We’re only a few weeks into 2018 and we’ve already cheated on our workout goals. Ugh! But instead of ditching our New Year’s fitness resolutions and living the rest of the year as Netflix-binging couch potatoes, we’re finding new ways to stay motivated, including mixing up our fitness plan by adding a few trendy workouts to our regular gym sessions. Our pick for one of the dark-horse top fitness trends of 2018? Tabata, a four-minute Japanese HIIT workout and one of the top three workouts that Americans Googled in the past year. So what is this mysterious at-home regimen that can help you burn more than 330 calories in just four minutes? Here’s a quick introduction to the trendy workout that everyone’s talking about.
A Brief History of Tabata and HIIT
High intensity interval training, better known as HIIT, is one of the most popular fitness trends of the past few years, and with good reason. Basically, a HIIT workout involves performing heart-pounding exercises for a short amount of time at maximum intensity, followed by a short burst of low-intensity activities, with the entire workout usually taking no longer than 15 minutes. Not only is it very time-efficient exercise, but it’s also a great option for folks who are trying to lose body fat because of the “afterburn” effect — essentially, your body requires more energy to repair itself after a HIIT workout, so you end up burning calories even after you’ve plopped on the coach. Plus, because HIIT workouts are so ubiquitous, there are tons of free apps and YouTube tutorials for beginners that can be modified to any fitness level or crammed schedule.
Tabata is a form of HIIT that was first studied by Japanese professor Dr. Izumi Tabata while researching training methods for the Japanese Olympic speed-skating team. According to fitness app 8Fit’s guide, Tabata and his colleagues conducted a study in 1996 that compared a 60-minute, moderate-intensity continuous workout with a four-minute HIIT workout. “The study found that HIIT improved aerobic capacity to a similar degree as moderate-intensity continuous training, but also resulted in a 28 percent increase in anaerobic capacity. In laymen’s terms: Basically, this exercise strategy both strengthens your muscles and improves your cardiovascular system.”
After the success of both this paper and the Japanese speed skating team, the Tabata method became increasingly popular in the fitness world. The basic structure of a Tabata workout is the following: You do an exercise as hard as you can for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, and repeat eight times over for each exercise. There are no specific exercises that must be included in a Tabata workout, so you can tailor your experience by including any cardio you prefer, including squats, burpees, and kettlebell exercises. “If you’re doing the Tabata intervals correctly with maximal intensity, those four minutes will seem like the longest four minutes of your life,” 8Fit’s Tabata guide says.
A Tabata Workout for Beginners: How to Burn 336 Calories in under 10 Minutes
Now that we understand the basics of Tabata, it’s time to actually try this grueling four-minute workout. This 8Fit Tabata workout requires no equipment and can be done practically anywhere (at home, in the break room, on your apartment patio), so there are no excuses, folks!
1. Squats (4 minutes): Keep your feet separated between hip-width and shoulder-width apart. with your toes facing forward or slightly turned out. Do 20 seconds of regular squats followed by 10 seconds of rest. Repeat this 30-second loop eight times. “It’s normal to start to fatigue around the fourth round or to run out of steam toward the end,” notes the 8Fit team. “It’s okay if you slow down in the last few rounds, but do not stop.”
2. 60-second break: You’ve earned it!
3. Mountain climbers (4 minutes): Mountain climbers are a great way to get your heart rate up while sculpting your abs and shoulders. Following the same pattern as above, perform eight 20-second rounds of mountain climbers with 10-second breaks between each session. “Throughout the entire workout, don’t forget to engage your core by pulling your belly button into your spine. This will help protect your lower back and strengthen your abdominal muscles. When performing both exercises, also be mindful of keeping your neck in line with your spine with shoulders back and down.”
For more information about how to perform each exercise safely and correctly, please check out 8Fit’s Tabata guide.
Have you tried this grueling Tabata workout yet? Tweet us your comments @BritandCo.
(Photos via 8Fit)