Saturday, May 26 , 2018, 3:36 pm | Fair and Breezy 70º


Traver Boehm: Got 4 Minutes? Then You Have Time to Get in a Workout

Tabata sets can help maintain an exercise routine when the schedule doesn't allow for a full workout

The majority of our private clients at Crossfit Pacific Coast are in a position where they have to travel for work and travel quite a bit. This can be problematic when trying to stick to an exercise routine, but it’s definitely not a deal-breaker.

One of the most common questions that Eric (co-owner of CPC) and I are asked is, “What’s a quick and effective workout that I can do when I’m on the road?” This a great question, and the answer can be applied to any situation where equipment and time may be limited but the need to workout is not.

Will you get the same kind of results from a four-minute workout as a 30-minute workout? It’s a fair question with a complicated answer. To keep things simple, let’s just say no. That being said, can this four-minute workout help keep you in shape during those times when you are unable to dedicate a full hour to your fitness? Absolutely. Can it be repeated with different movements in order to work separate muscle groups? It sure can. The possible combination of movements is limitless. What stays consistent is just how challenging of a workout you can get if you have less than five minutes.

Japanese scientist Dr. Izumi Tabata first pioneered the concept of an eight-round workout consisting of 20 seconds of all-out effort followed by 10 seconds of rest. He found that the athletes training under this methodology were able to make gains far superior to athletes who were training at a much lower intensity level for longer time periods. (He has since been both revered and cursed with equal intensity by coaches and athletes alike.)

Short, intense with superior results? Sign me up!

Tabata sets can be used for any movement from push-ups and sit-ups with repetitions being counted, to running or rowing with distance being the marker. For beginner to intermediate athletes, I recommend sticking to body weight exercises, as the intensity level should be high. Such movements include push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups, air squats, lunges, burpees, mountain climbers and the like.

Now, here’s the caveat. Give yourself a score for each Tabata set by counting the number of repetitions performed or distance traveled for each round, but use the lowest number of repetitions that you were able to perform in the given 20 seconds as your score for the set. For example: if you’re doing push-ups and get 20 in the first round, 15 in the second through seventh rounds and then are able to get only three push-ups in the last round, then guess what? You get a score of 3 for that workout. The next time you do Tabata push-ups, the goal is to beat that 3 score.

For more advanced athletes, working in more complex movements such as pull-ups, jump lunges, push presses, overhead squats, lightly weighted backsquats and the like will add strength focus to the workout if you have access to the necessary equipment.

If you feel that there are movements that you’re interested in performing in a Tabata set such as an L-Sit or L-Hang from a pull up bar, but 20 seconds straight is simply too much time, the time frame can also be reversed. Although this is an easier version, which can also be applied for people who are severely deconditioned, switching from 20 seconds of work with 10 seconds of rest to 10 seconds of work with 20 seconds of rest is also an option.

If you have more than four minutes, feel free to stack a few of these sets on top of each other with a minute of rest between them. For example: Eight rounds of air squats with a minute break followed by eight rounds of push-ups and one last eight-round set of sit-ups will work your body from head to toe and leave you gasping for air — in less than 15 minutes.

Have at it.

— Traver Boehm is co-owner and coach at Crossfit Pacific Coast, has a master’s degree in Chinese medicine, is a licensed acupuncturist at Alki Wellness, and a nutrition specialist. He can be contacted at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Supporter

Enter your email
Select your membership level

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >