Lose your Christmas belly in just 28 days

Posted by , 06 January 2014



What is it?

Devised by Japanese scientist Professor Izumi Tabata while working on the Japanese Olympic speed-skating programme (and now marketed globally), this is high-intensity interval training (HIIT) at its most extreme. You pour every ounce of energy you can muster into an explosive full-body movement for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds, and repeat all over again. Eight times.

The good news is a Tabata session lasts for only four minutes. The bad news: you’ll be huffing, puffing, panting and crying for your mummy within about 60 seconds.

How hard is it?

Tabata uses eight main exercises (though you’ll generally only do two per class), designed to move your body in three planes of motion: backwards and forwards, up and down, or side to side.

Going from a squat into a press-up into a high-knees frog jump is tough. Doing this as many times as you can, at 100% effort, for 20 seconds, is knackering.

The 10-second rest period doesn’t even come close to allowing you to recover properly, making each repetition more burningly difficult than the last. Four minutes later and you feel like you’ve been hitting the gym for half an hour.

Will it shift my belly?

It sounds too good to be true but, in tests, this type of short, sharp interval training has been shown to be more effective at boosting aerobic fitness than jogging or cycling at a steady, moderate pace for 60 minutes. And recent studies have shown that Professor Tabata’s system gets your metabolism going too, so that you continue to burn calories at a faster rate than normal for the 12 hours following the exercise.

Just be warned, this is no shortcut: you’ll sweat your glands out.

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