I know that finding time to train can be difficult, but I have a solution for those brutally busy days: Tabata intervals. One round of Tabata lasts only 4 minutes. That means that you squeeze multiple 4-minute workouts throughout the day, or string a six or seven rounds together to create a more complete workout.
Tabata intervals follow a simple pattern: 20 seconds of work, 10 seconds of rest. Repeat this pattern 8 times, and you’ve completed one full 4-minute round. These intervals are short, so they are intended to be done at high intensity (as close to 100% effort as possible).
Sprints, Jump Rope, Burpees, Squats, Lunges, Pushups, and Sit-ups make for great Tabata workouts, but you can do almost any exercise in this format. Isometric holds such as Planks, Wall Sits, Six Inches, or Squat Holds work well, too. You can also mix exercises together, alternating between 2 exercises in one round. Be creative!
Benefits of Tabata
Since you’ll be giving 100% effort, Tabata will boost your heart rate and metabolism almost instantly. This style of High Intensity Interval Training can also keep your metabolism in high gear for as long as 24-hours after the workout, which makes it optimal for fat burning.
Be sure to properly warm up and stretch to help avoid injury. Do not attempt Tabata unless you already have a decent fitness level. High intensity moves such as these can make you more prone to injury if your body isn’t prepared for it. Try starting with just one round mixed into your normal workout. Add more rounds over time as you feel more comfortable. Since doing one exercise over and over can get monotonous and lactic acid buildup will be making your muscles burn, you must stay absolutely focused to maintain proper form.
Since it can be tough to watch the clock while doing certain exercises, several smartphone apps are available for both Apple and Android platforms. These apps will give you audio and visual cues to keep your timing spot on. Most of them are free, so I highly suggest downloading one!
This is no replacement for a good training hike or trail run, but Tabata is a great weapon to keep in your arsenal for busy days or a change of pace.