Tangled up in Tabata

Don’t look to me to tell you how to manage your time. We all want to watch TV, play on the computer, read a book, flip through a magazine, whatever . . . but most of us also want to knock off some of the extra fat we’re carrying around. Most of us want to look good. Many of us even want to feel good. But few of us have the time to do it all . . . or do we?

What if I told you that you didn’t have to go spend over an hour at the gym, stepping step after long boring step on the treadmill to lose that extra holiday weight? What if I told you that the body you want doesn’t need a part time job as a cardio-enthusiast to make your health & fitness payday lucrative? What if I told you that you can still watch TV, read books, flip through magazines . . . do all the things that seem important, and burn that fat that frustrates you?

Yes, the answer is still exercise. No, you don’t have to spend hours each day trudging through some boring workout routine. Many of us have heard about the benefits of interval training, but we may not know exactly what that means or how to apply it.

It seems that what many of us lack when it comes to exercise is not time, but intensity. With the right intensity we can make better use of the time we do have and burn off the fat we don’t want. We still need to dedicate time out of our schedules to exercise and the pursuit of happier, healthier bodies, just not as much time as we’ve been misled to believe.

tabata-training-intervals

A Japanese researcher named Izumi Tabata found that increasing the intensity during exercise increased both aerobic and anaerobic capacities. (Think of aerobic as cardio-style exercises, such as running, jump rope, etc, and anaerobic as weight lifting, or exercises that tax specific muscle groups rather than breathing capacity.) Rather than throwing yourself into the ring with the beast of intensity for several full rounds of a beating, he also found that a minimal 2:1 ratio was most beneficial for firing up the metabolism and inducing fat loss. This means an all out effort for 20 seconds, followed by a rest period of 10 seconds, repeated 8 times, produced maximum results.

That is 4 minutes of exercising. The only problem with this is that your brain’s response to this level of exercise will have you wanting more. Okay, well that isn’t really a problem, unless of course you go overboard and stomp into the realm of over-training, but again, what many of us have been led to believe as over-training is much further beyond our reach than we realize. You’re more likely to injure yourself than you are to actually over-train. (Yes, we’re getting into the realm of semantics here, but trust me, your body is capable of so much more than you currently realize.)

These 4 minutes of exercising alone probably won’t prepare you for that 5K or 10K or Obstacle Run you signed up to do, and it probably won’t get you in IFBB competition shape, but the real point of all this is that if you are looking to get off the couch and more comfortable in your body by Spring, you don’t need to invest much time to get started. Of course there comes a point when more exercise is going to get you better results, but to say that you have no time for exercise is simply a bad excuse for not wanting to have time . . .

Oh, maybe you’re wondering what to do with that 4 minutes? What should these intervals consist of for maximal metabolic return? Well, the happy answer is that any exercise or combinations of exercises will serve you pretty well. That means you can pick your favorites. Really though, and this is a happy answer too, but only because it is the one so many of us want the answer to, is that full body exercises, especially leg intensive exercises, will produce the best and fastest results. Burpees (which are pushups followed by explosive jumps), hill sprints, overhead squat thrusters are a few exercises that will enlist the much larger muscle groups of your legs and help burn more fat faster. Also, you can map out your 8 sets to do different exercises each interval to engage all your main muscle groups. Burpees, pullups, sprints, pushups, air squats, dead lifts, etc. mix and match for great results.

Time, time, time . . . now that you have more of it, what are you going to do with it?

Godspeed.

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