When Time Is Tight, It’s Tabata Time!

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Gymboss Interval Timer

If you’re anything like me, you usually are running short on time. I’ve got a to do list a mile long and even get things thrown at me all of a sudden. For some reason, it seems that middle school teachers can’t keep a schedule to save themselves. They make plans and then cancel them last minute or they suddenly make plans requiring you to change your schedule on a dime.

Because I don’t always have time in the evenings to squeeze in a long cardio session, I’ve had to find creative ways to get my workouts in. What I found really helpful is to split my workouts in half, and do one half in the morning and the other in the evening. Pretty much anyone (even a non-morning person) can find 20 minutes twice a day to get moving.

Tabatas are great for this purpose. What are tabatas? I’m glad you asked. They are short, intense intervals combined with short rest periods. Because they are so intense, they get your heart rate up quickly and you burn calories at a higher rate than just slow, steady cardio on a machine. I also like tabatas because the time seems to pass faster for me while doing them.

The official tabata intervals are 8 rounds of 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest. That’s a total of 4 minutes. You can pretty much get through anything intense for 20 seconds. I usually do 4 different exercise tabatas for a grand total of 16 minutes. If I can find 16 minutes in my morning and another 16 in the evening, I’m sure you can too.

There are tons of exercises for your tabatas based on your fitness level. The key is to push yourself as hard as you can for those 20 seconds. For everyone, this is a different level of exertion. For someone just starting, bodyweight squats might get the heart rate way up. For a more advanced exerciser, you may need to do all out sprints.

Some exercises I like to do for tabatas are rope jumping, burpees, mountain climbers, jumping jacks, dumbbell swings, bodyweight squats, and alternating lunges. I just pick 4 random exercises and do one tabata of each. Because tabatas get your heart rate up, they give you a little metabolism boost for a bit after you finish them. That metabolism boost translates into extra calories burned.

iphone rounds app

iPhone Rounds App

If you want to get fancy with your tabata timing, you can get a Gymboss interval timer to beep at you and let you know when your work times and rest times are starting. I also have an app for my iPhone called Rounds. The app has pre-programmed rounds for different intervals including tabatas, and also lets you set your own custom intervals.

The app is free and I’ve found tons of exercise uses for it. You can’t beat the price of free plus you can even use your own music as your tabata soundtrack. I’m sure there’s an app like it for Android too. So there are no more excuses for not having 45 minutes a day for cardio. You don’t need it.

Sixteen minutes, twice a day and you’re done. You’ll burn about the same calories as you would in about 45 minutes of less intense cardio. I’m all about the fast workouts so I can move on to the rest of my to do list. I’ve even been known to do my tabatas while watching TV. Give them a try and let me know what you think.

If you have questions on how to do tabatas or need more exercise ideas for them, let me know. Have you tried tabatas? What are some exercises you use?

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