How to Burn Fat in 4 Minutes

Hmm, the title of this post sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? If you haven’t heard of Tabata, you’re going to want to read this. Tabata was developed by Dr. Izumi Tabata and a team of researchers from Japan’s National Institute of Fitness and Sports. Although it has traditionally been used with elite athletes, this workout is quickly gaining more popularity – especially with new mothers trying to lose baby weight.

What is Tabata?

Tabata is high-intensity interval training. You do an exercise, such as push-ups, at maximum intensity for 20 seconds, and then get a 10-second break. This is done 8 times for a total of 4 minutes. Sounds pretty easy, right? I did a fitness class last night that incorporated multiple Tabata intervals and I can tell you right now that it was INTENSE.  My entire body – particularly my shoulders and arms – is feeling it today. I remember one of the first times I tried a Tabata class the instructor described it as “working your body to complete exhaustion”. Sounds fun, eh??

How is it effective?

High-intensity workouts help burn fat. According to an article in the Globe and Mail, a very recent study found that participants that engaged in high-intensity interval training such as Tabata for 1.5 hours each week enjoyed the exact same physical benefits as participants that did 4.5 hours of endurance training on an exercise bike. Martin Gibala, chair of the kinesiology department at McMaster University, explains that Tabata training is highly effective because your body continues to burn calories during the recovery period.

This is why Tabata is quickly becoming popular – you can exercise for a small amount of time and still reap effective physical health benefits. The fact that a single interval only take 4 minutes to complete means that people can easily incorporate it into their busy schedules. Why not start your day with a couple of Tabata intervals? It literally only takes a few minutes!

How to get started

If you have never tried Tabata or are currently not very active, I strongly urge you to slowly ease into these workouts in order to avoid injury. Take time to warm-up first. It might even help to consult a personal trainer, as they can help ensure that you are demonstrating proper technique. If you do a Tabata interval that involves weights you may be at risk of injuring yourself by not executing the correct form.

Here is a sample Tabata workout I found:

Just a couple of notes:

  • Tabata is 20 seconds of maximum intensity. This instructor clearly isn’t giving it her all. However, her videos are primarily geared towards beginners, so if you are new to Tabata this might be a good place to start.
  • Sometimes people like to do multiple exercises within one Tabata interval, as is demonstrated in this video. For a longer workout, you could do 4 minutes for each individual exercise. This is typically how Tabata classes are structured. Sometimes I do a 40-minute Tabata class on Wednesday nights and WOW is it exhausting. Very effective though!

If you’re interested in incorporating Tabata intervals into your exercise routine and happen to have an iPhone, you can download the Tabata Timer app for free!

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