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Four Minutes to Fit: Maximize Your Time with Tabata Workouts

We’re all busy, right? But you don’t need a lot of time to work out, we swear. In fact, if you do Tabata exercises, you only need four minutes. FOUR! If you haven’t heard of Tabata, pay attention. We’ll let Judi Brown, DailyBurn.com trainer and wellness coach school you in Tabata! 

As moms, we are constantly striving to maximize our time. Where can we possibly squeeze in the time for a workout in our hectic schedules? More importantly, when we actually find the time for a workout, what type of exercise is going to deliver the biggest bang for our buck?

judibrown1As a single mom of two young boys, I know just how challenging this can be. Therefore, I always try to focus on working out smarter and more efficiently with short intense exercises like Tabata—one of the most efficient fat-burning workouts out there!

Tabata is proclaimed to be a fitness miracle, especially for those of us who are short on time. Tabata training is fast and furious and helps turn the bod into an efficient fat-scorching engine!

So what is Tabata? Tabata is a training protocol that was discovered by Japanese scientist, Izumi Tabata, and his team of researchers at the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo. Izumi and his team conducted research on two groups of athletes testing VO2 max, the body’s ability to use oxygen for energy: one group trained at a moderate-intensity level while the other group trained at a high-intensity level for only 4 minutes consisting of 20 seconds of exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest.

Both groups improved their aerobic systems, meaning they increased their endurance for low- to moderate-intensity exercise, but only group two increased their anaerobic systems, meaning they increased their ability to sustain high-intensity exercise for a longer period of time. Their anaerobic systems improved by 28 percent contributing to a greater VO2 max.

The Tabata workout lasts only four minutes, but is one of the longest four minutes you’ll ever encounter. The goal is to push yourself as hard as you can for 20 seconds and rest for 10 seconds until you complete eight sets.

Why Should We Doing Tabata Workouts?

Tabata is intense, but well worth it! This type of exercise helps push your body past its comfort zone, so your fitness level improves and you bust through plateaus. Training at a high intensity ramps up your metabolism and helps your body burn more fat in the long run, even if you don’t do it for very long. Who wouldn’t like that?!

Unlike other methods of training, Tabata protocol is a true metabolic conditioner. The Tabata method puts short-lived but acute stress on the body. When these intense exercises occur on a regular basis, the body increases its metabolism to handle the stress and repair itself. So not only are you burning a ton of calories during the workout and sculpting and toning your body, but you are also speeding up your metabolism so you burn more calories even when you are at rest. Win-win!

A Tabata Workout to Try


The Tabata method is very demanding. As is true for any strenuous exercise, a warm-up or mobility routine is advisable before beginning. Tabata training is recommended for those who have already achieved some level of physical fitness. And per any workout, make sure you are maintaining good form throughout the entire interval. It’s also possible to modify Tabata for newbies by taking a time out for a round or two and then jumping back in—and, of course, work to your level. You can see your progress by eventually knocking out all eight rounds!

Tabata Workout

Perform 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off / 8 rounds of each exercise.

Move 1: Push-ups. You can always drop down to your knees to modify.

Move 2: Jump rope. If you don’t have a jump rope, you can do high knee runs

Move 3: Squats.

Move 4: Mountain climbers.

Another great option for moms who may not have the time to make it to the gym is an at-home fitness program like DailyBurn.com. DailyBurn offers a variety of online-streaming exercises, including Tabata that can be done right from your living room! Along with the exercise, DailyBurn’s trainers (like me!) will guide you through each program while teaching you proper technique and giving you that motivation you may need to get through an entire workout. —Judi

A big thanks to Judi for sharing her awesome Tabata workout tips. Have you tried a Tabata workout? —Erin

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