You Won't Believe How Short This Expert Says Your Workout Can Be

POPSUGAR Photography | Kat Borchart
POPSUGAR Photography | Kat Borchart

To lose weight, you don't always need to spend hours at the gym. In fact, HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, has been proven to be one of the best ways to burn more calories and target belly fat. But just how short can you get? Try just four minutes, according to Tabata program director and head coach of Lock Box LA PJ Stahl. According to PJ, the length of just one Tabata cycle is enough to see the results that the interval-training technique is known for, including fat loss, improved metabolism, and better endurance. "You only do one Tabata four-minute protocol in your entire workout," PJ says. "The reason that the Tabata program works is because I designed it to utilize 20 seconds of beyond-maximum intensity followed by 10 seconds of rest for eight rounds, totaling to four minutes," he explains. The trick is in the 20 seconds, during which you are supposed to exercise past your metabolic threshold — in other words, an 11 on a one-to-10 scale of rate of perceived exertion.

Wondering how often you should sweat it out in a four-minute intense Tabata cycle? Here are PJ's suggestions:

  • Novice (someone new to exercise or returning to exercise): start with once a week and add when you are ready.
  • Intermediate (someone who has been exercising at least six months and has had some experience in HIIT, bodyweight and core training, and ploymetrics): start with once or twice a week and add more when you are ready.
  • Advanced (someone who has been exercising six months or more and has experience in the above styles of training): start with twice a week and add more when you are ready.
  • Athlete (someone who has been exercising at least one year or more and has experience with Tabata): start with two to three times a week and add more when you are ready.

Of course, you don't have to stop your workout once you're done with your Tabata cycle, but if you're ready to try this technique, check out a few of our Tabata workouts here!