How effective can just 4 minutes of exercise be? Very. You will be amazed at how intense the four minutes of exercise will feel.
Credit for this simple and powerful training method belongs to its namesake, Dr. Izumi Tabata and a team of researchers from the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo, Japan. Their groundbreaking study, published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports & Exercise, provided documented evidence concerning the dramatic physiological benefits of high-intensity intermittent training. The conclusion was that just four minutes of Tabata interval training could do more to boost aerobic and anaerobic capacity than an hour of endurance exercise.
Although Dr. Tabata used a mechanically braked exercise cycle machine, you can apply this protocol to almost any exercise. Pretty much any form of cardiovascular exercise that uses a large number of muscles can be tailored to fit Tabata interval workouts, so feel free to be creative. Use them with sprints, burpees, a jump rope, the heavy bag, treadmill or rowing machine. Lessen the likelihood of injury by choosing a rate of intensity suited to your level of conditioning - be conservative. Also, go for "muscle confusion" by incorporating variety into your Tabata workouts. A few sessions per week will offer plenty of intensity.
The "Tabata Anything Workout" mp3, the latest from MyThoughtCoach.com, will make it easy by covering both the timing and music intensity. All you need to do is add the magic moves! The recording consists of a two minute warmup, followed by the eight rounds, and then ending with a generous cool down.
Really read to go for it? Here is a longer Tabata workout example. This workout consists of 4 separate Tabata Intervals, each 4 minutes. The total workout will last 16 minutes. Always begin with a moderate warm-up and cool down session ( if you are not already in good shape, check with a doctor before trying!)
* Jump Rope
* Chin-ups or Pull-ups
Reference: Tabata--Four Minutes of Pain for Gain, ezine article by John Harker