Tip: The 14-Minute Fat Incinerator

This now-classic training method only takes a warm-up and 4 minutes of really hard work. But it beats an hour of traditional cardio. Check it out.

Terrible Tabata

This is a four-minute workout consisting of 20 seconds of very high-intensity exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest. The original six-week study compared the effects of this method with those of a traditional 60-minute aerobic workout. The results surprised a lot of people.

The four-minute group performed the Tabata Protocol four days per week (16 total minutes), plus one additional 30-minute steady-state workout each week. The total work was 95 minutes for the week since each interval was preceded by a 10 minute warm-up. The aerobic group performed five 60-minute workouts (300 total minutes) per week.

The result? The aerobic group showed less than 10% improvement in aerobic capacity and no improvements in anaerobic capacity. The Tabata group showed a 14% improvement in aerobic capacity and a 28% improvement in anaerobic capacity, literally and figuratively knocking the wind out of the argument for long, slow, steady-state cardio.

How It Works

Set yourself up on an Airdyne, Assault Airbike, spinning cycle, or other stationary bike. You'll like the Airdyne-style of bike because it brings the upper body into the exercise and gives you escalating resistance – the faster you peddle, the greater the resistance.

  1. Set the monitor for 14 minutes: 10 minutes of steady-state as a warm-up, then 4 minutes of sprint intervals.
  2. Once you begin the intervals, make sure to peddle as fast as you possibly can for 20 seconds. The original study was conducted at 170% of VO2 Max, which requires a substantial effort.
  3. Rest for 10 seconds, then start the next 20-second sprint.
  4. Do 8 rounds, totaling 4 minutes.

Think of it as 20 seconds on, 10 seconds rest. Do that 8 times. If four minutes of Tabatas isn't the hardest thing you've ever done, you're doing them wrong.

Adam Vogel is the founder of Pure Performance Training, where he combines science and individualization to help people look better, improve athleticism, and eliminate chronic pain. Adam has coached professional athletes from the New England Patriots, Atlanta Thrashers, and New England Revolution.

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