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The Best 4 Minutes of Your Life: Tabata

When doing physical exercise you are always training either your aerobic or anaerobiccapacity.

It’s really that simple.

If you don’t know the difference between these two, you’d better learn it right away. To give you a hint, the ultimate aerobic exercise is marathon running. The ultimate anaerobic exercise is… probably arm wrestling.


Imagine a method of training that will maximize your anaerobic capacity while at the same time increasing your aerobic capacity. Sounds like a dream come true, huh? “But you probably need a lot of equipment and expensive gear?” you may ask.

Well, if you think that, then I’m going to save you a lot of money today because I’m going to show you how to maximize your aerobic and anaerobic capacity in training just 4 minutesa day. Yup, you heard me right.

That gives you 23 hours and 56 minutes to relax.

It sound like a miracle, I know.

But there’s a price to pay (as always).

Think exhaustion… pools of sweat… vomit… and a big flabby piece of meat lying on the floor.

That piece of meat is you.

Enter the Tabata Method

In 1997, the now famous Dr. Izumi Tabata and his colleagues at the Japanese Institute of Fitness and Sport discovered something amazing. They found an interesting and highly effective way to increase both anaerobic and aerobic pathways at the same time. It’s one of those strange training methods that seems to cross boundaries, with the same exercise.

This training method, today known as the Tabata Method (or Tabata Protocol), is so simple, yet so incredibly difficult, that the top athletes tend to try it once, admire it’s greatness and then keep quiet about it. Because they don’t want people to know that they actually use this seemingly simple method of training.

“Yeah, yeah, stop teasing us, what is it, more exactly?”

It’s simple: take one exercise and perform it in the following manner:

  1. For exactly 20 seconds, do as many repetitions of the exercise as you possibly can.
  2. Rest for exactly 10 seconds.
  3. Repeat seven more times, making it a total of 8 sets.

That’s it! You’re done in four minutes! Oh, and that thing you’re trying to wipe off of your forehead? It’s not sweat.

That would be the floor.

You simply choose an exercise, do it twenty seconds, rest ten seconds, and do that totally eight times, for maybe two times a week! I just described the whole Tabata Method in one sentence. It’s that easy.

This method, in theory, is so simple that I almost can’t find words for it. It’s… childish! But in practise I can easily find words for it:

Brutal, barbarous, cruel, savage and vicious.

Please try it.

It’s only four minutes of your day. But you need to choose an exercise that uses largemuscle groups. The bigger the better. For example, the legs, torso and arms are fairly big. I suggest you do squats and push-ups. Better yet, combine them. Or do the famous MMA exercise, the Burpee (as pictures above).

Basically you can do any exercise that you want, but compound movements are best suited. Do the exercise as explosive as you can, like you are ripping your body apart! And remember, do it 20 seconds, then rest 10.

It’s very important to not rest more than 10 seconds. Tabata’s research showed that an interval of 20 second of intense activity followed by exactly 10 second of rest puts both the aerobic and anaerobic systems at peak stress and improves both aerobic and anaerobic capacity. Longer rest periods do not put either of the systems at peak stress.

So basically if you rest longer it’s still good, but not optimal.

And oh, you really shouldn’t consider doing much after the Tabata workout.

Well, you could try, but I doubt you will be able to do it anyway.

Ok, so far so good, now you know the basics of a Tabata exercise. But what are the gains? Well, Dr. Tabata himself used his method for only 6 weeks on a test group of already physically fit athletes. The result was of course great (why else would I mention it?).

Dr. Tabata noted a 28% increase in anaerobic capacity in his subjects, along with a 14% increase in their aerobic ability. And remember, these results were witnessed in already physically fit athletes!

You know what?

I just wrote all of this and still can’t believe it.

Please feel free to comment if you try it.

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