Fitness in a Hurry: How To Double Your Results in Half The Time With A Metabolic Training Workout

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Wouldn’t it be great if we could get fit and healthy in just four minutes a day?

You may be thinking that this sounds a little too good to be true.

But, contrary to conventional wisdom, the best way to increase fitness and even burn fat is not through performing endless hours of drawn-out cardio exercise.

In fact, if you really want to get a better body, then very short intense workouts are actually the way to go, and as little as four minutes a day could well be enough to give you the results you’re after. This could be  great news for the millions of us out there who lead busy lives and find it difficult to fit structured exercise into our daily schedule.

What Exactly Is Metabolic Training?
Metabolic training refers to working at high intensity with structured periods of exercise and shorter periods of rest in an alternating circuit. These types of workouts break convention in that they amalgamate both weight training and cardio in one integrated exercise session. The result is a workout that keeps you seriously fit and boosts metabolism, enabling your body to continue burning fat for up to 48 hours after the workout has actually finished.

Fitness Results From Just Minutes, Not Hours
Whilst there are various different forms of metabolic training, one of the most popular, named after the Japanese doctor who developed the concept, is called Tabata Training. This type of training requires just 20 seconds of exercise, followed by 10 seconds of rest, performed consecutively, eight times. This amounts to just 4 minutes! That’s less time than it takes most people to even get dressed in the morning. But of course, there is a catch. Whilst you need only work for a mere fraction of the time of a traditional gym workout, you’ll need to work more than twice as hard. Flat-out effort is required, and if you find you can finish the eight sets of your chosen exercise with ease, you’re not performing the routine hard enough. In fact, you should be working at an intensity level that makes the last few sets virtually impossible. That’s because Tabata training is all about working at a maximal output level for short bursts, which leads to increased fitness and stimulates the body’s basal metabolic rate, thereby accelerating fat loss.

In a controlled scientific study led by Dr Tabata, two groups exercised for a total of 6 weeks. One group performed one hour of moderate to high intensity exercise, five days of the week, whilst the other group performed a mere 4 minutes of high-intensity exercise, five days a week. The group performing just 4 minutes a day amazingly increased both aerobic and anaerobic fitness levels in excess of the group training for an hour at a time.

So evidence shows that we can get fitter but what about other health benefits? Well, that’s looking good too. Dr. Tabata has forthcoming research showing that subjects are able to burn an extra 150 calories in the 12 hours immediately following exercise due to the EPOC effect (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption), which in layman’s terms, means that you will continue to burn calories even at rest. That’s certainly great news for those looking for fat loss. But Dr Tabata also found an improvement in the participants’ insulin sensitivity which is an essential factor for health and wellbeing. In fact, it may be responsible for helping to reduce our risk of developing health problems such as diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Should I Switch To Metabolic Training?
In Tabata’s clinical study, subject’s who followed 4 minutes of metabolic training reported that they not only enjoyed the exercise sessions but that they felt more inclined to stick with this form of exercise than those who simply ran on the treadmill for an hour. With exercise consistency being one of the most important factors for success, this in itself may be sufficient grounds to ditch your current exercise regiment and to start following a shorter metabolic training plan.

So next time you’re in the gym, try some basic body weight exercise like burpees, squat thrusts, mountain climbers or even just running, performed in a Tabata circuit. You don’t need any equipment and performed at the correct intensity, metabolic training will rapidly increase cardiovascular fitness and burn fat, revealing a fitter, healthier you in a fraction of the time – leaving you free to spend your time doing the things you really enjoy.

Written on 11/25/2013 by Mark Egan. Mark Egan is a certified personal trainer with MotivatePT and also a functional strength and conditioning coach. Mark helps clients to achieve their fitness goals through setting realistic and attainable exercise programs for busy professionals.

Photo Credit: Avery Watts

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