The 4-Minute Workout: Is Tabata Training Effective?

Tabta-Moves-1236Most people want their workouts to be two things: fast and effective. That’s where high-intensity interval training techniques, like Tabata, come in handy.

The famed training protocol alternates 20-second intervals of maximal effort with 10-second rest periods. Repeat that cycle eight times for an exhaustive four-minute workout.

How It Works

Developed by Dr. Izumi Tabata for Olympic speed skaters, Tabata is a form of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) that’s been adopted by boot camp devotees, CrossFitters, and plenty of fitness fans who just want to spend less time in the gym. The 20-10 pattern has been shown to tax both aerobic and anaerobic pathways more than intense exercise with longer rest periods, meaning improved overall cardiovascular fitness. By taking rest periods only half the length of the intense bursts (a 2:1 work-to-rest ratio), the body is forced to perform without a full recovery. Translation: At some point between rounds six and eight, you’ll hit a point of maximum oxygen intake and be really (really) out of breath.

While the 20-10 protocol is most readily applied to traditional cardio (i.e. sprint for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds), the regimen is also suited to all manner of resistance training, bodyweight exercises, and even explosive movements. Whether performing squats, a dumbbell press, or even rowing, the trick is to find a resistance and speed that can be handled for multiple reps across multiple cycles.

Your Action Plan


Like many forms of HIIT, Tabata is an effective way to improve both metabolic pathways, initiate the afterburn effect, and can even stimulate growth of the mitochondria that powers muscles. It can mix up an otherwise dull running routine and even suits road warriors looking for a quick and effective hotel workout. But Tabata isn’t for the faint of heart (literally or figuratively). The routine was developed to fully exhaust Olympic athletes, so it’s probably not the best routine to try if you’re a total newbie. It requires a pain threshold for maximum level effort for multiple cyclesanyone with preexisting cardiovascular conditions should consult with a doctor first.

If you are new to fitness, instead of the full Tabata, begin with just four or five rounds and gradually build up endurance from there. Even the super-fit should avoid doing HIIT daily—your body needs time to recover.

Source: ~ By: David Tao

Work More Muscles in Half the Time With These Compound Exercises

Hang around a gym long enough, and you’ll probably hear talk of compound versus isolation moves. It’s pretty self-explanatory: Compound exercises recruit multiple muscle groups (squats, for example, recruit your glutes, hamstrings, quads, and even your core for stability). On the other hand, isolation movements zero in on just one muscle (like the leg extension machine).

Both forms of exercise have merit, depending on your individual goals. But frankly, we like compound moves because they work more muscles in less time. (And who isn’t time-crunched these days?) These 25 moves will not only slash your workout time, but they’ll also challenge your upper body, lower body, and core in totally creative ways so you’ll never get bored.

For some of the moves (including the workout at the end provided by Brynn Putnam, certified trainer and founder of Refine Method), you’ll need a medium-weight kettlebell or dumbbell.


1. Box Crawl

From all fours, lift your knees off the ground until hips are slightly higher than shoulders and you’re supported by the balls of your feet. Crawl forward, stepping with your right hand and left foot, then left hand and right foot. Crawl in a box formation, with two crawls in each direction: forward, to the right, back, and to the left.

2. Bird Dog

Start on your hands and knees, keeping shoulders over wrists and hips over knees. Engaging your abs, reach your right arm forward so it is in line with your ear, as you simultaneously extend your left leg straight back. Repeat on the other side.

3. Rotational Lunge

Step your right foot back, bend your knees, and engage your glutes, hamstrings, and quads as you lower into a lunge position. Reach your arms straight out in front chest, hands clasped together. Squeeze glutes and abs. Keeping shoulders and hips in one line, rotate 180 degrees toward your right shoulder, pivoting on the balls of your feet. You should now be in a lunge facing the opposite direction. Rotate left back to starting position. Make sure you rotate with enough force so you almost knock yourself off balance. Use your abs to stabilize.

4. Hinge and Reach

Kneel with your right foot forward so you are supported by your left knee. Reach your right arm overhead, engaging your abs and glutes. With your left hand, reach on a diagonal in front of you, hinging at the hips to touch the ground while keeping your right arm up. Using obliques, slowly return to starting position. Repeat on the other side.


5. Rotational Squat Lift

Stand with feet wider than hip-width, holding one weight in both hands. Send hips back, engage glutes, bend knees, and lower into a squat, bringing the weight to your left hip. Stand and lift the weight on a high diagonal toward your right shoulder. Focus on keeping your hips forward and abs engaged, as your allow your shoulders to twist. Repeat on the other side.

6. Quadruped Row to Arm Extension

Start on all fours with a weight near your right hand. Pick up the weight and, using upper back and shoulders, perform a row, pulling the weight up toward your right ribs. At the top of the row, your elbow should be hugged close to your body, and your forearm in line with your natural waist. Lower the weight back to the floor. Holding the weight, straighten right arm and simultaneously raise a straight left arm reaching until arm is in line with left ear. Focus on keeping shoulders pressed down and neck long throughout (no shoulder scrunching!).

7. Push-Up With Row

In a high plank position, perform a push-up. Then perform a row with your right arm, squeezing your shoulder blades together and engaging your upper back to pull your elbow toward your waist. Do another push-up, this time rowing with your left arm. Focus on keeping your chest down (not twisting in the direction you lift). Continue alternating sides.

Make it harder: Place a weight next to each hand and lift the weight when performing each row.

8. Squat to Overhead Press

Hold a weight with both hands at your chest and stand with feet hip-width apart. Send your hips back and bend your knees as you come into a low squat. Stand and press the weight overhead in one fluid movement. Bring the weight back to your chest.

Make it harder: Hold a kettlebell upside down in one hand, balancing so the bell always faces the ceiling.

9. Step-Up With Press

Holding a weight at your chest, step up onto a step, bench, or chair with your right foot. Focus on engaging your right glute and right hamstrings (not just pushing off with the left foot) as you step up. As you straighten right leg, press the weight overhead with arms by your ears and shoulders pressed down. Bring the weight back to your chest and slowly step your left foot back down. Repeat on the other side.

10. Squat With Biceps Curl

Hold a weight in front of your hips with straight arms and stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Perform a squat. At the bottom of your squat, perform a biceps curl, bending at the elbows to bring hands to shoulders, and extending all the way back down before rising to starting position.

11. Jack Plank With Tap-Up

In a high plank position, jump feet hip-width apart, then back together, keeping core tight throughout. Still holding a high plank, tap left shoulder with right hand, then right shoulder with left hand. Use your core to make sure your hips do not twist. Repeat the entire sequence as quickly as possible while maintaining proper form.

12. Hip Drive Into Triceps Extension

Sit on your knees. Hold the weight against your chest with both hands. Squeeze glutes and drive hips forward to an upright kneeling position. At the same time, press the weight overhead. Bend elbows, using triceps to lower weight behind head. Press weight back up, then lower it to your chest before returning to starting position. Focus on engaging your core throughout the exercise.


13. Split Squat Chop

Holding a weight with both hands, step your right foot back and hold. Reach the weight up on a high diagonal toward your right shoulder, keeping hips facing forward and allowing shoulders to twist. Bend your knees and lower into a lunge as your bring the weight toward your left hip in a chopping motion. Return to starting position with weight on a high diagonal. Repeat on the other side.

Make it easier: Keep the weight at your chest as you perform the lunge.

14. Hip Drive Halo Into Bottoms-Up Lunge

Sit on your knees holding a weight against your chest in both hands. Squeeze your glutes and drive hips forward to an upright kneeling position. Step your right foot forward. Squeezing your abs, circle the weight around your head (making a “halo”). Bringing the weight to your chest, step up to stand, keeping left foot off the ground. Lower left knee back to the ground, and reverse the entire movement to starting position. Repeat on the other side, making sure to halo the weight in the opposite direction.

Make it easier: Perform the same movement, but skip the halo. Complete the hip drive, to kneeling lunge, to standing position without pause.

15. Reverse Lunge With Biceps Curl

Standing holding weights with palms facing forward. Step your right foot back, engaging glutes and abs to lower into a lunge. Perform a biceps curl, keeping shoulders pressed down and abs tight. Lower weights and step right foot forward to starting position. Repeat on the other side.

16. Glute Bridge Chest Press

Lie faceup, knees bent, core engaged, hands at your sides holding weights. Squeeze glutes to raise hips into a bridge. Perform a chest press by pushing both hands up over chest, engaging pectorals. Lower weights and hips together.

Make it easier: Drop the weight, and practice raising your arms in a chest press motion, creating your own resistance.

17. Glute Bridge With Overhead Press

Lie faceup, knees bent, and core engaged. Holding a weight with both hands just below your sternum, squeeze glutes to raise hips into a bridge. Push the weight straight up, then slowly lower it overhead with elbows slightly bent. Slowly bring the weight back overhead, then lower to your chest before lowering hips to the ground.

Make it easier: Skip the overhead press. Hold weight in place while lifting hips, or extend weight up without bringing it overhead.

18. Hip Thrust Abs Rocker

Sit with knees bent and legs hip-width apart. Place hands on the ground directly under shoulders, fingers facing away from your body. Squeeze glutes and lift hips straight up so you’re in a table-top position. Lower hips back to the ground. Now engage your abs and lift hands and feet off of the floor, reaching arms forward. Lean back and extend your legs forward, coming into a “V” shape, keeping your shoulders and upper back off of the ground. Return to starting position.

19. Lateral Lunge With Chest Press

Hold a weight in both hands at your chest with feet wider than shoulders. Lean to the right, pushing hips back, bending right knee and keeping left leg straight. (You should feel your right glute engaged and a stretch on left leg.) At the lowest part of the lunge, push the weight forward, engaging pectorals. (Your arms don’t need to get totally straight; focus on keeping your upper body upright.) Pull weight back to chest and return to starting position. Repeat on the other side.

20. Single-Leg Deadlift to Hammer Curl

Holding a weight in your left hand, stand on your right foot, knee slightly bent. Keep your back straight as you hinge forward at the hips. With left leg straight out behind you, let arms relax at the shoulders and weights hang toward the ground. Engage glutes and hamstrings to slowly stand. Perform a biceps curl, keeping shoulders down and engaging your core for stability.

21. Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift With Row

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart holding a weight in right hand. Lift right foot off the ground and hinge at the waist, leaning forward with a straight back. (Think of your body as one straight line from head to heel.) Let right arm naturally fall forward so it’s perpendicular to your torso. At the lowest point, perform a row with the weight. Return to starting position.

Make it easier: Skip the row.

22. Push-Up to Side Plank

In a high plank position, perform a push-up. Lift your left hand off of the ground and rotate your hips to come into a side plank on your right hand, extending left arm up. Return to high plank. Perform another push-up and repeat the side plank on the other side. (Make sure to keep your shoulders and hips moving in the same line.)

23. Low to High Spiderman Plank

Start in a forearm plank, shoulders directly over elbows, core tight. Push off right forearm to come to right hand, then repeat on left side to come to a high plank position with shoulders over wrists. Keeping your abs tight and your hips still, bring your right foot toward the outside of your right hand and tap the ground so you’re in a low lunge position for a moment. Return to high plank, then tap left foot to outside of left hand. Return to starting position.

24. Squat Jumpback to Push-Up

Stand with feet hip-width apart and lower into a squat. Jump back into a high plank position, keeping your abs tight and hands under sternum. Perform a push-up. Hop feet forward to a wide squat so hands are between feet. Stand up and jump.

Make it easier: Step back one foot at a time into the high plank (instead of hopping) and skip the push-up.

25. Side Plank With Leg Lift

Start in a right side forearm plank, feet stacked on top of each other, hips lifted, core engaged, and shoulder directly above elbow. Raise left leg six inches, then slowly lower. Repeat on the other side.

The Workout

Now put ’em together with this highly efficient and super-creative workout created by Brynn Putnam, certified trainer and founder of Refine Method (who also models the exercises).

Source: ~ By: AMY EISINGER



The Gift of Health

By Kate Riley ~ Source:

I used to think fit people were strange and kind of freaky. Then again, I used to think and do a lot of things differently but in the past year I’ve changed. Two years ago I had tweaked my knee and used it as an excuse not to exercise. I was working too much and eating purely for pleasure. All three led to weight gain, unhappiness, and feeling exhausted all the time.

Late last summer I decided I was done feeling that way and decided to make regular exercise and clean eating my lifestyle, and not just with willpower but by forming new healthy habits. I’m proud to say I’ve stuck with it consistently, today I am strong, fast, flexible, and confident in my body.

It all began in July of 2014 in this public park down the road from my house. It’s there I began meeting with a personal trainer I had hired to teach me how to get fit for life. I met with a trainer for two months, we would meet twice a week and rotate between outdoor workouts and the gym. In this spot he’d make me do pushups and lunges and jumps and squats and V ups, on and on. Just yesterday I went back to that park to stretch before one of my regular strength training sessions (I lift weights on my own now) and I thought about how far I’ve come.

I’ve learned a few things along the way and wanted to share them today. I know we all struggle with finding the time and energy to lead a healthy lifestyle. I hope today’s post doesn’t come across preachy and instead inspiring.

Small Steps = Big Results. When you’re overweight or out of shape it’s overwhelming to think of fitness and weight loss and healthy eating in the big picture at first, it’s enough to make most people quit. Concentrating on “all the weight I have to lose” or “I’ll never be as fit as (blank) is” is a recipe for failure. I’ve read it takes three weeks to break a habit and two months to form a new one. What’s true is changing bad habits and forming new healthy ones works when you focus only on getting through that particular day or that week, not a year down the road. Do that and guess what? A year down the road those small steps really do lead to big changes.

a year from now

Small steps in fitness over time lead to major results. When I first started exercising regularly I could only do 1 real pushup and an 8 pound bicep curl felt heavy. Today I can bust out 20 pushups and do several sets of 20 pound dumbbell bicep curls, no problem, such progress! It took many months to build up to that but I learned never to compare myself to others, only with my own performance the week before. This week could I do a little bit better? That’s my goal, it still is. If you fail to perform or miss your workout, don’t stress, just get back up and start over again.

Small steps worked for me with nutrition as well. In the beginning of my transformation, I stopped eating just three things: fast food, processed food, and fried food. I ate only natural food for about six months to get my mind and body used to it. Once I’d broken that habit of eating crappy food I took my nutritional goal a step further. I limited starchy carbs like bread and pasta. Then a few months later I cut out most sugar and a lot of dairy. What I was left with after a year of small changes was a new habit of clean eating.

Nutrition Matters. For breakfast I make superfood smoothies, for lunch I eat a lot of chopped salads. I’m not on any diet with a name, I eat three regular and two small meals a day (yes five meals!) and I’m never ever hungry. I eat mostly plant based food and a lot of lean protein, but I’ll indulge in wine, chocolate, and savory sauces in moderation. I drink a glass of water before every meal and a glass in between meals too, I bought myself a cute water bottle and carry it with me everywhere.

One thing I’ve learned is I can curb cravings for junk food if I’ve prepared in advance which comes down to being proactive instead of reactive. Stocking my fridge with healthy choices just works. If I’m on the road, I bring a protein bar or small snack with me, and if really hungry I’ll stop at a supermarket and take 10 minutes to grab something natural to avoid the drive thru temptation. Another tidbit: someone once told me “remember the first bite tastes the same as the 20th so don’t have 20, have 3 or 4.” That has always stuck in my head and helped me stop eating too much of indulgent foods like sweets. I credit better nutrition and eating habits as 75% of the journey toward a healthy body.

healthy inside

Start Moving. The couch to 5K program is really great for those that are just getting started, the idea is just to get started somewhere, even if it’s simply walking an extra mile with a friend or with your dog. You can exercise anywhere, at the park, around your house, you don’t always have to go to a gym. Yoga, swimming, dancing, anything that gets you moving that you enjoy, find that and keep doing it!

STRONG, Not Skinny. I suffered from the common misconception among women that “weight lifting makes you bulky” but guess what, lifting weights does not make you bulky and it never will. You’ll never look like a body builder you’ll become toned which is what you want!

Building muscle melts the fat faster by increasing your metabolism so what happened over the course of a year was my arms got stronger and more sculpted and my legs did too and only strength training will do that. Not dieting and not cardio (although good nutrition and cardio matter!) Toned arms and legs come from weights and resistance bands, so ladies, learn to use those machines and free weights at the gym, or buy a resistance bands and do strength training at home. Watch videos on You Tube and work out with a few dumbbells. You don’t need heavy weights but you do need to do the reps that tone the muscles. As you age, you need strong muscles to prevent injury too so I’ll continue to lift weights for life!

Making Time. I think this is the biggest struggle for everyone in our fast paced society. Jobs, families, obligations, it all takes us away from time spent exercising. But what I learned is what we’ve all heard before, you’ve got to MAKE time and you only do that by saying no to unimportant things or making certain sacrifices. I had to give up time watching shows and hanging out online in exchange for finding an extra hour to exercise. I had to seriously examine what I was willing to give up to make gains health wise. Now looking back I can’t even remember thinking about what I missed on television or online! A healthy body takes both time and effort, what will you give up in order to make the time?

make the time

Make Exercise Social. I lift weights on my own during the week while I’m jamming to my tunes with headphones, but I also take fitness kickboxing classes three to four times a week and I really look forward to them because I love the camaraderie there. Taking the first class is always the hardest! But that little step of bravery has brought me some genuine friendships. Having a tribe of people around you who share a common goal (or even just 1 workout buddy) helps you stay accountable. Others on the same journey will encourage you, share in your challenges, celebrate your victories. Human connection is so helpful on any fitness journey!

There is No Finish Line. I’ve mentioned before whenever I’m asked what are you training for, my answer is always “For life!”  I finally came to terms with the fact it wasn’t about getting to a certain weight or being able to run a certain speed, it was about feeling good all the time, appreciating my body’s ability to move, and loving my body enough to feed it properly and pushing it to stay strong.

regret workout

The Carry Over. Being stronger and losing weight are not the only good things that have happened to me. Having a healthy body carried over into so many other aspects of life with residual benefits I didn’t expect. I sleep better, have a clearer mind, and much more energy. I feel so much better in clothes, and don’t get winded chasing my children around the house or on the soccer field. Endorphins from exercise fight off any depressing feelings, a good sweat session puts me in an amazing mood. Eating natural foods also carried over into better skin, hair, eyesight, all of it improved by feeding my body the good stuff instead of junk.

I’m not skinny gal, and I really don’t ever want to be. But I’m strong, I can jump and bend over and run and punch and lift in a way I couldn’t a year ago and that is a gift. Sometimes I’ll catch myself smiling as I drive around town and I realize it’s just because I feel so good. It took a lot of hard work to get where I am but now I feel as if I’m on cruise control. It’s a place I never imagined I’d get to, but I have.

If you’re struggling I hope you’ll take the right steps for you to give yourself the gift of health too.

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