A 4-Minute Workout That Works

Patrick Dunham's picture
By Patrick Dunham on August 31, 2016

How would you like to work out for only 4 minutes, but get maximum benefits? Then you need to try Tabata. Introduced by Dr. Izumi Tabata to help increase performance for athletes, Tabata is a high intensity interval training (HITT) that consists of a sprint-like effort for 20 seconds followed by a brief rest period of 10 seconds, all for a total of 4 minutes.

But don’t let the short time frame deceive you. This workout will push your limits, increase strength and help you slim down. The secret is the effort and the work to rest ratio. Tabata’s work to rest ratio is 2:1, which forces you to work at a higher intensity for a longer period of time. As opposed to most interval training, which has a work to rest ratio of 1:1, allowing for a longer rest period.

If you want to get technical, since the workout time is 4 minutes, the aerobic energy system is engaged, along with previous energy systems, the ATP/PCr and anaerobic glycolysis energy systems. Too technical? Ok, what this means is that in just 4 minutes (a really hard 4 minutes) you can increase your aerobic capacity, anaerobic capacity, VO2 max, resting metabolic rate and burn more fat than a traditional 60-minute aerobic workout. 

Plus, according to the American College of Sports Medicine, Tabata will also improve your blood pressure, cardiovascular health, insulin sensitivity (which helps the exercising muscles more readily use glucose for fuel to make energy), cholesterol and decrease abdominal fat and body weight while maintaining muscle mass. Tabata can be used for just about any type of aerobic exercise such as running or swimming, but to really get maximum benefits I like to perform three to five bodyweight exercises to get both strength and cardiovascular benefits.

The great thing about Tabata training is that YOU are the architect!

Try these Tabata example workouts below.

Tabata Training
Work: 20 seconds
Rest: 10 seconds
Effort: Maximum
Total Workout Time: 4 minutes

Cardio Tabata

  • 30 second sprint (running at your maximum pace)
  • 10 second walk

Repeat eight times for a total of 4 minutes. You can also do this on a bike or jumping rope.

Strength and Cardio Tabata
Bodyweight Exercises
1. Squats – 20 seconds
Rest - 10 seconds

2. Push-ups - 20 seconds
Rest - 10 seconds

3. Mountain climbers - 20 seconds
Rest - 10 seconds

4. Jumping jacks - 20 seconds
Rest - 10 seconds

5. Flutter kicks - 20 seconds
Rest - 10 seconds

6. Jump rope or run in place - 20 seconds
Rest - 10 seconds

7. Lunges - 20 seconds
Rest - 10 seconds

8. Burpees - 20 seconds
Rest - 10 seconds  

Find your strength at Carilion Wellness!

Before performing any exercise consult your physician for clearance. Stop exercising immediately if you feel lightheaded, dizzy or have chest pains.