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Tabatas: The Four Minute Workout

Updated on February 5, 2018
sharonbellis profile image

Sharon is a certified Human Resources Manager with a passion for health topics, food, non-fiction books and writing

Tabatas only take 4 mins for a complete workout
Tabatas only take 4 mins for a complete workout | Source

What are Tabatas?

I belong to a fitness club that has no machines. All of our exercising is done using our own body weight. A new class was added to the schedule that was called "Tabatas" and this class, unlike most of the others, was only thirty minutes long!

This was highly unusual because the other classes were an intense 60 minutes. This facility they is known for their intense bootcamp style fitness classes but can you get an intense workout in 30 minutes?

Why is this class so short? It's because Tabatas are high intensity interval training that can be done in four minutes. In just four minutes of intense training you can get a full body workout that improves your cardio, burns fat and builds muscle mass. Incredible isn't it?

The Tabata session is timed in twenty second intervals of intense exercise followed by ten seconds of rest. This is repeated for four minutes.

You can use the same exercise for each twenty second interval or alternate between two exercises or even do something different each time. The exercises can include, for example, jumping jacks, burpees, jump squats, pulls ups; pretty much any thing you wish to incorporate.

A basic tabata session would look like this:

20 seconds - jumping jacks

10 second rest

20 seconds - jumping jacks

10 seconds rest

and repeat for the full four minutes.

The "I have no time!" excuses are eliminated with this exercise because all you need is four minutes. This is the best exercise to burn fat. So I tried that class and it was intense! It is a great workout because you still felt like you had exercised for a full hour. The other aspect I liked about this session was that no matter how hard it became I knew it would be over quickly so this motivated me to keep up the intensity even when I felt like quitting. I just kept in mind that very shortly I would get that ten second rest.

Let's take a look at the history of this high intensity workout and how its benefits were discovered!

Tabata History

Tabatas were named after their creator. Dr. Izumi Tabata of Tokyo, Japan. Dr. Tabata started to study the effect of different exercise training protocols on athletes in the 1990s. After studying a number of different methods he noticed that one was producing consistent as well as extraordinary results.

The significant improvements that became evident included fat loss and increased cardio and strength conditioning. A triple threat!

The method became popular and was named "Tabata Intervals" or just "Tabatas" for short. Athletes that were trained using the tabata method consistently did better in competition.

Keep Active Just Do It!

Sample Video on Youtube: Try it Out!

Below is a sample demonstration of Tabatas. They are simple enough to do in your own home with no additional equipment needed. I have done a quick sessions at home when life gets in the way and prevents me from getting to the gym.

You really have no excuse here since Tabatas take very little time yet they are very intense and you will get the full benefit of a workout that normally takes ten times longer.


Moving is so Important!

Sitting Disease is Here

Regular exercise is the number one activity that will lengthen your life and keep you vital into your golden years. Ignoring this by living your life as a couch potato will steal the years away from you. People don't become feeble because they are old necessarily, they become feeble because they stop moving!

Today there is a lot of talk about "sitting disease" and it is being compared to smoking! Imagine that sitting around the house can be as detrimental to your health as inhaling toxic chemicals. It isn't just sitting around during our leisure time either. In this the information age people are sitting at desk jobs more than ever and it is just not good for you. We were not made to sit for so long.

Humans were made to walk and run. We must remember that we are hunter/gatherers and we also had to run from potential predators. A lot has changed since those days but our biology has changed little. It is highly recommended, particularly if you sit at a desk all day, to get up and walk around at least once every hour and even more often if your job allows.

Count your steps!

A great idea is to strap on a pedometer and try to get to 10,000 steps each day at a minimum. You will be surprised how little you are walking when you first wear one of these gadgets. I know I was very surprised. I considered myself an active personal but when I wasn't in the gym I was barely getting 5,000 steps in per day. That is only half the recommendation. When you stop and think about your routine you spend so much time driving, sitting at a desk, then flopped on the couch after a hard day at work. That's not a lot of steps.

High Intensity Interval Training - Resources Online

There are plenty of resources on-line for this type of exercise. It has become a very popular method of getting in quick workout and this is particularly important in this fast paced world we live in.

Time is at a premium but in order to extent your time on this earth you cannot afford to ignore the need for exercise. These links will provide you with everything you need to know to get started with Tabatas.

Did you ever think you could get a workout in so little time?

See results

Dr. Oz likes Tabatas!

There was a recent demonstration of Tabatas on an episode of Dr. Oz. Even Dr. Oz found it hard to believe you could get such a great workout in four minutes and so he gave it a try. He then proceeded to do an entire Tabata workout on the show.

I have to admit I was impressed that Dr. Oz kept up with the trainer. Tabatas are very intense and you think because of the short time that you really are not going to be challenged, however, this is definitely not the case. Give it a try and you will see the secret is in the short recovery periods remember you have to keep them limited to ten second rests no cheating!

Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

© 2012 Sharon Bellissimo

Tabatas - Will You Try This Exercise Method?

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    • Michelllle profile image

      Michelllle 5 years ago

      I use these in spin classes. Love it.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      Love the idea it's so quick.

    • RedHairedRockHead profile image

      RedHairedRockHead 5 years ago

      This is something anyone an do at some level...I like it!

    • techmom profile image

      techmom 5 years ago

      This sounds very interesting - with four kids, four minutes is sometimes all I can manage!

    • Pam Irie profile image

      Pam Irie 5 years ago from Land of Aloha

      Four minutes sounds manageable!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Some days 4 minutes is all I can do :)

    • JackNorbridge profile image

      JackNorbridge 5 years ago

      I do the Peak 8 interval training. It's 30 seconds of hard training followed by 90 seconds of rest. I will give the Tabata intervals a try!

    • fatlossforflatabs profile image

      fatlossforflatabs 5 years ago

      I love Tabata heavy rope workouts. Deceivingly tough.

      Dr Sean

    • cutethings profile image

      cutethings 5 years ago

      I haven't tried tabatas yet, but it sounds interesting.

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