No Time to Workout? The Magic of Tabata

by admin


“I’m too busy to exercise”

… not if Tabata has anything to say about it!

Tabata is a high-intensity, interval training regimen that can produce remarkable results.  It only takes 4 minutes to do, and it’s incredibly effective!  You will be amazed at how intense the four minutes of exercise will feel.

  • Uses any type of exercise
  • Takes only 4 minutes
  • Engages both aerobic and anaerobic energy systems
  • Builds strength and endurance
  • You can do it anywhere!

Here is How it Works:

  • A Tabata workout is an interval training cycle of 20 seconds of maximum intensity exercise, followed by 10 seconds of rest.
  • The intervals are repeated 8 times without pause, so the total time of the Tabata workout is only four minutes.
  • To be clear, this isn’t “eight sets of eight,” although the goal of doing eight reps in each of the 20-second clusters is pretty good.  Instead it’s “as many reps as I can get in” during the twenty seconds, followed by ten seconds rest.
  • IMPORTANT: This isn’t a “four minute workout” – it’s meant to be done when your fully warmed up and possibly even at the end of a workout.

In terms of making your progress measurable, you can keep score by counting how many lifts or movements or distance or whatever you do in each of the 20 second rounds.  You can either add up the total of all your work done or make the round with the smallest number your score.

Here’s a cool Tabata timer:
[to upload to your phone:]


Credit for this simple and powerful training method belongs to its namesake, Dr. Izumi Tabata, and a team of researchers from the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo, Japan.  Their groundbreaking 1996 study, published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports & Exercise provided documented evidence concerning the dramatic physiological benefits of high-intensity intermittent training.  After just 6 weeks of testing, Dr. Tabata noted a 28% increase in anaerobic capacity in his subjects, along with a 14% increase in their ability to consume oxygen (V02Max).  The conclusion was that just four minutes of Tabata interval training could do more to boost aerobic and anaerobic capacity than an hour of endurance exercise.

Although Dr. Tabata used a mechanically braked exercise cycle machine, you can apply this protocol to almost any exercise.  For example, a basic Tabata workout can be performed with pushups.  The greater the range of motion done for each exercise, the better, so make sure your arms are locked out fully at the top and that your chest touches the ground at the bottom.  Perform pushups non-stop for 20-second intervals, followed by 10 seconds of rest.  Repeat for a total of 8 cycles.

Tabata Suggestions: 

  • Push-ups
  • Sit-ups
  • Running (sprint)
  • Swimming (sprint)
  • Rowing
  • Squats
  • Jump rope
  • Mountain Climbers
  • Pull-ups
  • Thrusters
  • Burpees
  • Lunges

Got it?  Now get moving!

Further reading and references:

Chronic Cardio Vs Short Interval High Intensity Exercise
Short Interval High Intensity Workouts Burn More Calories
Best Way to Improve Your Body Composition

Zieman E, et al. Aerobic and anaerobic changes with high-intensity interval training in active college-aged men. J Strength Cond Res. 2011 Apr;25(4):1104-12.

Laursen PB, Jenkins DG  The scientific basis for high-intensity interval training: optimising training programmes and maximising performance in highly trained endurance athletes. Sports Med. 2002;32(1):53-73.



Gearing Up for Wellness

by MJ

If I told you there was an activity that would…
a) get your heart rate up,
b) get you “sweating and panting,”
c) was not only free, but SAVED you money, and
d) was super fun

…you’d think it was too good to be true, right?!

Well guess what folks… all it takes is hopping on your BICYCLE!

It helps that I live in a mild-weathered, bike friendly town, but I literally bike everywhere I need/want to go. For groceries, to yoga class, downtown for fun events, and to coffee shops to write brilliant articles like this one!

It feels great to sling everything I need onto my back and head out for the day. Not only are you getting your movement in covertly, but it saves a ton of money on gas if you can get into a consistent routine.

Granted, some days/nights, its harder to summon the motivation to bike when the car is sitting warm and pretty in the driveway, but I absolutely NEVER regret the decision to saddle up.

Enjoy the road from a new perspective today/this week! And always be sure to have your bike lights, helmets, and warm layers at the ready. Happy cycling!

Active Recovery

by admin

Active recovery – low-intensity exercise during periods of rest between moderate to intense workouts – a small number of research findings say it positively provides benefit while a small amount of research says it is not yet possible to conclude whether or not there is significant benefit.  While it is clear that research is still growing, there are studies that have pointed to positive effects of including active recovery in training cycles. More

Kettlebell Swing Alternating One Hand

by admin

  • Start with the kettlebell on the ground, centered between your feet.
  • With both hands, deadlift the kettlebell up to a full standing position
  • Switch to grasp the kettlebell with one hand.
  • Assume a deadlift stance with your weight in your heels, , butt back and chest open.
  • Swing the kettlebell back between your legs slightly.
  • Begin to bring swing the kettlebell forward, and explosively extend your knees and hips, simultaneously.
  • Let the momentum from your hips swing the kettlebell to approximately eye level.
  • Let gravity pull the kettlebell back down to swing back between your legs and repeat.
  • Alternate hands as appropriate. You can switch in mid air as shown in the video, or you can lower the kettlebell to the ground and begin again with the other arm.

Deadhang Pullup

by admin

Explore local parks and schools to see if you can find a jungle gym to use.  You can also buy home kits that can be placed in a doorway.

  • Grasp the pull up bar overhead with an overhand grip just outside your shoulders.
  • Engage your shoulders by tightening your shoulder girdle to avoid stress on your joints.
  • From a hanging position pull your body upwards with your arms until your chin clears the top of the bar.
  •  Lower your body until your arms reach full extension and repeat.

Front Squat From Rack

by admin

If you don’t have a barbell or a rack, you can scale this movement by using anything from a broomstick to a backpack.

  • Start with a barbell in the rack position
  •  Keep your gaze forwards
  •  Lower your body into a squat focusing on maintaining a tall chest and elbows pointed upwards throughout the movement

How Much Exercise?

by admin

Critical Thinking:  When humans were living a natural, outdoor-oriented lifestyle, the daily work and tasks created movement that encompassed the whole body through full ranges of motion throughout much of the day.  Therefore, I need to recreate that type of fitness though a specific and focused exercise regimen called innate functional training.

Best Practices:  30-60 minutes every day of moving, panting and sweating (outside of bed).

Vital Behaviors:  Map out, strategically plan out a systematic plan for intensive, comprehensive workouts at a gym, CrossFit facility, your back yard, garage, spare bedroom, abandoned house next door, etc.

Level 1:  Haven’t been exercising lately, or consistently out of shape, overweight, fearful of injury (or maybe recovering from an illness or injury) and/or social stigmatism, unsure of how to begin, where to begin, etc.?

• Walk around the block once a day for a week, then twice around the block, then twice around the block for time (meaning quicker than the previous session).
• Do standing wall push-ups and free-standing squatting motions (watch Coaching Video – hyperlink).
• Find hills and/or stairs – walk them, then increase the repetitions; skip stairs; then do them faster, then do them for time, do them more often.
• Move to Level 2

Level 2:  Reasonably fit, not overweight, but only works out 2-4 days each week.

• Figure out/create within your schedule time so that you will exercise every day.  This could mean joining some type of health club facility or gym – they’ve changed a lot so don’t be intimidated.  Maybe you’ve always wanted to start cycling – go buy that bike; however, if you live where it isn’t practical or feasible to ride December – April, then cycling becomes Plan B – Plan A is to figure out how and where you can exercise every day (you could get a “trainer” which you use indoors and mount your bike for indoor cyling).
• After you’ve established a daily exercise routine, turn up the intensity by doing one or more of the following:

• Start timing yourself in your exercise routines;
• Increase the weights, speeds, inclines (i.e. hills, treadmill), etc. – up the intensity.

• Get coaching.  This could mean simply taking a class – aerobics, kickboxing, yoga, masters swim, etc.  You’ll do twice the work in the same amount of time which means you can halve your workout time or simply do more.  Or, you could sign up for a series of personal training sessions to expand your exercise routine, increase your knowledge, or improve your technique to allow for increased intensity without risk of injury.

• Start working out with a buddy or a group of people (for example, in a class at your local gym, health club, community center, or at a CrossFit gym – you’ll do more, faster, and you’ll have more fun, and you’ll be held accountable).

Level 3:  Congratulations, you’re in an elite group on the planet – you’re fit!  So now what?

Get more fit.
• It may be time to find a CrossFit type of facility.  Watch YouTube videos of kettle bell workouts, CrossFit workouts, etc. to get inspired, to learn new, inspiring ways to get in even better shape.  Buy equipment for home use for the days you don’t or can’t make it to the gym.

• Get more efficient at getting fit.  Simply changing your workout routine can often produce new levels of intensity – i.e. the days you do certain things, the sequence in which you do things.  Do the same workout in 5%, 10% or 20% less time.

• Commit to an objective/goal:  an competitive event or certification.  This could mean signing up for a 10K race or a triathlon, or signing up for some type of certification (i.e. CrossFit or personal trainer certification), scheduling to attend a fitness camp. When a fitness objective or goal is on your future schedule/radar/calendar, you’ll be amazed at how it will help focus your workouts and keep you more consistent in your workout schedule.