Archive for Monday, September 10, 2012


No time to work out? Try 4-minute Tabata

September 10, 2012


September should be a perfect month to amp up your fitness routine.

It’s a new season, it’s a new month, and for many of us, it’s the perfect time to start owning up to the resolutions that we have been secretly harboring: “When it gets cool, I’ll start running again,” “When the kids are in school, I’ll head back to the gym,” “I’ll start working out when the new month begins so I have a clean slate.” And so on and so forth.

Admit it. You’ve said these things, or at least things that are remotely close to this. But I’ll be the first one to admit that the weather certainly isn’t cooperating with my new fall plan, and the gym seems to take an awful lot of time out of my day. There’s the changing of clothes, and the drive and the inevitable chatting that occurs. And that’s all before the actual workout commences!

It’s no wonder that the most common excuse for not working out is the very simple and true, “I don’t have time.” And while that may very much be true, we all know that there is at least a small block of time where one can most certainly fit in some time to focus on exercise, health and wellness.

You can do an intense and challenging workout in 4 minutes if you commit to giving it you’re all. Are you a doubting Thomas? Well, doubt no more. Get off the couch and welcome to the world of Tabata.

I’ve participated in and instructed interval classes and am a big fan of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) for that cardio kick that is necessary for weight loss and cardiovascular health.

After all, almost every personal trainer and certified group fitness instructor will tell you that it’s necessary to engage in some steady-state cardio if you want to uncover that six pack that you just know is there.

But there’s that time issue arising again. I am not trivializing this at all. I started a new job recently, am taking two graduate classes, training clients, teaching two fitness classes, writing this column and lest I forget the two elementary-aged children that simply need their mama …

Yes, I get that you are busy. And so with no further ado, here’s your workout salvation. You can thank me later.

Tabata in a nutshell: Choose two exercises — one cardio in nature and one involving strength training.

The best way to make this work is to install a free Tabata timer app on your phone. Then, for 20 seconds (20 SECONDS!) you will hit that cardio (think jumping jacks, high knees or burpees).

The timer will ring, and you will have 10 seconds to grab your weights or band and transition to the next 20 seconds of strength training (think squats with an overhead press, lunges with bicep curls, or front and side raises).

The timer will ring, and you will transition back to the cardio move.

You will do this for — are you ready for this? — 4 minutes. That’s it. That’s all.

A Tabata workout is a set of eight intervals, each lasting 20 seconds with a 10 second rest before repeating. The goal is to perform each interval at a high intensity level. Sounds easy, right? 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off, performed continuously eight times in a row.

From start to finish, you’re done in 4 minutes. Yes, you read that correctly.

Four minutes. We can do that. We can make that time. It’s easy.

I only left out the one very essential tip that will make this pay off for you in the manner that it should, and if you do this it will pay off in a big way: You MUST give those 4 minutes your best and your hardest. You MUST put everything that you have — all of your stress, all of your anger, all of your drive — into that four minutes.

YOU CAN DO THIS! Let me know how it goes. I’ll be pulling for you, all of the way.

— Jennifer Osborn can be reached at


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