The end of the summer always has that going-back-to-school feeling — you know your long, sunny days are dwindling, while sleeveless boozy brunches and weekend trips to the beach are going to come to an all-out halt. But September feels like starting fresh, even if you’re not going back to school. So it’s the prime time to take advantage: Use the momentum of summer’s ending and fall’s beginning to jump back into a fitness regimen. We’re not telling you to sign up for a 10K or hit up your local CrossFit for hour-long, I’m so-sore-I-can’t-walk-to-work sessions. But, we are asking you for four minutes (yes, just four).
Recent research out of Auburn Montgomery University found that a four-minute workout routine can be as effective as five times the amount of traditional cardio. Translation: You can either slog your way through a morning jog as the weather gets colder, or you can do a quickie four-minute routine from your bedroom. Tabata is a method of alternating between 20 seconds of maximum effort followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated for a total of eight times.
In the study, the participants who performed body-weight squat jumps during a four-minute circuit burned 13.5 calories per minute and doubled their metabolic rate for 30 minutes afterward. “Having limited time, or not enough willpower, to do long sessions doesn’t mean you can’t get in a good workout,” says study author Michele Olson, PhD. Just don’t slack off for even 10 seconds, because the benefits will drop considerably, she says. With only four minutes of your precious time, every minute counts.
Get your four-minute fix with the moves ahead, created by Amanda Young, a group fitness instructor at Equinox in New York City. For each move, alternate between doing 20 seconds of maximum effort and 10 seconds of rest. Repeat for a total of eight times. That’s it: Four minutes, then hit the showers. “The beauty of Tabata is that it can be done anywhere and with any moves, making the body more efficient in much less time,” says Young. Ease into this routine by perfecting one move; then, each week, increase your workout time by adding in another move from the list. After a month, you’ll be able to do all four moves together — and still clock in under 20 minutes. So bid adieu to the dog days of summer and say hello to a stronger, fitter you this fall.