When it comes to improving your health and fitness, sometimes just showing up to the gym can seem like the hardest part. Committing yourself to a regular workout program is a big deal, after all, but life can get a little crazy sometimes. When priorities collide, getting to the gym can be tough. Fortunately, you don’t have to spend hours at the gym 7 days a week to get stronger, leaner, and healthier. On those super packed days full of meetings, after-school activities, and homework, even a well-spent 15 to 20 minutes can be highly effective.
But what to do during those 15 minutes? Try a Tabata workout. It’s quick, it’s intense, and it’s sure to give you a good sweat.
What is a Tabata Workout?
Tabata training was first created by a Japanese doctor named Dr. Izumi Tabata who at the time was working with a Japanese speed skating team. The basic philosophy of Tabata workouts–short bursts of highly intense physical exertion followed by short periods of rest–it’s the basis of what’s known today as high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
The Tabata protocol is as follows: 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off, with this cycle, repeated at least 8 times. If you’re not great at math, that comes to a grand total of 4 minutes. Yup, just 4 minutes of intense, butt-kicking exercise. Now: are you sure you don’t have enough time for a workout today?
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Why are Tabata Workouts so Beneficial?
Experts, scientists, and health nuts agree that Tabata workouts are hugely effective for a variety of reasons:
- Improves the amount of lean body mass.
- Increases your stamina, endurance, and aerobic capacity (ability to consume and use oxygen).
- Over time, promotes increased fat loss by increasing your resting metabolic rate.
- Tabata workouts can also be an inspiring way to mix up your routine and keep you from getting bored at the gym!
A 15-Minute Tabata Workout to Get Your Pump On–Quickly!
The next time you’re in a pinch for–well, time–give the following Tabata workout a try. You’ll want a clock or watch to track the time, and probably a piece of paper or whiteboard to keep track of your rounds.
First, the Movements (There’s 4 of them):
1) Russian Twists Sit-Ups With a Medicine Ball:
Sit on the floor holding a medicine ball in your hands. Lean back slightly, bend your knees and lift your feet off the ground. Keeping your legs together, tighten your abs and twist your body, bringing the medicine ball toward one side of your trunk and then the other.
2) Dumbbell Thrusters:
In a standing position with your feet shoulder-width apart, hold a pair of dumbbells at your shoulders with your elbows pointing forward and slightly down. Squat. As you come up, extend your arms up, pushing the dumbbells straight up over your shoulders. Return the dumbbells to your shoulders before you perform the next rep.
3) Mountain Climbers:
Start in the top of a push-up position. First, step your right foot up next to your right hand. Then, jump and switch your feet, moving your left foot up next to your left hand. Keep alternating.
Start in a standing position, drop down to the floor, jump up, and clap over your head.
When the clock hits go, perform as many Russian twist sit-ups as you can in the first 20 seconds. Rest for 10 seconds, then do as many dumbbell thrusters as you can in 20 seconds. Rest for 10 seconds. Do as many mountain climbers as you can in 20 seconds, then rest 10 seconds. Finally, perform as many burpees as you can in 20 seconds, rest 10 seconds—then repeat this cycle 4 times.
And that’s it! 15 minutes (well, technically 16 minutes) of super intense exercise. Drink some water, eat some protein, take a shower, and then go about your day! The best thing about Tabata: you can try it with almost anything. Rowing, wall balls, squats, push-ups, pull-ups, box jumps…the choices are endless.