How Tabata Training can warm you this winter

As someone raised in Chicago in the US, I still chuckle when I hear people complain “I’m so cold” during an Australian winter. Cold in Australia? Hardly.   

But there I was last week sitting at my kitchen table, writing away … and freezing. After desk jockeying for three hours, I had become a hypocrite. Not moving my body, my blood wasn’t circulating. I was icy cold.

The same thing occurred the next day; I was shaking. But instead of whining, I decided to challenge myself by moving my body.

I went outside by the water at Barangaroo and got my heart pumping and my blood flowing with three Tabata Training circuits. The result was feeling fit and loaded with energy. In no time at all, I was warm from head to toe.

Put down the Thredbo schnapps, because Tabata Training is just the tonic to get us out of the winter health and fitness rut.

Tabata Training founder Dr Izumi Tabata found that periods of high intensity training, followed by short periods of rest, improved individuals’ VO2 Max (the body’s ability to use oxygen more effectively).

Further, Tabata Training improves not only anaerobic fitness (short exertion/high intensity type activities) but also aerobic fitness (endurance activities like long-distance running or cycling).

How does it work?  

Here it is in its simplest form:


Eight rounds of 20 seconds of an exercise (at least 8/10 on the intensity scale), followed by 10 seconds of rest. This simple circuit only lasts four minutes.

Personally, I need a new challenge, and I’m hoping Fairfax readers will join me – even I need the support, eh?  

A few weeks back, I had my birthday weekend in Sydney, and I hammered through it with a lion’s share of drinks, food, and hedonistic fun. I saved my birthday present for a weekend away in Byron Bay … utilising the same recipe. So I’m ripe for a bit of healthy, warming activity.

If you’re freezing your way through winter, let’s start warming your body. Join my 20-Day Tabata Challenge for two reasons:

1. Warm your body, heat up your life, and

2. Winter’s food and fitness creates your summer body.

Why am I such a fan of Tabata?

1. Tabata is suitable for men and women;

2. High intensity bodyweight movements are great for weight loss and toning;

3. Tabata requires little to no equipment;

4. Tabata is efficient for the busy and time poor; and

5. Tabata gets us all sweating, swearing, and laughing…the qualities that make up a good workout.

There are infinite ways to design a Tabata session. So instead of choosing one exercise, I’ll mix and match to make it fun and varied.

This was my Barangaroo circuit, and it’s easy to copy.

Five minute jog to get warm, followed by:

1. Squats into push-ups (20 seconds of squats, 10 seconds of rest; 20 seconds of push-ups, 10 seconds of rest; repeat four times)

2. Skipping rope into burpees

3. Lunges into sit-ups

I was feeling toasty warm in just 20 minutes. And being out in the cold has its benefits. University of Utah researchers concluded that basal (resting) metabolic rate increases in cold temperatures, because staying warm requires your body to work harder.

A warm Tabata Training session followed by warm chocolate cake just won’t cut it, so if we are going to change your fitness, let’s change what’s in your fridge.  

Train healthy, eat healthy

Your 20 Days of Fitness has to be matched with 20 Days of Healthy Food.  I won’t ask for a complete overhaul, but I will ask:

1. What are three naughty eating habits you can drop?

2. What are three healthy eating habits you can adopt?

Write those six items down. While it might not seem like a lot, if you can commit to those changes you can make serious improvements to your diet in just 20 days.

Put a halt to the mid-winter gluttony and let’s start toning your body - not only for summer beach days, but also for your health.

August 1 is Day 1 of my 20 Days of Tabata Training Challenge. Drop me a note to get on board. It’s free, fun, and it’s going to feel good.

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