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The skinny on Tabata - the hottest calorie-burning craze
by Jessica |  Sep 20, 2013

They say there are no shortcuts when it comes to getting fit - but Tabata is one calorie-torching exception to the rule.

Have you ever felt like no matter what you do, whether it's an hour on the stairmaster or a crazy number of crunches, you're just not seeing a difference? After a four-minute Tabata interval, you can ignite your resting metabolic rate so you burn more fat even when you're sitting on the couch. Still, that doesn't mean you won't work hard. On the contrary, since you're exercising in shorter spurts, you'll be exerting more energy and force than you even thought you had in you. Because Tabata can be done at home, it's highly convenient and low-cost. All you need is a timer, a trusty pair of sneakers and a tenacious attitude. Ready to trade an hour on the treadmill for four minutes of work?

The facts
Tabata is named after the Japanese professor Izumi Tabata, who developed this form of high-intensity interval training in the 1990s to train Olympic speed skaters. The circuit combines four-minute explosive moves done for 20 seconds each, eight times through. Between each round, you break for 10 seconds to catch your breath.

Don't be surprised if you feel a little dizzy, disoriented or downright nauseous after a few of the exercises - just listen to your body, take a rest and know that your sweat is not for nothing. According to Self magazine, exercise physiologist Dr. Michele Olson recently presented at The American College of Sports Medicine annual conference, and revealed that it would take five times the amount of traditional cardio to burn the number of calories you can with a four minute Tabata. What's more - your metabolic rate doubles for 30 minutes after the session is already over. 

The preparation
Remember: This method was created for Olympic athletes, so it's definitely not for amateurs. To be successful at Tabata, you should already be working out on a regular basis. In fact, Rachel Buschert, a Tabata instructor at Equinox in New York, told New York Daily News that you should be building up to it with aerobic fitness. She also said that twice a week is enough for this extreme form of exercise, and warned against doing it two days in a row. In between, Dr. Mark Kelly, an exercise physiologist with the American Council on Exercise, told the news outlet that it's best to have a well-rounded fitness program that focuses on strength and flexibility.

Make sure you're well hydrated before heading to a class or doing these moves at home. You'll also need some workout clothes that are designed for comfort and mobility. The zaggora flares 2.0 are made with a four-way stretch fabric so your knees are supported through all those plyometrics. Plus, the innovative fabric helps to blaze extra calories while you work.

The moves
The best part about Tabata is that it can be tailored to include whatever form of cardio is fun for you.

You can start by sprinting on a treadmill if that feels comfortable. Or, Olsen told Self that she likes incorporating squat jumps, which work your back as well as your abs. If you've had issues with your knees, you can even jump rope with high knees. The key, she says, is putting in 100 percent effort for those 20 seconds.

If spinning is your thing, try pedaling as fast as you can on a bike for lean, sculpted legs. Lunges are obviously a great option if you're looking to lift your rear, but why not kick things up a notch and try a jumping version?

If you have access to a trampoline, running in place is a great challenge to improve your balance while strengthening your core. You can always go back to mountain climbers, a tried-and-true move that tones your entire body.

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