Yes, you read that correctly, and no it is not an infomercial for some weird exercise equipment or workout DVD. Rather it is the completely customizable Tabata interval. If you have never heard of the Tabata Protocol, here is the gist of it: Each exercise consists of 20 seconds of high intensity effort (aka as hard as you can possibly go), followed by 10 seconds of rest, which is then repeated for a total of 8 cycles (which is 4 minutes). Incorporating 4 different exercises into this interval, will give you a killer workout in just 16 minutes. The Tabata interval can be used for cardio or resistance training. And while this protocol can certainly be followed at the gym using equipment, I typically find myself using it on days when I do not have time to get to the gym. Here is my favorite leg workout done to the Tabata interval, which does not require the use of ANY equipment, or much space (i.e. – easily done in your home or on a small patch of grass if you prefer).
Exercise 1: Burpees with Vertical Jump – Start standing straight up. Squat down and place your hands on the floor/ground next to your feet. Thrust your feet out behind you so that you are in a push-up position. Jump your legs back forward towards your hands, and then jump up. Here is a video if you need a visual. Use the second example, and don’t add the push-up as this is a leg workout and we want to get as many burpee reps in to that 20 seconds as possible!
Exercise 2: Calf Raises – Pushing through the ball of your foot, raise your heels off the ground. Pause and flex your calf muscles at the top of the movement. Lower. Repeat.
Exercise 3: Alternating Lunge Jumps – Stand with one leg in front of the other in a lunge position. Squat down, almost touching your back knee to the floor/ground. From that position, jump up, switch leg position in the air, and land softly into another lunge. Repeat. This one is always a struggle for me! Here is a video if you need a visual.
Exercise 4: Bodyweight Squats – Make sure you are getting low enough!
When I do this routine, I do 4 minutes of burpees, followed by 4 minutes of calf raises, and so on. However, feel free to cycle through them instead in order to give your muscles more of a break if needed. I.e – one set of burpees, one set of calf raises, one set of alternating lunge jumps, one set of squats, and repeat for 16 minutes.
Have you ever used the Tabata protocol before? If so, what exercises do you do to it? What are your other favorite workouts you do when you are crunched for time?