How to Get Fit in 4 Minutes

Is it really possible to get fit in 4 minutes a day? That is the rumor. It is not just a rumor that’s new. It’s something that people have been talking about for quite a long time. Actually since 1996, people have been talking about how to get fit by training harder in shorter intervals. I am in my gym and just finished my own workout and I keep seeing posts about Tabata and it’s become a pet peeve and so I wanted to just kind of dispel some of the myths, some of the misinformation that’s out there and hopefully give you some answers so that you know what is best for you.

Okay, so the question is, can you get fit in 4 minutes a day? Well it’s a loaded question and there isn’t a simple yes or no but let me begin by helping you understand the difference between Tabata training, HIIT training, aerobic training, what you should be doing. What’s best for you and how to really maximize not only your results but how good you feel and how much time you have and kind of planning a schedule that makes this all possible for you.

Okay, so first let me explain Tabata. Tabata is actually the last name of the professor who did the research that really sparked this whole Tabata movement. Now professor Izumi Tabata was a Japanese scientist who was commissioned, get this. Not to sell infomercials, not to create a program for the gyms, but to get Japanese Olympic speed skaters in the optimal performance the best shape of their lives. I mean he was commissioned to make sure that these Olympic speed skaters were the most fit they could possibly be.

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So I say that because his job was to scientifically study all forms of training and figure out what is the best. If my livelihood depends upon me getting these Elite athletes in tip top condition, I don’t care what it is. I am not going to pick trend. I am going to study and I am going to figure out what is the best. Okay, so what Professor Tabata did is, he looked at HIIT training, he looked at interval training, he looked at forms of HIIT training and this is how the Tabata system was developed.

In his study of both HIIT training and steady state aerobic training which is anything you do where you are basically sustaining your heart rate at a steady, consistent, you know 50%, 60% of maximum heart rate. And intervals where he was taking Elite athletes to near capacity and then all the way to the maximum of their capacity doing intervals but what he found was that there was a zero percent increase in overall fitness when he trained these Elite athletes using steady state aerobic conditioning. What he did find is that there was incredible increase in their overall fitness both aerobically and anaerobically which means when you are technically speaking, it means without oxygen.

It’s when you are at max capacity. You can’t go harder. You are looking for a place to puke like that kind of difficulty, okay. And so what he found was that the athletes when he trained them at high intervals, they were getting far better results. So then he started playing with which interval is going to give them the best results. Obviously that’s his job right. So he started looking at, okay so what if I train them 3 minutes on and one minute off. What if I train them one minute hard and 3 minutes off and he kept playing with these intervals until he discovered that the absolute best results were when he had these athletes performing at 20 seconds of max, did you hear me? Max intensity and most people don’t know what max feels like.

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They think, okay I am going hard for 20 seconds. You’ll that ain’t max. Push us to 20 seconds, isn’t that max but I shouldn’t get so on my soapbox but there is a difference between going hard and so hard if you are praying to Jesus to make this end. You are looking at your stopwatch going, this thing has got to be broken. There is no way this thing is still working. That’s max like when you are like, I am going to die. I can’t go 21 seconds, that’s max and there is a difference between that and just going hard for 20 seconds.

There is a big difference and what he did is, he would poke his athletes up to all kinds of equipment that could measure their heart rate, oxygen consumption, everything so he could actually determine that they were at that maximum heart rate as quickly as possible because think about it. If you’ve got 20 seconds and you are doing something that it takes a minute to get into it, you’ve already blown 10 seconds of it like 20 seconds goes by fast. So there aren’t very many exercises that actually will get you into your maximum anaerobic threshold, your maximum capacity immediately and so that’s number one and what he found, get this was that by taking athletes, here it comes, here it comes.

By taking athletes through 20-second intervals, 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off and then repeating that sequence 8 times which is a total of 4 minutes. I am doing the math for you, got it. 20 seconds on, hard as you can, 10 seconds, you are just [gasping] just recovering and then repeating that 8 times which is a total of 4 minutes. Get this. You are ready for this. Those athletes improved overall fitness and that means their strength, flexibility, aerobic and anaerobic capacity by 13% and they had a zero percent increase after doing the same study with an hour of steady state aerobic conditioning, running, cycling, whatever it is you are doing. That’s interesting.

He also found that their anaerobic fitness was increased by 28%. Now this study was commissioned in 1996. Professor Izumi Tabata is still alive and kicking today and he is still doing his research and these studies still hold up. And I mean there has been lots of research to try to debunk them but the studies still show up. Here is what you need to know about it. Number one, you have to know what it means to be at your max capacity. Doing something for 20 seconds does not equal Tabata. Doing jumping jacks for 20 seconds is not Tabata. Can you do jumping jacks for a minute? If the answer is yes, then that’s not a Tabata.

You have to be doing something at such an intensity, you could not do it for more than 20 seconds, are we clear? Now the other really interesting post research has found is that people actually burn additional calories for up to 12 hours post not just Tabata workout but actually HIIT workout too. So now, this is where the HIIT training comes into play too and I am going to explain the difference in a moment about HIIT training but just barn on, Tabata training is superior but most people don’t know how to get there. Most people are doing an interval of 20 seconds on and 10 seconds off and they are not at their maximum heart rate. So it can’t be considered a Tabata. It’s simply considered an interval.


In order for it to truly be a true Tabata, you have to be at your max capacity. What they also found was that the excess post exercise oxygen consumption, say that 20 times fast. Okay, I will say it again. That there was an increase in the post exercise oxygen consumption levels of all the athletes. What does that mean? It means that they are improving their fitness even after the session. It means that they are still burning calories at a higher rate for up to 12 hours after a Tabata session.

Okay, so we know that Tabata is superior socially [ph 0:07:52] and why wouldn’t we do Tabata every single day. Well some people can and if they are, they are probably not doing it correctly and they are probably not getting the kind of results that they’d like. Here is why because if you are doing a Tabata truly as a Tabata and you are putting your body, your systems, all of your systems under maximum stress because that’s what exercise is. Right, it’s a stressor. You know when we are lifting weights, what we are doing is, we are breaking down muscle fiber in hopes and effort that it will get stronger so the next time that we train the muscles stronger, we are breaking down our cardiovascular system so that it gets stronger, that’s what exercise is.

Exercise is a stress but it’s a healthy stress when there is proper rest. Oh, say that again Chalene Johnson. Exercise is only a healthy stress when there is proper rest. Quote me on that, tweet that, would ya? Exercise is a stress and it’s a healthy stress when it’s accompanied by proper rest. So in order to tax the body as much as you truly need to to get a legitimate Tabata workout, that means you need adequate rest and as we know, adequate rest is anywhere from 24 to 48 hours.

So ideally for you to get optimal results, you should not be doing Tabata more than two, maybe three times a week as long as you have adequate rest in between. Could somebody do a Tabata every other day? You could if you were smart enough to know if your body was fully recovered. Now if you are just beating yourself up seven days a week, you are going to keep beating yourself up and you are going to wonder like, how can I go any harder and the truth is, what you really need is more rest. You need more restorative workouts.

That’s why I am not going to tell you to only do Tabata. That’s why you should actually mix up your training and some days you should do steady state aerobic cardiovascular activities like Turbo Jam, like Country Heat, like you know things that are considered steady state aerobics, step aerobics, cycling where you are not doing interval. Those are considered steady state and you always want to mix up your cardio so that you are keeping your body guessing. That’s the whole idea and you want to mix it up so that you are also allowing your body to recover.

PiYO_111213_0835PiYo is a fantastic example of steady state conditioning. We don’t work in intervals in PiYo except in a couple of the workouts but the majority of the workouts are considered steady state bodyweight training. Now the workouts that Professor Izumi Tabata studied this with first initially in 1996 were just on a stationary bike so that he could have them all hooked up to the apparatus but since that time, he’s done countless studies using bodyweight training, using equipment and the results continued to speak for themselves and the methodology has really caught on amongst the lot of people.

The difference between Tabata and HIIT training is this. Tabata is a form of intervals, a very specific form of intervals, basically any interval that includes some form of high intensity. So in a HIIT workout, you could do one minute of push-ups and then one minute of Air Jacks and then recover for 2 minutes. Its intervals of intensity and work with rest, okay. So not all HIIT workouts are built the same. Some HIIT workouts are more effective than others. The bottom line is, what is your goal. I hope that your goal is longevity. I hope that your goal is simply to be more productive, to feel happier, to be nicer, to be kinder and to live longer.

I hope that it is not your goal to look better than everybody else. I hope that you don’t think that by losing weight and losing body fat that somehow you are going to be a better person or a happier person. You may be a happier person but it won’t be because of your body. It will be because you are taking care of yourself. It will be because you are showing the world that you matter. It will be because you finally have figured out that you can put together a plan and you can follow through and amazing things happen but losing weight doesn’t make you happy.

Meet somebody who is struggling with an eating disorder and they will tell you, losing weight does not make you happy. It does not make you better, it does not make you more likable, more lovable, more fun to be around. Taking care of yourself is what makes you happier, which makes you a better person, which makes you a better mom, which makes you a better everything but if you are doing it so that you can be better looking than somebody else or so that people will see you as worthy because finally you can see your abs. You know the average woman has to get her body fat so low in order to see her abs that she risks losing the ability to menstruate.

It feels like an obsession that we need to see your abs but you have to know that a big part of that is genetics. That’s not to say, you shouldn’t work to keep your body fat low, but if the goal is just a particular body part, look at your overall body fat, look at your health, look at how you feel. Do you feel run down, do you feel like a million bucks? Do you like the way you look in your clothes and if that’s the case, boom! You did it! Goal accomplished and you should be happy. You should be proud because I personally believe that we should be exercising for less selfish reasons.

We should be exercising for other people so that we show the world that we can take care of ourselves and therefore we can take care of you. I am a good leader because I put my own health in my mental wellbeing first. I’ve got a crazy, crazy ridiculous, ridiculous, redonkulous schedule today. Today is the day where I feel like I don’t have time to exercise and that’s why I knew it was really important for me to exercise and that’s why a Tabata is the best thing you can do when you are short on time. All of these reasons and excuses that we give ourselves and say well, I just don’t have time to exercise, that’s when you need to exercise because you will be more productive with your time, you will be more creative. You will actually get more done and side note, you will feel better. How awesome is that?

So that’s the difference between Tabata and HIIT training. So to recap, Tabata is a form of interval training developed by professor Izumi Tabata in Japan who is commissioned in 1996 to get Elite Olympic speed skaters in the absolute optimal level of fitness possible. He was able to increase their overall fitness rate by just doing 4 minutes a day of highest maximum capacity training intervals where you would do 20 seconds at max capacity, 10 seconds of rest and then repeat that 8 times. That’s a total of 4 minutes.

PYO_ChaleneOnPiyoSet-07-243He was able to increase their overall fitness by 13%. The study has been repeated countless times. You can still look them up on YouTube. He is still in the lab studying. It also increases your anaerobic threshold which increases your aerobic threshold by 28%. That’s crazy and here is what I love about Tabata training. If you are just getting back into fitness or you are short on time which who isn’t, anyone can fit in 4 minutes. The question is, will you go hard enough in those 20 seconds for it to legitimately be considered a Tabata. That’s the question.

The next point that I need you to remember, the next takeaway is that you should always be changing it up. You can’t do Tabata every day. Your body needs rest. It is in our periods of rest that the body repairs and we make progress. We don’t make progress when the body is being beat up. We only make progress during our rest phases and that’s why it is important to rest and sometimes you can rest and still exercise. Does that make sense? A slow bike ride on a Recumbent bike while you are checking your social media channels, that would be considered restorative.

Doing very low intensity PiYo or yoga or just doing any workout at a very low intensity just so that you clear your brain, that’s considered restorative. Taking a day off is restorative. You know sometimes life just serves [0:15:31] you up a day off and you didn’t plan it. Don’t be mad about it. Say oh cool, this is God’s way of saying, I like for you to make some progress today because when you take a day off, you will make progress. So you just have to say, thank you God for ruining my plans to exercise today. You must know that I need rest. He always knows what’s best for you. Thanks for being here, thanks for putting up with me. I love you guys. God bless!