A Four-Minute Workout!

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By Kurt Boyd

Are you spending a lot of time at the gym but not seeing the results you want?  Maybe you want to get in better shape but can’t find time to go to a gym?  What if you could get great results by working out only 4 minutes each day, 4-5 days week?  And what if you could do all the exercises at home without buying any equipment?  You can.  This article will teach you how.

Tabata Interval Training

Tabata interval training is a highly effective training protocol designed to produce exceptional results in a very short period of time.  Ifact, in just 4 minutes, you can get a rigorous strengthening workout that will improve your fitness performance, build muscle, and burn fat.

Tabata interval training is very simple.  Perform 20 seconds of maximum intensity calisthenics exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest. Complete 8 sets of exercise and rest over the course of 4 minutes.  These 4 minutes are of course challenging and intense, but can yield better results than many longer duration workouts.

The Science

In his ground-breaking study, Dr. Izumi Tabata had two groups of athletes perform one of two exercise regimes for 6 weeks, and then compared the results.  The first group exercised for 60 minutes, 5 days per week at an intermediate intensity.  The second group exercised in the short but very intense intervals I described (8 rounds of 20 seconds of exercise, followed by 10 seconds of rest, for a total of 4 minutes).  After the 6-week study period, Dr. Tabata found:

  • Group 1 improved their aerobic capacity by 9.5% but realized no improvement in anaerobic capacity
  • Group 2 (the high-intensity trained group) improved their aerobic capacity by 14% and their anaerobic capacity by 28%

Later, a 2007 study in the Journal of Applied Physiology found high intensity interval training (HIIT) increased fat burning capacity in women after only 7 sessions over a 2 week period. In 2009, another study found that men performing HIIT doubled their metabolic rate and increased glucose and fatty acid oxidation (burned fat) for three hours after exercising.

In 2013, Dr. Michele Olson found that a 4-minute Tabata routine of jump squats burned 13.5 calories per minute, (5 times the calories burned in the average cardio workout) and doubled the subjects’ metabolic rate for 30 minutes after the workout ended.

Exercises In Tabata Interval Training

A variety of exercises can be performed, but they must be compound movements that activate a lot of muscle mass.  So think squats, not calf raises.  Bodyweight exercises like squats, sit-ups, and push-ups can be done as well as full body movements like burpees, sprints, and jumping jacks.  You can also use weighted movements like deadlifts or power cleans.  And you can mix and match exercises depending on your fitness goals.

In all cases, please be sure to check with your doctor before attempting Tabata interval training.  Remember to start at your own pace and increase the intensity as you are able.

Performing a Tabata Interval Workout

> Step 1: Plan exercises

Determine the exercises you will perform.  No equipment or gym membership?  No problem.  Bodyweight exercises are perfect for Tabata interval training.  Go to http://strength.stack52.com/periodic-table-of-bodyweight-exercises/ for a periodic table of bodyweight exercises complete with instructional videos on how to correctly perform each exercise.  They are arranged by difficulty, so you can pick exercises that fit your fitness level.  You also can use Strength Stack 52 bodyweight exercise cards.  Simply shuffle the deck and deal yourself 8 cards.

> Step 2: Get a timer

Have a clock or stopwatch handy.  Better yet, if you have smartphone or computer go to http://www.tabatatimer.com/ for a Tabata timer with voice commands that tell you when to start, stop, and rest between intervals.

> Step 3: Warm up

Start with some dynamic stretching and then perform full body movements (jogging, rowing, etc.) that increase your body temperature until you achieve a light sweat.

As you warm up, get fired up and mentally prepare for an intense 4 minutes.  Remember, a 4 minute workout is more fun than a 60 minute workout, and it’s more effective too!

> Step 4: Workout

Set your timer, get in position for the first exercise, and wait for the beginning bell to ring.  Without sacrificing technique, get as many reps as possible for each exercise in 20 seconds.  So if you’re doing squats, try to get as many squats as possible using good technique before the 20 second timer is up.

When the timer rings, stop the exercise, breathe deeply, and get in position for the next exercise.  Repeat this for all 8 intervals at the highest intensity you can manage.

> Step 5: Cool down

Yes, you just finished an awesome workout, and it only took 4 minutes!  You will be thoroughly exhausted.  Breathe deeply and walk briskly until your heart rate and breathing returns to normal.  Finish by lightly stretching your muscles.

The Stack 52 4-Minute Workout

Ready to get started right away?  Try the Stack 52 4-Minute Tabata Workout.  First watch the video of each exercise and practice a few reps to make sure you know how to perform the exercise.  This will help you warm up to a light sweat.  Then get your Tabata timer ready and go for it!

Round 1: 20 Seconds of Jack Squats

10 Seconds of Rest

Round 2: 20 Seconds of Push-Ups

10 Seconds of Rest

Round 3: 20 Seconds of Mason Twists

10 Seconds of Rest

Round 4: 20 Seconds of Burpees

10 Seconds of Rest

Round 5: 20 Seconds of Tricep Dip

10 Seconds of Rest

Round 6: 20 Seconds Vertical Crunches

10 Seconds of Rest

Round 7: 20 Seconds of Clock Lunges

10 Seconds of Rest

Round 8: 20 Seconds of Mountain Climber

10 Seconds of Rest

Give It A Try!

Not only can you get a great workout in 4 minutes, you may get results faster than doing 60 minutes of cardio at the gym.  Tabata interval training is wonderfully challenging and extremely effective.

After a few weeks, you will notice your overall fitness has dramatically increased, and you have burned a lot of fat.  I worked out for 10 years at gyms, and I never had 6-pack abs until I started doing Tabata interval training.  If you play sports, you will notice that you can play with much more intensity for longer periods without getting winded.  You will run circles around your friends who will think you’re some kind of freak who doesn’t get tired.

You can become extremely fit and love the way you look working out for just 4 minutes a day, 5 days a week.  That’s only 20 minutes a week!  You can do this, and if you use bodyweight exercises, you can do it anywhere without equipment!

This article was written by Kurt Boyd, fitness fanatic, and director of Strength Stack 52, a unique way to transform bodyweight exercises into fun, intensive workouts that can be performed anywhere.

 

References

Gibala M. et. al.  Brief intense interval exercise activates AMPK and p38 MAPK signaling and increases the expression of PGC-1α in human skeletal muscle. Journal of Applied Physiology Mar 2009, 106 (3) 929-934

Olsen, M. O. Tabata Interval Exercise: Energy Expenditure and Post-Exercise Responses

Scharff-Olson Kinesiology Lab, Auburn University Montgomery, Montgomery, AL

Tabata I. et. al.  Effects of moderate-intensity endurance and high-intensity intermittent training on anaerobic capacity and VO2max.  Med Sci Sports Exerc. (1996) 28(10):1327-30.

Talanian J. et. al. Two weeks of high-intensity aerobic interval training increases the capacity for fat oxidation during exercise in women. Journal of Applied Physiology Apr 2007, 102 (4) 1439-1447

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