Tabata Training – A Workout For Those Who Are Too Busy To Exercise

“I don’t have time.” That’s one of the biggest reasons used for not working out. I get it. You have your 9 to 5 (which many people put in more time than scheduled). You have your family, your kids’ activities, your committee meetings, volunteer work and other necessary obligations. Who has time for working out?

You do. Thanks to Izumi Tabata, Tabata training is a form of cardiovascular exercise (aka cardio) that has been found to have incredibly effective and EFFICIENT results. Izumi and his colleagues conducted a study with two test groups using two different kinds of cardiovascular programs. Group one was working out 6 days a week for an hour each session at 70% intensity for 6 weeks. Group two was working out 4 days a week doing this “Tabata” method for 4 minutes at maximum exertion for 6 weeks. Both groups found benefits and increased cardiovascular endurance, but the second group saw a bigger increase and also saw benefits in their anaerobic abilities. Short workouts CAN be enough. All of us have 4 minutes somewhere in our schedule. No more excuses.

Here’s how it works. You perform an exercise at maximum energy level for 20 seconds and follow it up with a 10 second rest. Repeat this 8 times for a total of 4 minutes (A warm up and cool-down is recommended). Examples of these exercises are sprints, jump squats, burpees, or biking (which was the originally tested exercise). You can mix up the exercises as well depending upon your goals.

Here is a Tabata workout for you to try.

(This type of training is a type of interval training or HIIT: High Intensity Interval Training. I’d recommend you building an aerobic base first before adding these workouts into your plan. Build your base by doing 3 cardiovascular workouts per week at 70-75% exertion level for 4-8 weeks.)

1. 8 minutes warm-up on a stationary bike.

2. Round 1-4 Bike Sprints:

  • Add heavy resistance and pedal as fast as you can for 20 seconds.
  • Take off resistance and slowly pedal for 10 seconds.
  • Repeat 4 times

3. Round 5-8 Burpees:

  • Squat low then jump and reach as high as you can. After landing, put your hands to the floor and hop back into a plank position. Do 1 push-up. Hop your feet back up towards your hands and repeat for 20 seconds.
  • Slowly move and breathe deeply for 10 seconds.
  • Repeat 4 times.

4. 8 minutes cool-down on a stationary bike.

Here is a video demo of the infamous “burpee”.

There are several free Tabata Timer apps out there for Tabata training, but I’ve found this one to be the most user friendly and has the most customization available. You can add in a warm-up, change the number of rounds, add a playlist and even have a voice or sound to alert you for changes.

You don’t need to have equipment, a gym, fancy machines or a big space to do Tabata training. In the time it took for you to read this post, you can have the Tabata workout complete!

Artwork by Gabriela Serrano

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