Four Minutes to Fit?

  • I don’t have time to workout 30 to 60 minutes a day.
  • I hate the treadmill – I feel like I’m going nowhere.
  • I workout but don’t see any results.
  • Exercise is boring.
  • I’m a busy mom – when am I supposed to fit it in?

Do any of these sound like you? What if someone told you that you didn’t have to hop on the treadmill, elliptical, or bike for 30, 45, or 60 minutes to see results? What if you were told that you could get fit in just 4 minutes?

The Tabata Protocol is a super-interval workout named after researcher Dr. Izumi Tabata of the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Kanoya, Japan. In 1996, he conducted a study, using elite athletes, comparing their improvement in aerobic and anaerobic fitness levels when performing the traditional moderate-intensity exercise versus his ultra-high-intensity protocol.

What he found was astounding. After 6 weeks of training, the athletes did improve their aerobic fitness level, but not their anaerobic fitness. After 6 weeks following  the Tabata method, the athletes increased their aerobic fitness by 14% and their anaerobic fitness by 28%. What this means is that an athlete can do as much in four minutes as they can do in an hour!

How to do it

The Tabata protocol goes as follows:

  • warm up for 3-5 minutes
  • 20 seconds of maximum intensity exercise (pick one: treadmill, elliptical, bike, versa climber, squats, push-ups)
  • 10 seconds complete rest
  • repeat 7 more times for a total of 8 sets
  • Total time = 4 minutes

This is not a workout that should be performed on a daily basis. You can do this every other day. On the days in between, choose an activity like yoga, Pilates, spinning, hiking, rollerblading, or resistance training, so that you are providing your body with a complete training program.

Make sure to get medical clearance before starting any form of exercise.

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