This is the time of year when many of us are rushing around, trying to adjust to changing schedules, fall weather, and the daily demands of life. I hear often from my clients, “I just can’t get to the gym unless we have an appointment!” While that is a great reason to hire a personal trainer, it may not get you to your weight/fat loss goal as quickly as desired. Let’s face it. We want results, and we want them fast. Don’t let the demands of daily life get in the way of your fitness goals!
Whether you are looking to shed five, ten, twenty pounds or more, or you just want to stay fit and toned, Tabata training will put some pizzazz back into your workouts this season! Tabata training can be done after a class at the gym, with your trainer, or even at home before you jump in your morning shower.
It requires no equipment and will boost your level of fitness, getting you closer to your fat loss goals. And it takes only 4 minutes—literally!
What exactly is Tabata? Tabata is a form of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). In 1996, a landmark study showed that Tabata offers benefits similar to SSC (steady state cardio) exercise done 5 times per week for 30 minutes or more. By contrast, Tabata takes only 4 minutes and only needs to be done 4 times per week!
Now, do I recommend Tabata as your ONLY form of activity? Absolutely not. My experience, training, and practices are centered around current CDC recommendations for aerobic training and resistance workouts. You should strive for 150 minutes of cardiovascular activity per week and at least 2 days of strength training for all of your major muscle groups. That said, incorporating Tabata training into a hectic fall schedule can help you bust through a weight loss plateau and blast fat fast while improving your overall fitness level.
Let’s get started!
Tabata is a mode of cardiovascular conditioning that involves doing 20 seconds of “ultra-intense” activity followed by 10 seconds of rest. One example would be 20 seconds of running sprints followed by 10 seconds of rest. This is repeated for 8 cycles, for a total of 4 minutes. Even so, you must warm up, cool down, and stretch afterwards. So, from beginning to end, we are talking about 8-10 minutes, tops! In addition, Tabata training has morphed into a mode of fitness that can include strength training with weights, plyometrics, track or treadmill sprints, cycling, elliptical, jumping rope, or just about any kind of activity you enjoy. When I am really pressed for time, I incorporate two or three of these modes of fitness into my morning routine before my whey protein shake.
Here are some sample Tabata workouts for you to try!
First, march in place for a couple of minutes to get blood flow to the extremities, to warm muscles, and to get your body prepared for an intense work out. (If you would like to adapt this to a beginner or intermediate level of fitness, chose the less intense options I have outlined below.
- 20-30 jumping jacks (depending on speed) totaling about 20 seconds. Rest 10 seconds.
- Low impact version: alternating tap outs.
- Jump rope for 20 seconds. Rest 10 seconds.
- Beginners: skip side to side, no rope required.
- About 20 burpees (for 20 seconds). Rest 10 seconds. To perform a burpee, start from a standing position; put both hands on the floor underneath your shoulders, hop both legs out behind you simultaneously. Immediately hop both legs in toward your chest, and hop back up into the air to start position. Repeat 20 times before resting. Do not swing your back! Contract the core throughout each and every movement.
- Beginners: alternate the legs at a slower pace or do alternating knees from a standing position.
- 40 mountain climbers for 20 seconds. Follow with 10 seconds of rest. To perform mountain climbers, place both hands on the floor, underneath your shoulders. Try not to lock your elbows. Quickly alternate your knees toward your chest while contracting the abs and glutes. This is a great lower abdominal region isolation exercise!
- Beginners: go more slowly and pay extra attention to form! Do not arch your back.
- 15 push-ups on knees or feet. Follow with 5 clapping push-ups. Rest 10 seconds. When performing a push-up, your back should be straight and your core contracted. Exhale as you raise your body and do not lock out your elbows or tilt your hips toward the ceiling. Clapping push-ups are advanced and can be performed by quickly clapping the hands together at the top of the push-up, when you are straightening your arms.
- 20-40 bicycles, depending on speed, followed by rest for 10 seconds. Bicycles engage the upper and lower areas of your abdominals as well as the obliques (waistline area). Perform them properly by turning your elbow toward the side wall and pressing the opposite shoulder into the floor. Keep your legs low to the ground as you alternate for more lower abdominal engagement.
- Beginners: do a crunch and alternate side-to-side, with opposite elbow toward opposite knee.
- 20 wide leg squats, followed by 20 jump squats. Rest 10 seconds. Put your hands on your thighs to protect your lower back. Protrude your buttocks out over the floor behind you. Knees remain above ankles. Hinge at the hips, and contact your core.
- Beginners: with feet shoulder-width apart, squat down only a few inches, not perpendicularly at the knee. No jumping.
- 40 alternating walking lunges. Rest 20 seconds. This can also be done in place. Dig up through your front heel for more gluteal activation. Back straight, abs tight, add weights in each hand to advance this. Keep your knee behind your ankle at all times. Exhale on the elevation.
- Beginners: alternate hip extensions, standing or on all fours.
If you have the time, repeat 2-4 times. Cool down with marching in place 1-2 minutes—and don’t forget to stretch. Enjoy!