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Try This 4-Minute Workout!

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Have you ever read or seen somewhere that you can exercise for just 4-minutes a day and be in the best shape of your life and have all your dreams come true?

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You probably have, or at least some equally intriguing version of that. While it’d be nice if a 4-minute workout was truly the best thing you could do for your health, anything that seems too good to be true probably is. Anyone who’s ever been successful at anything will likely tell you that the key is hard work, dedication, and consistency. So unfortunately, there’s probably a reason that a workout 82% shorter than Stig Severinsen can hold his breath isn’t going to cut it.

But if you are still interested in that 4-minute workout, here’s all you have to do:

The 4-Minute Workout

The study from which the 4-minute workout trend eventually evolved had participants work at intense, 20 second bursts of effort, followed by 10 seconds of rest for a total of 8 rounds (8(20+10)=240 seconds = 4 minutes. Math FTW!).

To strip away the scientific minutia and present the study simply, first the participant’s maximum oxygen uptake was determined (maximum = 100%). Keep in mind that 100% effort is such exhaustingly hard work that athletes often vomit from the exertion. Now imagine that the 20 second work interval is applied at 170% of this level of exertion (that’s bold and italic, for those of you not paying close attention – that means it’s important). 170%. 70% harder than your maximum. Then repeat that same level of exertion for the complete 8 rounds. That is the work required in order for the findings of the original study to be relevant and for you to work out for just 4-minutes a day. Still sound good?

Tabata protocolNot so glamorous.

It’s Not Just Physical

Most people are unwilling or unable to push themselves to, let alone past, the point of exhaustion, in which case a 4-minute workout is not the answer. But to play devil’s advocate, let’s say that you are physically able to push yourself that hard for that entire 4-minute protocol. The study participants did it 4 times per week. Mentally, do you see yourself doing that 4 times each week? How many times do you think you would be willing do it before you got tired of (potentially) vomiting on yourself and just stopped doing it altogether? Therein lies the point. No matter how effective a workout might be, if you’re not doing it, it’s not going to work.

There Has To Be Another Way!

For many, it takes little more than the possibility of exercise-induced vomiting to have us looking for an alternative. Exercise doesn’t have to, nor should it, be torturous. (And if you’re one of the people who think so, maybe you just haven’t found the right form, yet). Luckily, there’s no shortage of exercise options.So if a 4-minute workout isn’t the answer, what is? The best thing you can do for exercise is whatever you’ll do consistently. Yup, that’s it, your golden nugget of wisdom. If the thought of spending an hour pretending to ride up hills on a stationary bike holds no appeal, spinning might not be your best bet. But if you love the thought of taking out your aggression on a punching bag, try boxing!

 

You Are A Unique Snowflake

Your background, your story, your situation, is unique to you. It’s what makes you, you. And as such, what works for you may not work for another person and vice versa. Your background in high-level sports may make the competitive nature of Crossfit seem like a natural fit. Or maybe the fact that you spend all day around other people makes the thought of going for a solo run seem really appealing. Presuming you are performing your chosen form of exercise safely and under the guidance of a professional (when applicable), the form of exercise that you’ll do is better than any form you won’t do.

It’s going to be a process to get from where you are now to wherever you want to be. It’s important to set small, incremental goals to get you moving (pun intended in hindsight) in the right direction. For most, your first priority should simply be moving more than you have been in the past.

Focus on a long-term outlook and recognize that the “best way” is the way you’ll keep doing consistently enough to see results, and enjoy enough to sustain for a lifetime.

Keep An Open Mind Neon open mind

Sustaining an active lifestyle long-term is ideal and you are in no way limited to just one form of exercise. Once you’re moving consistently, and dare I say, enjoying it, you’ll be more likely to branch out and try new things. Maybe a new friend from yoga also attends a rock climbing gym and you tag along and love it! Maybe your running group has signed up for a mud run instead of a road race and you decide you’re game!

Not only does Whatever You’ll Do Consistently help get you closer to your personal goals, the increase in confidence you’ll experience from just being consistent will snowball into even more positive changes in multiple aspects of your life.

References

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8897392

http://robertsontrainingsystems.com/blog/The-Tabata-Myth/

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