A 30- to 60-minute workout is often difficult when time is of the essence. In those days, a Tabata-style workout might be the answer. Tabata is a type of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) that can be done in just four minutes. In fact, research shows that this form of HIIT may actually increase aerobic capacity more effectively than running three 30-minute sessions on a treadmill.
The researchers divided 55 healthy young male participants into three separate training groups for a 16-week exercise program:
- HIIT-T (High Intensity Interval Training on a Treadmill): 17 participants performed the Tabata protocol on a treadmill. They ran for 20 seconds at a pace related to 130% VO2max, then rested for 10 seconds, and repeated this pattern eight cycles for a total of four minutes.
- HIIT-WB (High-Intensity Interval Training for Whole Body Exercise): 19 participants performed Tabata interval training using bodyweight exercises including burpees, climbers, jacks, and squat thrusts using 3kg kettlebells.
- MICT (Moderate Intensity Continuous Training): 19 participants ran on a treadmill for 30 minutes at an intensity related to 90% of their second ventilatory threshold (VT2) heart rate, which was associated with an increase in breathing rate and exercise that could not comfortably say.
For the warm-up for each workout, the HITT-T group performed a 4-minute warm-up on the treadmill, the HIIT-WB group used the same bodyweight exercise but moved at a much slower pace for 4 minutes, and the MICT group gradually accelerated Running rhythm.
At the end of the 16-week training regimen, each set had improved fitness levels as measured by time to VT2 and time to failure. The HIIT-T group showed better results than the HIIT-WB or MICT groups, supporting the idea that HIIT is a time-saving exercise solution. That’s good news for those days when time may be a factor and gym workouts aren’t feasible. In other words, when time is of the essence, a four-minute Tabata workout might be enough to maintain your current fitness level.
Here are two options for applying this research to your own Tabata-style protocol:
- At the health club, complete a 4-minute Tabata on a rowing machine that includes a 20-second sprint followed by a 10-second rest on the side rail. Repeat this pattern eight times. (A rowing machine is recommended because it involves the arms and legs working together and doesn’t put extra stress on the knees or back joints.)
- Use a bodyweight workout for the Tabata, which can be perfect for those days when your schedule doesn’t have time for a trip to the gym or a trip and is stuck in a hotel. The following circuit (as per the circuit design used in the study) is ideal. If you don’t have weights available, use skaters instead of squat thrusts (jump laterally from one foot to the other).
Squat thrust or skater
The entire workout will take about 12 minutes, as you should allow some time to warm up and relax while stretching the muscles involved. For the warm-up, follow the exercise regimen from the study above. Here are some general guidelines when doing bodyweight exercises:
- Keep your spine long. When your spine is extended, you use more of your glutes.Move from the hips. Whether you rotate forward or rotate, make sure the movement is coming from your hips, not your spine.
To increase activation of your core muscles, press your feet and hands firmly to the floor as they touch. Imagine you’re trying to push the floor away from you, which helps improve activation of your deep core muscles.
While it’s always good to have a long, stress-relieving workout, sometimes time is really a factor. For this reason, it’s good to know that the time-saving Tabata-style workout actually works and produces results.