Oslo by Robic stopwatches look like M&Ms!

Four minutes. There’s really nothing you can’t do for just four minutes. You can listen to Justin Bieber sing with Ludacris, or you can toast a bagel and pick a shmear, or you can read a couple pages of Snooki’s novel A Shore Thing before you go all Oedipal on everyone’s ass and gouge your eyes out with a brooch.

Well, guess what? There’s a type of workout that spikes your metabolism and keeps it up for DAYS and all it takes is four minutes.

Say whaaaat?

This workout is a variation of metabolic training which I talked about in last week’s post, and it’s called Tabata training. The idea behind Tabata is to go balls-to-the-wall for a short period of time, eight times, with little rest in between each set. It combines aerobic and anaerobic training, thus building strength and endurance.  A good place to start is to do as many reps as you can in 20 seconds, and rest for ten seconds. Do eight sets.

The beauty of Tabata is that you can customize it to death to make it give you exactly the results you want, like a workout sundae, and you get to pick all the toppings. For lean muscles, use lighter dumbbells or just your body weight; for bulk, add more weight. You can add as many exercises as you want, adding four minutes for each exercise. My friend Arthur and I did decide it was pointless torture to do more than one exercise for the same muscle group in one workout, but it is super effective to target all the muscles in one body part: for legs, do calves, quads, hamstrings, and glutes. It’s also nice to train with another person so you can have them keep track of time and the number of sets, and then switch.

Finally, while researching this post, I came across a particularly exciting Tabata tip I hadn’t thought of: apply it to cardio! I can’t stand sprints because they make me want to ralph, but my brother Cole “The Machine” Anderson swears by them, so I knew the day would come when I would have to give them a solid effort. I haven’t tried it yet, so anyone who beats me to it, keep me posted. Just put on your favorite song by Girl Talk, get moving, and you’ll be finished before your iPod has time to shuffle. Four minutes can’t be too bad, right?

Lower-body Tabata Workout (add weights, kettlebells or medicine ball as you see fit.)

Leg Extensions

Hamstring Curls

Ab Twists: seated, feet off the ground, lean back and twist side to side, either touching the ground on each side or use a medicine ball.

Back Extensions: start off with less than eight sets. As you get stronger, add more sets

Dead Lifts: do these on a step, if you can, so the weight never rests on the floor and you’re always working your muscles.

Remember, it’s not the point to completely recover in between sets; ten seconds is all you get. Take that into consideration when you’re choosing your weights. For those ten seconds, though, make sure you are completely resting: put down the weights.