We lead such busy lives these days it is hard to fit everything in. Who wants to spend hours slogging away in the gym when there are cocktails to be had while catch up with your favourite Belles? But most of us want to lose those elusive few pounds to make us bikini ready or wedding ready or date ready. Luckily it seems we don’t have to dedicate hours to dropping the pounds and toning up. There is a method that can have you fitter and lighter in just 4 minutes a day!
Fitness and Nutrition expert Nilufer Atik says: “High Intensity Interval Training (otherwise known as HIIT), any workout that alternates between intense bursts of activity and fixed periods of less-intense activity or sometimes complete rest, is a great way to burn fat fast as not only is it more time efficient, it super charges the metabolism so you continue to zap calories long after you have finished working out – up to 24 hours in fact. Studies have shown that you can burn more by doing just 15 minutes of high-intensity interval training three times a week than running for an hour for the same amount of days.
HIIT also pushes your body into the anaerobic zone of training – which means it is performed in the absence of oxygen. That’s why you feel like you can’t breathe. Athletes in non-endurance sports often train at this intensity to promote strength, speed and power. After a few weeks of HIIT workouts runners, for example, can run for twice as long at the same pace because their body uses the oxygen more efficiently. It basically helps your body adapt to continue working hard with less oxygen.
The types of exercise used in HIIT tend to be cardio based like running, cycling and rowing. But you can perform any plyometric (explosive) movements too like tuck jumps or burpees on the spot. Not only does it make workouts more time efficient, it prevents muscle breaking down too (thanks to an increase in the production of your human growth hormone) which is another huge plus when it comes to fat loss. The more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism will be, and the more calories you will burn daily. Steady cardio has been shown to break down muscle mass whereas HIIT doesn’t because it’s a shorter cardio workout.
There are many forms of high intensity interval training but one of the best and most effective methods is the Tabata Protocol. Tabata was created in Japan by sports professor Izumi Tabata who studied its amazing effect on a group of Olympic speed skaters. The athletes had to perform eight 20-second, all-out sprints on a stationary bike, each separated by ten seconds of rest. The total workout time came to four minutes – minus a ten-minute warm up first. The idea was that they worked at an all-out effort at 170% of their VO2 max (the maximum amount of oxygen the body can transport and use during exercise).
After doing the routine four days a week for six weeks, results showed that the athletes had boosted their aerobic fitness by 15% and improved their anaerobic capacity by 28%. By comparison, a second group, who performed at a steady but moderate pace on the bikes for an hour, increased their aerobic fitness by only 10 percent with no improvement in anaerobic capacity at all. This showed that the high intensity workout Dr Izumi devised was more effective than an hour of moderate cycling.
Even Professor Tabata has been surprised at the popularity of his method, especially as originally it wasn’t even his idea. “Coach Irisawa Koichi had me analyze the effectiveness of his training regime that involved a rotation of short burst of maximum effort followed by short periods of rest. Although Coach Irisawa pioneered the idea, somehow it became named after me. The idea has become bigger than I imagined and now if you search this on Google, you will get about 200,000 hits,” he said.
Whats more, a study in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that just two weeks of high-intensity aerobic interval training increases the capacity for fat oxidation during exercise in women.
“When performed properly, Tabata actually can’t physically be done for more than four minutes before you reach the point of throwing up! But nowadays most fitness professionals tend to water it down for clients – by making the speed less intense and extending the time of the workout, usually to around twenty minutes. This is mainly because it is too intense for most beginners or moderate level exercisers, and also because it is hard to calculate Vo2 max in individuals without the proper equipment. Tabata can be done using the same exercise for each circuit, two exercises repeated four times, four exercises repeated twice through or eight separate exercises.”
Here fitness and training expert Nilufer Atik has devised a Tabata workout you can do at home. Just perform each exercise at maximum speed for twenty seconds exactly – getting as many reps in as you can within that time – rest for ten seconds, then move on to the second exercise for twenty seconds, rest again for ten seconds, and so on. Once you have completed all eight exercises, you’re done with your four-minute workout. Good luck!
1. Knee highs
Standing on the spot, raise one knee then the other up to waist height in front of you as fast as you can. Keep your shoulders back and back upright and use your arms in a running motion to help.
2. Tuck Jumps
Jump up into the air, bringing your knees forward while tucking your legs under you (heels up to buttocks) and punch both arms forward. Land and jump straight back up again.
3. Box Jumps
With feet hip distance apart and toes pointing forward, squat down as though about to sit in a chair, keeping your chest up, shoulders back, and bum pushed back slightly. In squat position, jump forward with both feet, swinging your arms forwards and backwards simultaneously. Stay squatting the whole time.
4. Side-to-side Hops
With feet hip distance apart, take a jump to the right and hop onto the right leg then over onto the left leg.
5. Speed Runs
On the spot, run as fast as you can, opening and closing your legs as you go.
6. Dynamic Squats
Start standing with arms straight up above you, either side of your head. Then sit down and back into a squat position as you swing the arms forward and back then swing back up above your head as you stand again. Keep squatting down and up.
Begin in a crouching squat position with hands on the floor in front of you and knees up to your chest. Kick your feet back into a push up position so your body is in a straight line. Immediately bring your feet back in and knees to your chest then jump up into the air as high as you can. Come back down into the deep squat and repeat.
8. Mountain Climbers
Get into a push-up position, with hands just outside shoulder distance apart, fingers pointing out to the sides slightly, and arms straight. Only your hands and toes should be on the floor and your body should be raised in a straight line from your head to your ankles. Without changing the posture of your lower back (which should be slightly arched without dipping in) raise your right knee toward your chest. Pause, return to the start position, then repeat with your left leg. Keep alternating legs.
Nilufer offers individual and group training and nutrition plans. Go to www.nilufera5training.com