Think You’re In Shape? Better Think Again!

So you can jog for an hour. You can benchpress 180 pounds. you go to aerobics class 3 times a week and you hardly get out of breath during class. Does that mean you’re fit? Are you in good shape? Let me tell you what muay thai fighters in Thailand do six days a week (maybe five if one day is fight-day):

1. Wake up.

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2. Run 20 kilometers

3. Do padwork for an hour.

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4. Sparr for half an hour.

5. Do strength training for half an hour.

6. Eat, rest, eat.

7. Do points 2 – 4 all over again.

8. Eat

9. Sleep

Still think you’re in excellent shape? But let’s not go to such extremes. I’d like to challenge you to a sixteen minute workout (I’ll describe it soon). Surely someone as fit as you will be able to do a mere sixteen minutes of exercise without hardly breaking a sweat right? The workout consists of four four-minute rounds during each of which you will be doing the following with maximum (and I mean maximum) intensity:

1. Twenty seconds of burpees with pushup and jump (knees touching the chest)

2. Ten seconds of rest

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3. Twenty seconds of high knee skips

4. Ten seconds of rest

5. Twenty seconds of mountain climbers

6. Ten seconds of rest

7. Twenty seconds of in-place jumps with knees touching the chest

8. Ten seconds of rest

9. Repeat 1 – 8 one more time

You may take 30 seconds to catch your breath (if necessary) between the rounds. Try it. I think you’ll like it. Still think you’re in excellent shape?

This highly efficient way of working out is called tabata intervals after its inventor Dr. Izumi Tabata. His 1997 study compared the training results of two groups. The first group performed steady state training (70 % of VO2-max) five times a week. The other group performed 4 minutes of tabata intervals (170 % of VO2-max) 4 times a week and an additional day of steady state training. The groups obtained equal results, increasing their maximal oxygen uptake by 13 % in six weeks! By the way, these results were obtained in Olympic speed skaters who were already in pretty good shape.

Regardless of whether you’re a muay thai fighter, an Olympic speed skater or a regular person wanting to shed some weight and get in shape, tabata intervals can help you achieve your fitness goals.

Always consult a physician before starting any exercise regimen or diet. If you’re just starting out (the person wanting to shed some weight and get in shape) then start slow and work your way up.