>The 4-Minute Workout

>Used by Olympic coaches to train speed skaters, The Tabata Method is the ultimate in working out on-the-go.

In just four minutes a day, many busy, single moms are discovering the benefits of the Tabata Method for its quick and effective way of staying in shape. It is wicked for fat loss, conditioning, sports performance and overall strength and is by far the fastest way to get fit and lose weight. Sound too good to be true? Read on…

The Tabata training protocol is an effective method of training, originally developed for the Japan speed skating team by Izumi Tabata Ph.D., a former researcher at Japan’s National Institute of Fitness and Sports to improve on their acceleration. The Tabata workout consists of six to seven 20-second full-speed sprints interspersed with rest periods of 10 seconds equalling about four minutes of total work.

In Tabata’s study, the researchers found that skaters who used the routine five days a week for six weeks improved their maximum aerobic capacity (a measure of your body’s ability to consume oxygen) by 14%. Even more impressive is that the training also improved anaerobic capacity (which measures your ability to sprint and/or maintain a high pace for an extended period) by 28%.

So the Tabata Protocol is the rare workout that has both the benefits of endurance activity (better fatty acid mobilization and usage) and the benefits of anaerobic activity (metabolically active muscle hypertrophy and a continued calorie burn even post-workout). By comparison, a study of traditional aerobic training (running at 70% of aerobic capacity for 60 minutes) for the same number of weeks showed an improvement in aerobic capacity of only 9.5% and no effect on anaerobic capacity.

While this type of training is beneficial for everyone from elite athletes, busy parents and workaholics, it is also important to ease into it and work at your own pace. You do want to push yourself and go all out, but you also don’t want to try doing too much too soon. Make sure you warm up properly and concentrate on posture during the exercises.

Another benefit to this training style is that it can literally be performed anywhere, no gym required. It’s simple. Take an exercise and perform it in the following manner:

1.For twenty seconds at full intensity, do as many repetitions as possible.
2.Rest for ten seconds
3.Repeat seven more times with a variety of exercises for a total workout of four minutes!
Be sure to do a few warm-up sets and a light stretching type of cool down at the end and make sure that your exercise choice(s) are compound (multi-joint) movements.

Here are some sample exercises you can use to design your Tabata workouts that work equally well for busy single moms AND athletes:

Barbell/dumbbell exercises:
Clean and Presses

Bodyweight exercises:
Elbow walk-ups

You also can do this using equipment:
Jump rope
Pad or heavy bag work
Spin Bike
Jacob’s Ladder

Medical Science Sports Exercise. (1996). October 28 (10):1327-30

The 4-Minute Workout

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