Healthy Habits for the College Girl: Tabata Interval Training

You like to work out and aren’t afraid of challenges, but hour-long classes move too slowly and you're left itching to get your heart rate up. You want to burn calories, trim fat and speed up your metabolism, but are sick of running and hours on the elliptical. If this accurately describes you, tabata might just be what you need.

Tabata interval training is a high intensity four-minute workout. You might think that at just four minutes long, the workout can’t possibly be that great. But believe me when I say it is probably the hardest workout you’ll ever encounter and the most rewarding by far.

One four-minute tabata cycle includes 20 gut-wrenching seconds of a fast-moving, cardio-driven move (examples: burpees, frog jumps, squats, lunges, really anything that involves working your whole body) and a 10-second break right after. Do the same move again or a different one, depending on your cycle, for 20 seconds followed by another 10-second break. Rinse, wash and repeat for a total of eight times and viola, you're soaked in sweat, shaking and ready to quit. But keep in mind that you've only spent four minutes of your life.

If you take a whole tabata class, get ready to do another cycle with different moves again with just two minutes to rest between cycles. If your trainer is really relentless or if you’re looking to really push yourself, you might have another go after the second. If you don’t feel the burn and shake, you’re probably doing it wrong. However, for an added challenge, exchange the 10-second breaks for 10-second lunges or those dreaded planks.

Tabata has proven to be one of the most effective methods to whip your body into shape in record time. It brings your whole body to fatigue in literally seconds, whereas other workouts like Pilates brings one part of the body to fatigue after a number of reps. It also keeps your blood pumping and heart racing the whole four minutes of the cycle and not once can you let your body fully rest. Even in the ten seconds you have to rest, your breathing is catching up to your body and you’re mentally getting ready for the next set. It improves your anaerobic and aerobic systems and jump-starts your metabolism, all while being super time-effective.

I have a love/hate relationship with tabata, as most people do with working out. With tabata, it's difficult to stay at 100 percent after the first 40 seconds, and it’s so easy to just quit. But keep in mind that the benefits outweigh the costs immensely (say hello to flat abs) and the four minutes fly by.

For the busy college girl, tabata is the perfect way to achieve and maintain the body you want in record time. With every cycle you do, you're guaranteed to see results that will keep you coming back for more. Check your local gym for tabata classes. If they’re not offered, make some space in your dorm room or apartment and get your sweat on like no one's watching.

By: Michelle Chang | Image: Source

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