In today's world, it's all about the quick fix, and athletes are no different. We're all looking for the most efficient way to get in a quality workout so we can get on with the rest of our day.
The question is, is it really possible to get an effective workout done in a short amount of time, like four minutes?
The answer might be yes, if you're doing Tabata intervals. These high-intensity workouts will leave you wondering what exactly you signed up for. Created by Dr. Izumi Tabata, these workouts will give you a new found respect for interval training and show you exactly why shorter doesn't always equate to easier.
More: What is Tabata Training?
The All-Out Workout
The formula for a Tabata workout is simple: 20 seconds of all-out effort, followed by 10 seconds of rest. Again, just because it sounds simple and short, don't make the mistake of thinking that it's easier. These efforts will require max effort.
The intent of this routine is to pack as many repetitions as possible into 6 to 8 sets of 20-second work periods. As a result, when the sixth effort rolls around, your muscles will be filled with lactic acid, making a simple exercise like lunges more difficult that you could've imagined.
This difficulty is by design. In Tabata workouts, you never have a full recovery between sets. Your heart rate should be at or near the max and you should be out of breath by the end of a four-minute session.
Set to Sweat
It's best to think of a Tabata protocol as a guideline for creating a high-intensity interval workout. There's no one specific workout or plan that's best. You can use almost any exercise as long as you adhere to the 20/10 work to rest ratio. This will allow you to keep your workouts fresh and interesting, as you can always change your exercises in order to try something new.
All you need to get started is a stopwatch or timer and a lot of willpower. If you're new to high-intensity training, one bout of Tabata intervals should be plenty. But because these efforts are so hard, make sure to complete a dynamic warm-up before you begin.
All the Right Moves
Build your own Tabata workout by selecting one or two exercises per circuit. You can complete six rounds using only one exercise or you can alternate between two exercises if you choose. There's no need for any equipment other than your timer. Using only your bodyweight for most of the exercises will get the job done, especially if you're a beginner. When you're ready to add weight to the workout, you'll have more than a few options. Some examples are included below.