The Tabata Formula – Fad, or Fat Shredder?

There are plenty of exercise fads are billed as the “next big thing in fitness”, only to fade into obscurity quickly. If you’ve been a fan of HIIT. training (as I have been for years) then you might want to check out Tabata.

You may not realize that workouts which are shorter-than-average often have the capacity to burn insane amounts of calories! Tabata delivers in this important respect – you can go hard, or you can go long, but you can’t truly do both!

With its origins in Olympic training Tabata can’t really be considered a fad, especially for how long it’s been around.

Get Better Results from Shorter Workouts

At the core of this training regimen is the ability to burn more fat in less time. Tabata is a popular type of HIIT (high-intensity interval) training which is composed of 8 rounds of super-high-intensity exercises, which are performed with an interval of “twenty seconds on, ten seconds off”.  This is extreme even compared to many HIIT programs that run one minute of intensity followed by 30 seconds rest, then repeat.

This regimen was created in Tokyo seventeen years ago, by Izumi Tabata. Fat-burning was not the original intent but rather to maximize athletic speed, output and recovery between sets. dr tabata

The creator of this workout style was employed as a researcher at Japan’s National Institute of Fitness and Sports. He developed these innovative workouts in order to assist athletes with their aerobic and anaerobic conditioning.

What Are These Workouts Like?

This type of workout usually lasts for just four minutes. It’s made up of repetitions which last twenty seconds each. The repetitions are intense exercise – think hyperventilation! After the twenty seconds of intense exercise, there is a ten second rest period, usually where I am gasping like a landed fish.

You’ll need a stopwatch or a workout buddy; don’t trust yourself to count accurately when under that kind of torture.

While it’s an “4-minute workout” I find that a good 10-minute warmup with some kind of cardio prior to the Tabata session is more effective, and easier on the joints.  Schedule a couple of cool-down minutes afterwards too.

Why Are These Workouts So Effective?

Studies have demonstrated that training of this type boosts the human body’s capacity to burn fat during the daytime. Basically, it helps you to burn fat hours after you’ve completed your short workouts! If you choose typical aerobic training over Tabata, your body will burn fat only while you do the aerobic training.

These workouts also raise VO2 max in certain people. VO2 max is the maximum quantity of oxygen which is utilized during workouts.

Who Are These Workouts Right For?

Understand that this workout style is very demanding. Many people hear the 4-minute workout part and think it’s a cinch – make no mistake, we’re talking about a 4 minutes beatdown that should leave you a slobbering mess if you’re doing it right.

The creator developed this form of exercise to help a speed skating team boost its fitness. As you can imagine, the speed skaters were rather fit to begin with! These workouts boost cardiovascular fitness and improve muscle endurance. To get through these intense workouts, you will need basic fitness, as well as mental toughness. You’ll have to push yourself through the workouts, because they are very hard workouts!

I recommend being in very good shape before embarking on this style of training. While you don’t need to have the conditioning of a competitive speed skater, you shouldn’t try these workouts if your idea of daily training is a stroll to a shop around the corner.

Tabata is perfect for those who already lead active and athletic lifestyles. It was designed to condition athletes. If you want to access a body which performs better during longer sessions of physical exertion, Tabata will deliver the right benefits.

But of course if you’re new to exercise talk to your doctor and get clearance for this kind of intense workout, or take his advice for adjusting the program for your situation.

Which Exercises are Performed?

Really, there are dozens to choose from. It’s possible to do it on fitness machines such as stationery bikes, elliptical machines and stair-climbers. Some people use real bikes or climb real stairs. Others use battle ropes, row or sprint. Some weighted exercises can work too like dumbbell thrusters or squats. In general, coaches and athletes like the following exercises the best:

Front Squats – Front squats which are performed with lighter weights are good because they activate a greater number of muscle groups. They are simple to begin and to complete. They will make you cry however (at least for me).

Kettlebell Swings – These swings with kettlebells boost coordination and conditioning and they feature rapid setup, which means that it will be simple to transition between your breaks.

Upper and Lower Body Combo – When you combine lower body and upper body exercise, you may stop certain muscles from getting tired. Go for four rounds of upper body exercise and then do four rounds of lower body exercise. One idea is four rounds of push-ups and four rounds of lunges.

If you want fast and efficient training, Tabata may be perfect for you. So, why not give it a try?

Giving Pilates a Try

Work Some Pilates into your Training


If you’ve been pounding your joints, connective tissue and muscles for any length of time, read on.  Staying in the fitness game requires getting real about recovery and occasionally rehab.  You might think of Pilates as some kind of fad and have zero interest in it at this point, but let’s get into it a bit and see if your not convinced to give it a try.

Pilates, created by renowned German gymnast Joseph Pilates, was originally established to provide war veterans that were struggling with their mobility a low strain method to enhanced recovery and has since gone on to become one of the most effective all-natural approaches to physical rehabilitation – but that’s really just part of its application.

pilates class

With the essence of this approach being a series of repetitive muscle contractions and physical movements/stretches that challenge each muscle group in the body, Joseph Pilates was onto something decades before it would catch up with the mainstream of fitness ethos.  That is, that training for stimulation of the entire body in muscle development and recovery trumps isolating only “beach muscles” commonly the focus of so many weightlifting programs


And while Pilates has evolved into something completely different today (dare we say commercialized for the masses) than it was back then, the root philosophy of this physical regimen stays the same. Along those lines the benefits of Pilates endure as well, giving you the ability to strengthen your core, stabilize your spinal system, and improve overall strength, flexibility, pliability, and elasticity.

Think about the importance of THESE fitness goals as we age and stop chasing “glamour metrics” like poundage hoisted.  There’s something to be said for being able to tie one’s shoes without pain!


With Pilates, you’re able to not only get stronger then you are right now and rehabilitate injuries – but there’s a legitimate fat-burning component to it as well – I found this out on my first serious 12-week Pilates experiment and was pleasantly delighted by this!


Is Pilates for everyone?  Well heck yes!


While some of the more advanced Pilates movements are going to require you to have a foundational level of fitness and a certain amount of flexibility and pliability (a lot like yoga), the overwhelming majority of Pilates movements can be done by beginners without any basic level of fitness whatsoever – though you might not be able to do them to the same degree as those that have a little bit of more fundamental fitness under their belts.


Folks of all ages have been taking advantage of Pilates for years to rehabilitate and rejuvenate their bodies, and you’ll be able to as well!


How do I get started?


I recommend going to the source for the fundamentals of Pilates, and the video below is pretty legit as well.  But if you are serious about making the most of this exercise and rehabilitation process, you’ll want to find a local Pilates practitioner and learn from someone with training and a deep background in it. Trust me, one session with a solid teacher is worth more than a dozen mistake-laden attempts trying to noob your way through a book or tutorial.


Instructors will have different certifications that you can verify (and make sure you do), and the odds are pretty good that you’ll be able to find at least a handful of instructors, groups, and classes in your local area so that you never have to worry about struggling to find a personality that really meshes with you.


What do I need to begin?


Good news! You don’t need to buy doodely-squat! In the first stages especially all you really need are comfortable clothes and maybe a yoga mat and you are off to the races!


Some classes may introduce resistance bands or weighted balls later down the line, but for the most part all you need is your own bag of bones to enjoy everything that Pilates has to offer. Of course you can also get your hands on DVD programs designed for the solo practitioner but again I do recommend at least getting yourself out to one class to avoid bad beginner habits.  Try it out – a looser you awaits!


Meditation Tools for Workout Power

Meditate with these Tools to Blast through your next Workout!

Maybe you’re brand new to meditation and need some tips on how to start, or maybe you’re an expert on doing it yourself and are considering adding some new elements to your meditation. Either way, we’ve got you covered. Here are some things to consider that will most certainly enrich your sitting sessions and help get you centered, calm and ready to enter the quiet places in your mind.


  1. Set the Scene

Create a space in your home or a whole room if you like that speaks to the serenity you wish to enter into in your mind and soul. Set a place by a window for natural light and have some natural elements there, perhaps on the windowsill. Consider including a bonsai tree or other potted plants, and remember to care for them before each session. Meditation is upkeep for the soul and nourishing something outside of yourself will help remind you of that. Other items might include a zafu meditation pillow, some incense, a gong or Bluetooth speaker for your meditation music, and some religious statues.


  1. Singing Bowls

The benefits of a Tibetan singing bowl go far beyond providing music. It has been observed in scientific studies that the sounds created from a singing bowl can create a sense of calm in the brain and reduce the level of stress hormones within our body. If you’re having trouble entering a calm state of meditation, try starting with 15 minutes with a Tibetan singing bowl and see how it changes your mood.


  1. Gemstone Malas

On top of providing some healing, malas can also help you track the number of times you’ve repeated your mantras, much like a rosary. When worn daily, it also serves as a call to your mind to make space for meditation within your day.


  1. Books on Meditation

There is always deeper to go in your meditation journey, and with an abundance of resources on the web, you’re sure to find what you need to enhance your experiences. Search according to religion if you want your meditation to appeal to your spiritual beliefs. There are many books on meditation within Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Judaism and more.


  1. Meditation Apps for Smartphones

Whether you need a soft alarm to signify the end of your session and draw you softly back into reality, desire to learn mantras or just wish to log your sessions, there’s a variety of apps with different bells and whistles to help you start or advance further in your meditation journey.


  1. Isochronic Tones and Binaural Beats

Often referred to as brainwave entrainment, specially formulated meditation programs using binaural beats and isochronic tone frequencies can help distracted meditators get into the groove a lot easier.  These come in MP3 format, on CD’s (if you’re still into that kinda thing), and speaking of apps for meditation, you can find brainwave entrainment apps for iPhone and Android. Whether you want gongs, affirmations, or the soothing sounds of nature there is a large volume of these programs now available. Music and sound can help add another element of centering peace to your session. Make a Spotify playlist or check out YouTube for some inspiring add-ons.


  1. Use a Meditation Guide

YouTube and smartphones have an abundance of resources for this. Sign up for a class and see if it adds or detracts from your experience.


Highlighting the 5 Best Battle Ropes for Building Strength

Highlighting the five best battle ropes for building strength


A lot of people are surprised to learn just how impactful “battle ropes” can be when it comes to different pieces of exercise equipment.


Essentially oversized ropes (that can get up to some pretty significant widths and weights), these battle ropes are going to really put each and every one of your major and minor muscle groups to the test when you use them the way they are designed to be used – burning every inch of your body and forcing you to grow stronger and more powerful with every battle workout session.  There’s a good training article here


At the same time, not all battle ropes have been designed to equally.


Some take advantage of higher quality construction materials, others take great care to craft specifically designed exercise instruments for specific types of workout programs, and others still produce ropes that are more “general-purpose” than specific better rope style pieces of equipment.


You’ll want to know exactly what you’re getting into before you pull the trigger on this kind of purchase – which is exactly why we have highlighted five of the best battle rope options available on the market today!


Let’s dive right in.


Battle Rope NEXPro

Designed and developed by one of the most innovative fitness equipment producers in the market today, this undulation rope is going to activate every muscle in your body when you go through a traditional battle rope routine thanks to its 100% polypropylene and polyester composition.


Utilizing three strand construction with heat shrunk caps at the end and full waterproofing as well, you are going to be able to really put this rope through its paces. Available in lengths between 30 feet and 50 feet, you’ll be able to utilize this 1.5 inch wide battle rope for cardio and strength training exercises.


Zeny Black Battle Rope

Available in two different width sizes (one for cardio and one for strength training), this particular battle rope comes in a variety of different lengths and with a variety of different material finishes to provide you with the kind of durable and long-lasting solution you are after.



Rep V2 Color Battle Rope


Manufactured to take advantage of space-age construction materials, this 100% poly dacron material is one of the most durable in the fitness battle rope industry. You will be able to really abuse this rope on a daily basis (if you like) and still be able to count on it for years and years to come.


Power Guidance Battle Rope

Many consider the Power Guidance 100% wrapped battle rope to be the very best of the best when it comes to the 1.5 inch diameter ropes, and it’s easy to understand why. This rope includes an anchor so that you can leverage it in small spaces, is 100% wrapped to protect the rope itself from frightening, and makes the most of 100% polydac materials for longevity.


Garage Fit Polydac Battle Rope


Another of the battle ropes available on the market today that makes use of 100% polydacron construction materials, this rope is available in both 30 foot lengths and 50 foot lengths, offers easy to handle grips on the last 10 inches of the battle rope, and includes a variety of different battle rope training guides that you can use to get right into these types of exercises without any previous experience.