If someone told you could turn you body into a fat burning machine by doing a 4 minute workout you would probably laugh at them. If I told you that person was a doctor and his name was Tabata you should probably stop laughing and listen up.
Izumi Tabata, Ph.D, was formerly a researcher for the Japanese National of Fitness and Sport. Back in 1996 Izuma Tabata performed research into an interval training routine that had been developed by the head coach of the Japanese Speed Skating Team. His findings were staggering.
What is the Tabata Protocol?
The Tabata Protocol is a timed workout that is only 4 minutes long. It consists of 20 seconds of hard (intense) exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest, and then you repeat this 8 times. Sounds easy doesn’t it?
What Did The Study Involve?
The study examined the effect of the Tabata Protocol vs. traditional 60 minutes aerobic workout. The 4 minute exercise group had to ride a stationary bike at 90 RPMs at 170% of VO2max. For those that don’t know much about vo2max, let’s just say 170% is working extremely intensely.
At the end of the 6 week study the aerobic and anaerobic fitness of the participants was tested. The 4 minute exercise group had improved both their aerobic and anaerobic markers of fitness – only exercising 4 minutes a day. The 60 minute aerobic group improved their aerobic fitness (not as much as the 4 minute group) and saw no change in their anaerobic fitness.
So How Does A 4 Minute Fat Burn Cardio Workout Burn Fat?
This form of short high intensity interval training improves your body’s metabolic conditioning, through the use of a combination of strength and anaerobic conditioning drills. The goal is to work as intensely as possible staying around your anaerobic threshold.
Basically speaking the 4 minutes of exercise will boost your metabolic rate and will have your body burning calories for hours after the workout is completed. You will actually burn more calories after the workout, than you do during the workout.
The other massive bonus to this style of workout, is that the research showed that whilst it is extremely effective at burning fat it will not result in muscle tissue being compromised.
What Exercises Can Be Used During The 4 Minute Fat Burn Cardio Workout?
As you can see from the study, the participants worked extremely intensely for the 4 minutes. As such you need to select exercises that are challenging, there is little point in selecting an easy exercise, such as sit-ups. The choices of challenging exercises are pretty much endless and can change from workout to workout.
You can select body weight exercises such as burpees, jump squats, push-ups or even chin-ups. You can chose resistance based exercises such as squats, thrusters, push-press, kettle bell swings. Or you can even use cardio equipment as they did in the study, my only advice is when choosing cardio equipment, pick a piece of equipment, that will allow you to get to your maximum capacity quickly.
Here is a short video of body weight squats being used to complete a 4 minute fat burn cardio workout. Take note of the intensity during the workout.
This Routine Can Even Be Sports Specific
You can even select your exercise to suit your sport. As a footballer, you could chose to do sprints for 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds rest, a fighter could punch and kick a bag for 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds of rest, or a rower could get on a rowing machine and row intensely for 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds rest.
How To Fit The 4 Minute Fat Burn Cardio Workout Into Your Training
Personally I use the 4 minute fat burn cardio workout as a finisher to my weight training sessions. What that entails is at the end of my session I complete a 4 minute workout to finish my training. I chose to do it at the end of my session as I want to be at my freshest when I am lifting weights.
With respect to which exercise I chose, it all depends on what body parts I have trained during the session. I usually try and choose an exercise that utilises muscle groups that I haven’t totally exhausted during my session.
As an example I won’t choose to complete push-ups during my 4 minute fat burn cardio workout if I had just completed bench press during my weights session. My reasoning is I simply could not get through the Tabata session as my chest would already have been pre-fatigued. Instead I would choose something like jump squats as it in no way relies on my upper body to complete the movement.
What To Do When You Are Only Starting To Get In Shape
As you can probably see, you need to be in reasonable shape to complete the Tabata Protocol. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do it if you are a bit out of shape. All you need to do is simply work your way up to the full 20 seconds on/10 seconds off protocol by varying the times within the 4 minute workout.
- 10 seconds on, 20 seconds off x 8
- 15 seconds on, 15 seconds off x 8
- 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off x 8
If you are struggling on your weight loss journey, you should consider taking a look at my recommended nutrition plan <— Link to Website. Once your nutrition is in order I recommend you have a look at my recommended training program for women <— Link to Website or my recommended training plan for men <— Link to Website.
Good luck with your training and if you need any help with exercise selection or have any advice for people that are new to the Tabata Protocol, drop a comment below!