Athletic young woman showing muscles on hands

When my children were infants I tried everything to squeeze in exercise. I would take the baby monitor outside or put the babies in the stroller and walk around my driveway. As they grew, I graduated to walking around the local baseball or softball fields. I bought exercise videos and tried, not very successfully, to get them to work out with me.

If only someone had told me back then about Tabata.

Tabata training is based on studies performed in 1996 by a Japanese scientist named Dr. Izumi Tabata, whose related work initially involved Olympic speedskaters. Dr. Tabata found “high-intensity interval training has more impact on both the aerobic and anaerobic systems."

Tabata is short-term, high-intensity training. Basically, you choose five exercises: jumping jacks, tricep curls, jogging in place, punching in place and sit-ups, for example. You complete a circuit in 20 minutes, and each exercise is performed as quickly as possible in eight sets that each last 20 seconds, with a 10-second break between sets. That’s four minutes for each exercise, for a total of 20 minutes that is worth an hour of workout time.

My children are older now, so I do have more time to work out, but sometimes I just want to sit and binge watch “Game of Thrones” or “Blacklist.” Now I can watch TV and still work out with just my phone as a stopwatch.

You can choose whatever exercise you feel you need for your body type. If 20 minutes is too long, you can begin with four minutes, or you may find you need more break time in between each exercise — whatever works.

My water aerobics class incorporates Tabata. We do four exercises for four minutes with a one-minute break between. This is another way to do it. I am a swimmer, and while researching this article I found out you can do Tabata for laps as well via Active.com/Fitness/Articles/What-is-Tabata-Training. I have never tried it, but next time I am swimming I am going to give it a go. I hope you try it, too.

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