July 5, 2013
Quickest Workout Ever

"I don't have time to exercise." Said almost everyone, at some point in their life. I mean, who can often give a whole hour of their day to get in a workout?

Have no fear, time-challenged-health-lovers; there is an answer to this excuse. That answer is a 4 minute workout.

"What?! You can't do a workout in 4 minutes!" you retort, "That is like baking 30 minute brownies in 20 minutes. Or doing 8 minute abs in 7 minutes. It can't be done!"

Yes it can, dear friends, and I will teach you how. Workouts do not always have to be 60 minutes in duration. You do not have to spend long hours at the gym in order to see results. It is true that a longer workout at a higher intensity will burn more calories and help you get significant results. But if you are in a jam and don't have much time, then all you need is 4 minutes.

To learn the secret of the 4 minute workout you only have to whisper one simple magic word: Tabata.

"Tabata's" are now a carte blanche term for any set of intervals performed at a :20/:10 work to rest ratio. That is, a 20 second sprint followed by 10 seconds of rest. Tabata is actually a person, and not just some exotic name for a training protocol. Izumi Tabata is a researcher and professor well known for his research in the area of high intensity exercise. In the mid 90's his colleagues and him, performed a study assessing two different training protocols and how they affected aerobic and anaerobic capacity. For six weeks, participants in this study exercised using one of the two following protocols:

Protocol 1: 5 days per week, exercising on a bike at 70% of their VO2 max (a measure of maximal aerobic capacity) for 60 minutes.

Protocol 2: 5 days per week, exercising on a bike at 170% of their VO2 max for 7-8 intervals with a :20/:10 work/rest ratio.

And what happened? Magic, that is what. The first group had great results: they increased their VO2 max (aerobic capacity) by 9%, but they did not see a significant increase in their anaerobic capacity. This was accepted because exercising at 70% of maximal intensity is far below a 100% effort. In this situation we would expect to see an increase in aerobic function but not anaerobic function. The second group, however, saw significant increases in BOTH anaerobic and aerobic capacity. They increased by 28% and 15%, respectively. It turns out that the maximal effort sprints taxed both the aerobic and anaerobic systems creating adaptations in both. If we look at the duration of the two protocols, the first group exercised for 300 minutes per week and saw menial increases in their performance, but the interval group exercised for 20 minutes per week and saw outstanding increases! That is only 4 minutes per day.

That is where you come in. If you don't have time for a full on 60 minute workout then settle for the 4 minute version instead. The formula is simple, just follow these steps:

Choose a full body exercise, such as: squat to presses, burpees, sprints, rows, etc.

Set a timer: 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest repeated 8 times.

Go: you must give a maximal effort. No lolly-gagging.

It should go without saying that you can burn more calories in an intense hour-long workout than in a 4 minute intense workout. However, should you find yourself in a time crunch, jump on those Tabata's! you can get a lot of work done in that amount of time.

Give it a shot, and let us know how they go.




Written by Clark Masterson

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