Ok, kids, rally around, because I’ve got a real barn-burner of a workout for you. Tabata- the fastest and most effective fat burning workout you’ll ever use.
Note: This routine is forbidden for absolute beginners. No newbie’s allowed – you’ve got to have a basic competence level in fitness to play this game (but don’t despair! We have plenty of resources for the neophyte in the second part of this article).
On with the show!
You know the drill, folks – first the science, then the workout (all disinterested parties can skip the heady stuff and scroll to the end of the article for the workout).
An informal survey of the clientele Mike and I have worked with over the years reveals that the numero uno reason most people don’t exercise is time – as in, “I don’t have enough time in the day to spend 5 minutes using the bathroom.”
To each his own elimination habits, I guess.
Well, certainly to the harried, busy individual with nary a moment to spend, spending an hour every day at the gym is downright impossible. But certainly anyone can carve out 7.5 minutes in their day to complete their quota of sufficiently rigorous fat burning exercise (except our aforementioned bathroom time-challenged client).
Enter: The 7.5 Minute Fat Burning Workout
Thank Dr. Izumi Tabata of the National Institutes of Fitness and Sport in Tokyo for this workout. In 1996, Dr. Tabata published a groundbreaking study that showed the effectiveness (and superiority) of high intensity interval training.
By working his athlete-subjects intensely for 20 second spurts and allowing them a 10 second rest period, Dr. Tabata was able to squeeze incredible improvements in both aerobics and anaerobic fitness (28% and 14%, respectively) from already conditioned athletes.
Not bad for four minutes of workout time (yes, four minutes).
Of course, Dr. Tabata’s work has been expanded upon in the last decade and it’s now well established in exercise science that brief, intense workouts pack a bigger punch than their longer, less intense counterparts (not to mention that they take a whole lot less time as well).
So if Dr. Tabata’s research suggests that a four minute workout is all it takes to deliver solid results, why does this workout take 7 and a half minutes?
For two highly compelling reasons:
1. Dr. Tabata killed his athletes. Their prescribed workloads were 170% of their max (and I don’t know about you, but I certainly wouldn’t be looking forward to a workout that required I perform at nearly double my work capacity). It is reported in the study text that the athletes literally ended up on the floor after each bout of data collection.
2. See #1.
To make this workout fall back into the realm of reality (and to make it useable with clients), Mike and I adapted Dr. Tabata’s intervals and scaled the workloads. Add a bit of progressive strength training to the mix and you’ve got:
The “Tabata Push-Pull” Workout
The Basics. We use Dr. Tabata’s interval format of 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off. In other words, go all-out (or close to it) for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds.
Pick two complementary exercises that require very little change/set up between them, and perform alternating intervals of each for 7 rounds, or until you’re “shot.”
“Hey, that’s only 7 minutes.”
The extra 30 seconds? Use them before the intervals for a quick warmup – some bodyweight squats and/or pushups work well.
This workout works well in many different permutations, but we’ve found the Tabata format works best with exercises of opposing functions (hence, the workout’s moniker).
I’ve compiled four of our favorite combinations here:
Dumbbell Squat/Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift
Some performance notes:
1. Take it easy on weight, especially if you’re doing this for the first time. A weight that feels ridiculously easy during the second interval will have you on the floor by minute 7.
2. Try to keep a steady work rate and max out on reps – push yourself. Remember, Dr. Tabata’s subjects worked at 170% of their maxes. While you shouldn’t push yourself nearly that hard, you should look to push yourself past your perceived limits – you’ve got goals to achieve, and you’ll only get out what you put into the exercise.
3. While it’s far from necessary, it helps to have a workout partner to act as both a motivator and a bean counter. Keeping track of reps gets tough once fatigue sets in, but is doable (after all, you’ve got 10 seconds to write down reps in your workout log between work intervals).
Benchmarks. How do we judge progression on this exercise? After all, it’s gotta be measurable if we’re to hold ourselves accountable to our goals.
A rough guideline that works reasonably well is Total Tonnage – simply multiply the weight you used by the total number of reps you performed.
Ex. Mike chooses the Dumbbell Squat/DB Romanian Deadlift combo and picks up the 35 pounders.
Rd 1: 10/10
Rd 2: 10/10
Rd 3: 10/8
Rd 4: 9/7
Rd 5: 6/8
Rd 6: 7/6
Rd 7: 6/5
Total: 58/54 – 112 total reps with 70 pounds
His Total Tonnage for that workout would be 7840 (112 X 70).
To record progression, simply try increasing Total Tonnage.
Important: Compare apples to apples! In other words, don’t compare Total Tonnage for a Squat/Deadlift workout with Total Tonnage for a Dip/Pullup workout – Total Tonnage.
Comparisons are valid for like workouts only.
Okay, your excuses about not having enough time to get in a good fat-burning workout?
Immediately canceled. (Tsoii!) And don’t say I didn’t warn you.
For a thorough program that includes all the high intensity cardio you could possibly handle, and more, take a look at our Man on a Mission program- everything you need to quickly build a lean, healthy, energetic body.
3 Fat Burning Workout Routines for the Hotel Room: Your Travel Workouts
Do you ever wonder if those fat burning diet gurus and late-night infomercial hucksters actually follow their own recommendations?
I mean, can you really, honestly see Suzanne Somers pumping away on her Thighmaster, or Tony Little on a Gazelle, furiously sweating away in his basement? How about so-called “diet gurus” like Dr. Phil who haven’t seen their own feet since they were in grade school?
But I digress. I guess I’m testy since I’ll be getting a taste of my own medicine this week. Currently, I’m sitting in a Hyatt in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with a fully-functioning gym/fitness room.
Of course, one man’s “fully-functioning” is another man’s “barely functional.” And as I survey the hotel’s weight training selection (with nothing heavier than a 35 lb dumbbell in sight), I think to myself,
“This is going to be an interesting challenge.”
What’s a fellow addicted to lifting heavy things to do for fitness?
The answer: Use leverage to get around the lack of heavy things, or work on different aspects of the game.
Since the dry desert air has been keeping me up at night, I decided to craft three fat burning workouts for you, the busy Man on a Mission. I had a lot of fun test-driving them and hope you enjoy every excruciating minute as much as I did.
While all of these workouts are based on the development of separate, specific attributes, they all have three things in common:
1. They can all be done in your typical hotel fitness center or your own hotel room.
2. They all dramatically increase your metabolic output, causing you to burn fat faster.
3. They are all short (time-wise) workouts. In fact, workout three is only 7.5 minutes long!
Note: All these workouts work better if you have access to some weights (even limited weights), but all is not lost if you don’t. I’ve written in “weights-less” alternatives where applicable.
Ready to go? Let’s proceed to the Fat Burning Workouts
Workout One: Strength-Based
This workout is designed to increase your lean muscle. As we’ve written about previously, increasing muscle mass is the best way to increase your metabolism, so you’ll burn more calories throughout the day.
Increasing muscle mass is a combination of two factors: intramuscular tension and accumulated by-products of fatigue. In other words, you have to create high levels of tension in the muscle by making it work hard, and you’ve gotta feel a burn.
This workout calls for concentration and effort – so be sure to use resistances that feel “tough.”
Using weights that feel like a challenge to you, perform the above as listed, in that order. Repeat the series three times or until muscular exhaustion occurs.
If muscular exhaustion occurs on any given exercise, you’re done on that one. Move on to the next.
Use the resistance (i.e. weights) used to track your progression.
As always, if you’re confused as to how to perform a given exercise, check our library of how to videos and form checklists in Man on a Mission for clarification.
Workout Two: Metabolic Conditioning
This workout is designed to maximize EPOC. Mike’s already written fairly extensively on the fat-burning benefits of EPOC, but let me summarize. Maximizing the overall work effort maximizes calorie burn, both during AND after the workout.
You should move quickly during this workout; don’t dilly-dally! Take as little rest as possible. It’s only 15 minutes long, so you can rest afterwards.
Set your timer to 15 minutes. If you don’t have a timer, use the wall clock or clock radio in your room.
Perform the maximum number of circuits (without resting) of the following:
Use total number of circuits completed to track your progression.
And no, 10 rounds is NOT impossible. Enjoy!
Workout Three: Interval-Based
Workout numero tres delivers the strength and muscle-building benefits of workout one and combines it with the conditioning effects of workout two.
Needless to say, it delivers quite the punch! It’s based off of the Tabata Push-Pull workout and is better left to readers who are already “fighting fit.” But hey, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Choose one of the listed pairs and perform them in a Tabata interval, i.e.,
Perform a 30 second warm up – body weight squats or push ups work well – then,
Do the first exercise for 20 seconds. Rest for 10 seconds (and pick up the weight for the second exercise).
Perform the second exercise for 20 seconds. Rest for 10 seconds (and pick up the weight for the first exercise).
Repeat for 7 minutes total.
Use the Total Tonnage method described in the Tabata Push-Pull article to track progression.
Remember to choose a weight that feels “moderate” for this one – it gets tough!
So there you go!
Three workouts, three different ways to keep your fat-burning efforts alight while you’re on the road.
Choose your medicine wisely and take your iron pill. No excuses now. Now if you all will excuse me, there’s a post-workout recovery shake on the counter that requires my urgent attention…
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Want to know our secrets? The best of the best tips and tricks we’ve accumulated over the years and countless hours of client contact? We’ve collected them in a tight little volume called Man on a MIssion. Interested? Curious as a newborn kitty? You can read more about it here.