunges, lunge jumps, broad jumps, tuck jumps, etc.

Did you know that you can break up your exercise routine into chunks throughout the day? Start your day with 5 minutes of stretching followed by a 1 minute break and a 4 minute tabata routine (10 minutes total).  At work, take two 5 minute walk breaks around the office (another 10 minutes).  Later in the evening, make a call to a friend or family member and while you are strengthening that relationship, strengthen your own by going for a walk.  Walk outside or walk in circles around your house…either way, just get moving (another 10+ minutes).  There you have it!  A 30 minute workout made easy!

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