It has a funny name, solid scientific credentials — and may be the world’s best short workout. It’s the Tabata Protocol, a regimen lasting just 11 minutes that’s named for the Japanese researcher who developed it. The best thing? You don’t need any fancy equipment to do it, just a watch and a few minutes of studying the following info.First, warm up for five minutes by, say, pedaling slowly on a stationary bike. Second, pedal as hard as you can for 20 seconds. Third, coast for 10 seconds. Repeat this 30-second cycle seven more times, for four minutes total. Lastly, cool down for two minutes, then hit the showers. You’re done.
The benefits of Tabata are that it helps the body use oxygen more efficiently, improves aerobic conditioning and boosts production of hormones that build lean muscle, says Pete McCall, an exercise physiologist with the American Council on Exercise in San Diego. You can Tabata on a stationary bike, a running track or even doing body-weight calisthenics in your living room, McCall says. You don’t even have to call it Tabata — high-intensity interval training (or HIIT) is the generic term.
The Equinox nationwide fitness chain offers classes in many big cities, and knowledgeable personal trainers often incorporate HIIT into their fitness programs. McCall emphasizes, however, that Tabata is only for people who are already in good shape. The advice about consulting a physician before starting an exercise program goes double here. He adds, “I’d recommend doing this no more than two times a week, because it’s really high intensity.”