Yes, you read that right. With only a single, four minute mini-workout, you will get a metabolic boost offering you several hours worth of fat burning. You’d have a hard time finding a higher return on any investment. I meant what I said though. You are going to have to give me 4 minutes of your time. Trust me, it will be worth it.
You see, today, you are going to learn something by doing it. This is going to be educational through personal experience. So, prepare yourself to get out of your chair and move around for a few minutes.
Step 1) Select one exercise from the list below, preferably one you’re familiar with and comfortable doing for several repetitions:
- bodyweight squat
- spinal rock
- front or reverse lunge
- bird dog
- another comparable exercise of your choice
There, that was the easy part.
Step 2) Now, I also want you to get either a timer, or a clock/watch with a second hand and place it somewhere you can easily see it while practicing that exercise.
We’re going to do a mini-workout that lasts for only four minutes – just enough to get your heart rate going and break a sweat without utterly exhausting you.
Step 3) So, let’s say you picked the bodyweight squat exercise. Here is what I want you to do…
After a brief warmup, repeat the following 8 times in a row: 20 seconds of bodyweight squats, followed by 10 seconds of rest (then immediately into the next 20 second round of bodyweight squats). The total duration should equal four minutes.
Warning: do not attempt if you are injured, unfit, or otherwise wimpy. Only attempt with clearance from your doctor and if you want to enjoy exponential fat burning benefits from a ridiculously short time investment.
-Use the first 3 rounds as gradually escalating warmup rounds. Focus on your technique and try to make each repetition perfect – even if you must go very slowly to dial in the correct movement pattern. For rounds 4-6, gradually start to build intensity, but maintain good technique as your highest priority. At this stage, the challenge should be moderate, but not extreme (rating of perceived exertion should be between 60-80% of your max). The last two rounds should be an all-out effort (80-100% of your max exertion), and you should be striving to maximize the amount of good repetitions you can score during those short, 20 second windows.
-This should not be four minutes of all-out effort. It’s not a 4 minute “set.” Instead, pace yourself and only push hard for the last 2 rounds. You don’t want to go over-kill in the beginning and burn out before the end. Think of the 8 successive rounds as a formula for peaking at the very end. Round 8 should be your highest scoring round.
Step 4) Go for it!
Step 5) Once you’re finished: catch your breath, drink some water, and shake it out.
What you just did
You just combined a simple bodyweight exercise with a powerful training method called the 20/10×8 protocol, which is based on the Tabata high intensity interval training method (HIIT). This is an example of an intermittent, anaerobic, high intensity workout, which can be used to increase your conditioning level, and also help you burn fat via the EPOC effect, among other things. EPOC stands for excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (aka the “afterburn”), and essentially means that your body goes into oxygen debt after strenuous exercise, and that causes the release of fat stores for energy post-workout. In other words, you keep burning fat AFTER you’re done exercising.
Researchers have found that EPOC can last for several hours after the conclusion of training, one study concluding that EPOC lasted for 38 hours following a strenuous session. We can use this to our advantage by modeling the method in our own training programs. I don’t know about you, but I’d like to keep burning fat for hours, and possibly even days, after my training session is over.
How to Use This in Your Program
1) As a workout finisher – If you feel like you’ve got a little extra juice in the tank when your regular workout is over, consider adding a single 4 minute session to the end as a finisher. Take the opportunity to go all-out and make sure you’re putting in as much work as you possibly can before cooling down. Still got more energy? Go for two finisher rounds.
2) As a separate mini-workout - The great thing about these 4 minute sessions is that they only take four minutes. You could squeeze one of these in at the beginning of the day, during your lunch break, or just before dinner, etc. I’d caution against doing this type of training before bed though. You’ll probably be wired for a few hours afterward.
3) Create a whole workout based on this protocol – Pick 4-6 exercises, and then do a 4-minute round for each one. Give yourself 1-2 minutes in-between each round to rest up and then start the next one. If you choose this route, make sure you have a more than sufficient warmup and a targeted cooldown routine. Some rest and recovery strategies will come in handy during and in-between rounds, too (vibration training, breathing exercises, mobility drills, etc.). This one will take a lot out of you, which is why I recommend you only choose up to 6 exercises. Keep the volume on the low side so that you can really crank up the intensity. And also be sure to liberally use the performance tips posted above.
If you’re interested in a complete training program that uses this exact protocol to help you burn fat, build muscle, and develop functional fitness, then click here to check out TACFIT Commando, which contains 9 months worth of training programs specifically using this same exact 4 minute formula.
Or, if you’ve never heard of TACFIT before, click here for an interview with Scott Sonnon about TACFIT to learn more.
So, for those who actually did this… which exercise did you choose, how many reps did you score during the final round, and what did you learn?
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CST Coach, CST-KS
Health-First Fitness Coach
Baker, E. J., and T. T. Gleeson. EPOC and the energetics of brief locomotor activity in Mus domesticus. J. Exp. Zool. 280: 114–120, 1998.
Schmidt, Wilfred Daniel (1992). The effects of aerobic and anaerobic exercise on resting metabolic rate, thermic effect of a meal, and excess postexercise oxygen consumption. Ph.D. dissertation, Purdue University, United States — Indiana. Retrieved March 30, 2011, from Dissertations & Theses: Full Text.(Publication No. AAT 9301378).
Schuenke MD, Mikat RP, McBride JM (March 2002). “Effect of an acute period of resistance exercise on excess post-exercise oxygen consumption: implications for body mass management”. European Journal of Applied Physiology 86 (5): 411–7.
Tabata I, Nishimura K, Kouzaki M, et al. (1996). “Effects of moderate-intensity endurance and high-intensity intermittent training on anaerobic capacity and VO2max”. Med Sci Sports Exerc 28 (10): 1327–30.