Thursday, May 6, 2010


Every time someone comes up to me and asks me to recommend a quick, but effective workout routine for them, I give them the Crossfit Tabata This workout. The Crossift FAQ page explains this thusly:

“Tabata Intervals ( 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest repeated 8 times) is applied in turn to the Squat, Rower, Pullups, Sit-ups, and Push-ups with a one minute rotation break between exercises. Each exercise is scored by the weakest number of reps (calories on the rower) in each of the eight intervals. During the one minute rotation time allowed the clock is not stopped but kept running. The score is the total of the scores from the five stations.”

If one were to apply all the exercises indicated on that list, the workout would take 25 minutes, exclusive, of course, of any warm ups and stretching routines, which, when applied, can make the total time 35 minutes or less.

Usually, though the people who ask me of this want to use the workout at home for convenience’s sake, and since not a lot of people own rowing machines, I always take the rower out of the equation, giving us 30 minutes total time left.

Another thing to consider, though something I don’t really recommend, is to take the pullup exercise out as well, since not a lot of people have bars or similar apparatus within their homes that can support their own body weight. I really don’t like taking out the pullup since it’s one of the most excellent exercises I know and is one of my personal favorites, but if you must take it out, then fine. Exercising less is always better than not exercising at all, but again, not that recommended. In this case, the total time would be cut down to only 25 minutes. Just enough time to do while watching your favorite program on TV.

For absolute beginners, though, I would recommend cutting down the time for each exercise cycle in half just so you can get the hang of it first. After doing the workout continuously for about a month or so, then you'll most probably be strong enough to challenge it at the full level.

So, instead of doing 8 cycles per exercise, you'll only be doing 4, resulting in only 2 minutes total exercise time, plus the 1 minute break, bringing our total down to only 22 minutes if you include the pullups, and only 19 minutes if you exclude them.

Alright, so let’s begin the workout, shall we? First of all, you have to warm yourself up a bit before diving into any workout routine. Seasoned exercisers can quickly dive into bodyweight workouts such as these without any repercussions, but I don’t recommend this for most people, as it can cause unnecessary injuries. Do some basic movements such as jumping jacks, jump rope, jog in place, or a combination of these for around five minutes, or until a light sweat has been built up and you feel your heart rate increase. I personally like to do shadow boxing for this. If you can’t think of anything and want a bit more structure, then here’s a good warmup video:

Next is the pullup. Again, some people may not want to include this on account of lack of equipment, but I still recommend it, so I’m keeping it in.

The video has the person doing both pullups and push ups, but pay attention to only the pullup portion this time around, since he has excellent form. Do the exercise for 20 seconds, rest 10 seconds, repeat the cycle seven more times, then rest for one minute. If you are unable to do pullups like he does, then that’s okay. Simply do single pullups until you can get the hang of it. Jump up onto the bar and do one full pullup, drop down, rest a bit, then do another. Repeat until your time runs out.

Okay, now we go to the pushups. Here’s a video with a more technical view of the exercise:

Do the exercise for 20 seconds, rest 10 seconds, repeat the cycle seven more times, then rest for one minute. Like the video mentions, if you can’t do full push ups with proper form, then do knee push ups, or as some people call them, “lady push ups”.

Next, we’ll do situps:

This is a good situp video tutorial, but I wouldn’t recommend beginners do this exact form. Notice that the woman doing the movement has her back perfectly in the neutral position. Unfortunately, many people who perform situps with their arms out in front of them like in the video often promote rounded postures, which is definitely not a good thing for the spine if done too often. An easy way around this is to simply place your hands on the sides of your head, around the back of your ears. Don’t interlock your fingers and don’t grab your head, since the tendency for many beginners is to pull their head and thus, give unnecessary stress on the spine. Just leave your hands there the whole time and let just the abdominals do all the work. Make sure that you keep your posture neutral at all times to prevent any injuries. Do the exercise for 20 seconds, rest 10 seconds, repeat the cycle seven more times, then rest for one minute.

And then, we have squats:

Excellent video right there. Just remember to keep your spine in the neutral position at all times during the movement. Never curve it unnecessarily and maintain proper form. Do the exercise for 20 seconds, rest 10 seconds, repeat the cycle seven more times, then rest for one minute.

Lastly, we have stretching. If you still remember all the flexibility exercises you learned about in school, then those should be fine. But, if you don’t, then here’s a good video you can use:

Let’s recap!

1. Warm up for around 5 minutes
2. Do pull ups for 20 seconds, rest 10 seconds, repeat the cycle seven more times, then rest for one minute.
3. Do the same for push ups
4. Then Situps
5. Then Squats
6. And lastly, perform a 5-minute flexibility routine

That’s it! You can actually perform this workout six days a week if you wanted to, but always leave at least one day of complete rest for your body to fully recuperate. If you only want to do it every other because your body always feels sore the next day, then that’s fine, too, as long as you keep it up and perform the workout consistently.

But what do you do from getting bored of this workout after performing it long term? Well, remember that you're scoring yourself each time you perform these exercises, so just try to beat your scores every time you work out. Never give up and the results will speak for themselves!

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