4 Minutes to Fat Loss

4 minutes to Fat loss

When you step into a gym, what is the most common thing you see people do? Although I do not train at a commercial gym anymore, I do know that in most gyms people tend to shy away from the weight room and spend most of their time on ellipticals, treadmills, stairmasters and other cardio machines. A year later you will find these same people still performing slow steady cardio and still not getting any results. What they don’t know is that slow steady cardio is dead the and aside from being extremely boring, aerobic activity can increase your cortisol levels (this is a bad thing!). This explains why the gym trainee who opts for cardio over strength training can actually get fatter over time. Don’t believe me? Think of the difference in physique between Olympic sprinters and cross country runners. Sprinters are very muscular and are shredded to the bone, opposed to the Cross country runners who are usually scrawny .

So where does this leave us? What if I could tell you that you can burn more fat in 4 minutes, than during a session of aerobic exercise? This is made possible by implementing the tabata method. Tabata can be used by athletes, weekend warriors, housewives or anyone looking to strip body fat, increase work capacity and conditioning levels. I like to refer to this type of cardio as conditioning. Not only will it strip body fat off you, but it will get you into the best shape of your life. The great thing about tabata is that it can improve both your aerobic and anaerobic conditioning levels simultaneously. The tabata method is a form of high intensity interval training that requires the trainee to perform 20 seconds of intense exercise, followed by 10 seconds of rest. You repeat this for 7 more rounds. At the end of 4 minutes you will have completed 8 total rounds. Sounds simple right? I promise you it will be one of the more grueling training sessions you ever experience

Tabata protocol
-8 total sets
-Each set last 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds of rest
– Do as many reps as possible during the 20 seconds

Exercise Selection

One of the great things about tabata is its versatility. It can be performed with bodyweight, dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells, sandbags or any other odd equipment. For most people, bodyweight is a great option. Now that we know what equipment can be used, let’s go over what movements you can incorporate. The movements should be compound and use many muscles at one time- squats, lunges, dips, pushups, mountain climbers, burpees and any other exercise that requires your body to produce a lot of movement. I recommend you choose more than 1 exercise for the 4 minute span. By choosing 2 or more exercises, you will increase the metabolic demand needed to get through the workout. Here is a sample workout using 4 different exercises:

1. Body squats-20 seconds on, rest ten seconds than
2. Pushups-20 seconds on, rest ten seconds than
3. Mountain climbers-20 seconds on, rest ten seconds than
4. Lunges-20 seconds on, rest ten seconds than
5. Body Squats-20 seconds on, rest ten seconds than
6. Pushups-20 seconds on, rest ten seconds than
7. Mountain climbers-20 seconds on, rest ten seconds than
8. Lunges-YOUR DONE

At this point, you can rest a couple minutes and then either repeat the same workout or change up the exercises and go at it again. It’s totally up to you! As you progress, you will need to choose more challenging exercises and may even have to increase the number of 4 minute rounds you do. Generally, 2-3 rounds are more than enough to help you reach your goals.

In addition to performing tabata with bodyweight, those that are brave enough can try complexes tabata styke. Complexes can be performed with virtually any equipment- barbell, dumbbell, kettblebell, sandbag and so on. Incorporating the Tabata method into complexes can be absolutely brutal! Personally, I have done these quite a few times in the past and they absolutely suck the life out of me. When it comes to complexes you want to choose exercises that are compound (yes there is a trend with compound exercises).

Here is a sample barbell complex tabata style:
1. Conventional deadlift-20 seconds on, rest ten seconds than
2. Hang Clean-20 seconds on, rest ten seconds than
3. Front Squat-20 seconds on, rest ten seconds than
4. Military Press-20 seconds on, rest ten seconds than
5. Conventional deadlift-20 seconds on, rest ten seconds than
6. Hang Clean-20 seconds on, rest ten seconds than
7. Front Squat-20 seconds on, rest ten seconds than

Notes: You want to choose a weight that you can perform at least 10 times. Obviously you can deadlift more than you can press overhead so with this said, make sure you can perform at least 10 reps on your weakest exercise. Notice how the exercises flow. It is important to make sure that the exercises flow from one movement to the next. For those of you who are not familiar with complexes, let me know and I will be sure to write a post on it! Lastly, while resting, never put the bar down! Barbell complexes with a tabata style are no joke. You need to be one serious mofo to make it through these 4 minutes.

For beginners and even most intermediates, I recommend you start with bodyweight tabata workouts. You can perform them directly after your training session for extra conditioning or on a separate day. Remember that tabata workouts should take place of traditional cardio and can even be training sessions for most individuals. I highly recommend that all females cut out the cardio machines, triceps kickbacks, hip adduction, and abduction, and start doing some serious bodyweight tabata workouts. Meatheads should also incorporate tabata style complexes directly after their training or on lighter days. Please note that if your goal is get stronger, you should limit the amount of conditioning you do because if you do it too often, it can have a negative impact on your strength. In closing, tabata workouts will help bridge the gap between conditioning and fat loss. Ultimately, it will be a combination of your strength training and your diet that will help to strip fat off your body.

Joe Meglio
Performance Enhancement Coach
Tabata Method

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Leave A Reply (2 comments so far)

  • Thanks Joe. This is some useful information. I will test it out at mt next bootcamp. This may just send my BC warriors over the edge!;)


  • Glad I can help 🙂 Let me know if you have any questions or how else I can help you!