Tabata Fitness Exercise Review – A 30 Day Journal

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Fit in Four Minutes? Are You ‘Four’ Real?!

From my previous post, I am fitness lazy.  I would prefer NOT to workout than TO work out.  Ugh, working out seems like such a chore!  The closest thing to working out that I do right now is all the walking I do going from patient’s room to patient’s room  at work  and then coming home and walking my dog.  Other than that not much else.  Unfortunately, not even my virtual fitness trainer can get me to work out right now.  I am in a motivation slump.  Until I came upon an article talking about the new fitness fad: Tabata*.  Supposedly, by doing 8 rounds of a  high intensity 20 sec (do as many as you can) workout with short 10 second breaks for four minutes will get you fit, fast. Riiiiight.

(*WARNING: Due to the high intensity exercise required for Tabata, I do not recommend it to those of you who have high blood pressure or a history of any heart conditions.  Please consult your primary care physician before starting Tabata or any type of high intensity workout.  Dead is not fit, ok?  Know your body.)

Photo of screenshot of Tabata Sport Interval TimerI must say, like all the other reviewers out there who are also trying Tabata out, I am very intrigued about the four minute deal of it.  I mean, the whole yicky thing about working out is knowing that the more TIME you put into working out your body the faster you will see results. Blah, blah, blah.  Well, unfortunately, I and most of the other people around the world who are not rich and famous, can not afford the time to tone and sculpt our bodies into the six-packed muscley statues that we are…in our heads.  Most of us have jobs and families to juggle so even trying to carve out 30 minutes in a day is a big to-do.  So of course if a fad comes out that says we can get you fit in four minutes, why wouldn’t you try it? It’s FOUR MINUTES!

The background of Tabata is some scientist of the same name theorized that there had to be a more efficient way to work out. He probably had the motivation like we all do, none.  But he did have the motivation to come up with this idea and test it out.  He had two groups of people be his guinea pigs for the Tabata experiment.   One group was the control and did a normal 30 minute workout (or some long time interval) for a month, and group two did the four minute intensity workout.  And what’d you figure?   Both groups lost weight, but the Tabata groups numbers were more.  Why didn’t I think of this??

It’s the beginning of 2013 and I’ve decided to jump on the Tabata table and join the ranks to investigate this fitness phenomenon.  My goal is to do Tabata for the minimum interval of 4 minutes for 30 days.  Obviously you can do as many four minute intervals as you like, but the whole point of this experiment is to see if just doing the minimum time will still net positive results.  I will focus on one exercise activity for those four minutes, listening to my body, and doing what seems best for that day.

I will be keeping a paper journal near my workout space as a reference in case I don’t get to update the blog right away, but also it’s just easier to write things down sometimes.  In it will be similar to the daily journal you see below.  I will also try to weigh myself in the morning and also in the evening with the weight of breakfast and lunch still in my body.

There are a few questions that I hope will be answered for me in the next 30 days:  Does it really work? Will a measly four minutes really do the trick and get me to a healthier and fit me?  Or is it just too good to be true and just a fad that will come and go?

Photo of Tabata Sport Interval Timer logoBefore you start your Tabata workout find a Tabata Timer.  There are many Tabata Timer apps, free and paid, in your app store, so download one to your electronic device of choice.  I downloaded the Tabata Sport Interval app.  It’s very simple to use.  You choose the time interval you want for the activitiy portion of your Tabata workout, then the time interval for the resting portion.   You can also choose what you want to do first once the timer begins.   Do you want to start with the activity first or the resting first?  For the hearing,  the timer does a loud 4 second countdown.  A whistle sounds for the activity portion and a buzzer sounds for the resting portion.  This is nice so you don’t have to keep looking at your device to see how much time you have.  For the hearing impaired, you can visually see the timer countdown and the app also gives you color cues: red for resting and green for go (or activity).

So let’s begin:

Day 1: 01/31/2013 – 6:24pm – Weight 121.4 lbs; Tummy measurement 31 inches. Workout that I have chosen is jumping jacks.  This seemed like the longest four minutes EVER!  But now, after a few hours after the workout I can feel it in my shoulder muscles.  Feels good.

Day 2: 02/01/2013 – 6:00pm – Weight 121.4 lbs; Tummy measurement not checked.  Will check at the 30 day mark.  Workout: crunches, since my shoulders were still achy from yesterday.  By round seven and eight, my abs were definitely feeling the burn. But I’m happy I did it. Tomorrow, squats.

Day 3: 02/02/2013 – 8:00am – Weight 119.1lbs, doesn’t really count as this is a morning weigh in prior to eating for the day.  Forgot to weigh in at 6:30pm.  Oops.  Checked at 12:42am, 120.4 lbs.  Food eaten: 1 Vegetable Spring Roll; a large bowl of Pho with beef; and a turkey dinner (turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mash, and gravy). Yum!

Anyway, repeat after me: Squats are suckez-vous!  Did them this morning and I can barely walk down the stairs without wincing in pain.  I thought, “Four minutes of squats shouldn’t be a problem.” After 3 rounds I was begging for it to be over faster!!  Ugh.  When the four minutes was finally over I thought I was going to die.  I couldn’t even do a cool down or else I was going to throw up.  According to most reviews, when you’ve gotten to this point you’re doing it right.  So I went to lay down on the couch until my body caught up with the resting part of the program.

When I finally managed to haul myself off of the couch 20 minutes later my legs almost gave way, but I made it, albeit with a little pain, up the stairs and into the hot shower.  What I found interesting was that for an hour or two after the work out I noticed that my body was still radiating some crazy heat.

Most of the ache that I’m feeling from the squats is on the front of the thighs.   So now, I’ve still got aching shoulders, abs, front of the legs and back.  Awesome.  What is possible to do tomorrow without hurting myself? I think I’m going to do back of the legs, Supermans or something, then work my way up the back of my body.  Rinse, repeat.

Day 4: 02/03/13 – 11:17pm – Weight 121.2lbs. Since my legs were still aching from the squat session I decided against the Supermans and did tricep curls instead.  I have an adjustable hand weight set, but only used one of the hand bars (probably about 1 lb ) as a  starter weight.  Yeep! Even that started to burn my triceps by Round 6.  Yeah, I am definitely not bragging, I am a wimp.  LOL.

Photo of Eenae front body shot 5 days into Tabata workoutPhoto of Eenae side body shot 5 days into Tabata workoutDay 5: 02/04/13 – 7:10am – Weight 120.2lbs.  While it’s still early in the game, I took a couple of before pictures in the harsh light of the bathroom: front view and side view.  At the end of the 30 days, I’ll take another to compare changes, if any.  In these pics I am tensing my stomach.  LOL.   I know there are people out there who will ask why do I need to work out if I’m already so “thin”.  And my answer is, because I want to be healthy and toned and the little audience in my head says I’m not there yet.  I’m doing this so that I feel good about myself.

7:30 pm – Weight 122.2lbs. Dinner: naan bread pizza.  Workout: planks.  Legs were feeling better.  Butt muscles still ache.  However, I could make it down the stairs without wincing in too much pain.   Decided to workout my core and give my legs another night off.  However, tomorrow will need to be a cardio workout.  Have to keep the momentum going.

Day 6: 02/05/13 – I was talking with my best friend this morning and mentioned I was needing to do some cardio for tonight’s workout.  She mentioned that I should do burpees.  I was like, what? She said they were like a squat/push up/jump combo exercise.  That sounded like a lot of work.  So I looked it up online and decided that was what I was going to try tonight.

8:35pm – Weight 122.0 lbs.  Exercise: burpees.  Well, they were difficult.  I did four rounds of burpees, two rounds of jumping jacks because I couldn’t do anymore burpees, then pushed myself to do burpees for the last two rounds.  First observation, burpees are not a good Tabata exercise.  The reason being that because of the combo deal of a burpee you can only go so fast before you lose form and could possibly injure yourself.  Second observation, and perhaps this was because I was working out on carpet, when I went from squat to push up my feet kept sliding backwards.  Not good.

I will incorporate burpees into my routine after my 30 day experiment and I can do more intervals.

Day 7: 02/06/13 – 7:14am – Weight 121.0 lbs.  6:52pm – Weight 122.4 lbs. Exercise – Core: V-roll up.  I made that up.  I can’t remember what the move is called.  You lay flat on your back, legs straight out, arms straight up behind your head so you’re one long line.  Then you lift your legs and your arms  up into a v and then back down into a flat line.  The top of my abs were singing, I swear!  Started to falter at round 6 (which seems to be my devil round), but pushed through during the last two rounds.  AAARGGGGHHHH!

It’s been really nice doing these Tabata workouts.  I’ve actually been looking forward to them when I come home.  During the day I think about what exercise I want to focus on.  I think tomorrow will have to be Jumping Jack Thursday.  I feel the need for speed.

Day 8: 02/07/13 – 6:45am – Weight 120.6lbs.  6.37pm – Weight 122.0 lbs.  Exercise: Jumping Jacks.  Seemed much easier this time around.

Photo of Nemo coming down the street in a blizzard

Day 9: 02/08/13 – Nemo the Blizzard is on its way.  I had already planned my day off today.  So just weathering the snow at home.  9:30am –  Weight 120.8lbs. 10pm – Weight 123.4lbs.  As of now I think we’ve got about 2 feet of snow. It’s completely white outside and our power has shut off and on a few times.   Was feeling a little bit lazy today, but told myself I could do the friggin’ four minutes and get it over with.  Hence the late weigh-in time.  For tonight’s exercise I did the Cross Country.  Towards the end I was losing form and sort of flailing a bit.  LOL I looked quite ridiculous.

Those of you found by Nemo  (seriously, how could you NOT go there??), I hope you’re staying safe and warm.

Day 10: 02/09/13 – 10:00AM – Weight 120.8lbs. Tabata Day Off.  I think shoveling snow in Weymouth and Plymouth counts as as workout.

Day 11: 02/10/13 – 12:00am – Weight 121.2 lbs.  9am – Weight 120.4lbs.  6:20pm – Weight 122.0 lbs.  Exercise:  Squats.  Much better this week.  My legs feel stronger.  Didn’t get to the point of dying, but still did it fast.  Got my heart really going.  Tomorrow, I’m going to work on my arms with push ups.

Day 12: 02/11/13 – 7:15am – Weight 122.1 lbs. 10:30pm – Weight 123.4 lbs.  Exercise: Squats.

Day 13: 02/12/13 – 6:50am – Weight 121.2 lbs. 9:00pm – Weight 123.0 lbs.  Exercise: Jumping jacks.

Day 14: 02/13/13 – 6:50am – Weight 121.2 lbs.  9:58pm – Weight 123.8 lbs.  Had a killer headache today.  Took the night off.

Day 15: 02/14/13 – 6:55am – Weight 122.0 lbs.  9:50:pm -weight 122.0 lbs.  Kind of amazing since I just sat down to a Valentine’s Day turkey dinner! Yummy.  I was really procrastinating today.  I’m half way through the 30 days and I’m already starting to feel the laze.  But I sucked it up and did two 4-minute workouts since I missed yesterday’s.

First interval exercise: Bicycles.  Fun.  Not.  My abs will feel it in the morning.  Second interval exercise:  Planks.  I did one long plank for the first 4 rounds.  My arms were not happy and who knew planks could really heat you up.  I took a 10 second rest, then broke the last four rounds into two round planks.  Yeah.  My arms and abs were definitely not happy. But I’m happy for myself that I went through with today’s exercise.  Now for my shower!

Day 16: 02/15/13 – 7:00am -Weight 120.6lbs.  Forgot to do a night weigh-in.  Exercise – Side leg lifts on the floor.  Because these seemed like an “easier” workout.  I did a full 2 minutes on one side with no breaks and 2 minutes on the other.

Day 17: 02/16/13 – 11:14am – Weight 120.6lbs.  I ran a ton of errands today in Boston and finally had my postponed Chinese New Year dinner with my family so I actually didn’t have time nor the energy to do my 4 minute set today.  BUT I did get a good long walk with my dog in Boston.

Day 18: 02/17/13 – 9:50am – Weight 120.6lbs.  Seems to be my magic number as of late.  Exercise: Jumping jacks. I did my 4 minute set to make up for yesterday.  Was going to do another set meant for today after my nap….but guess what? It didn’t happen.  How sad I’m already procrastinating a 4 minute workout! LOL

I am noticing a change in my body shape.  My legs seem leaner and my waist seems trimmer.

Day 19: 02/18/13 – 3:00am – Weight 120.6lbs.  Wow.  4 days in a row.  9:30am – Weight 119.4lbs.  I decided to stop being a boob and do my two sets: one make up and one for the day.  1st set: Bicycles.  Always a fun one. Not.  2nd set: Standing ballet back leg lifts.  Haven’t done these in a long time.  My left leg is more stable than my right for balancing.  My left leg has no idea how to keep a rhythm when lifting! LOL   Guess I have to work on that.

At least I am done for today!  I feel better.  Amazing how you can feel guilty when skipping a day. But finally starting to notice a small difference is a bit of motivation to continue. Again, I have to keep telling myself “It’s only FOUR MINUTES!  Get it together!”

Day 20: 02/19/13 – 7:30am – Weight 118.0 lbs.  I had no idea what my body felt like doing today.  For dinner I had chicken with cranberry stuffing, mash and veggies so it was sitting pretty heavy in me and I didn’t want to do a Tabata Toss Up if you know what I mean.  After a couple of SNL episodes (Seth MacFarlane and Channing Tat-yum) and a walk around the neighborhood with Yoshi in the rain I was digested enough to do my workout.  After perusing some fitness articles I decided to try the Speed Skating workout.  I rollerblade so it couldn’t be that difficult but just to be sure of the correct form I watched the following video to make sure I did it correctly.

I did the workout and it really did get you pumped up but I still need to work on my form a little bit. It just didn’t feel right without blades on.  I felt like my arms were pendulating in the wrong direction.

Perusing a couple of other videos I found tomorrow’s workout: Mount Everest Climbers.  It’s Mountain Climbers….on steroids.

Looking forward to it and not looking forward to it at the same time. AAGH!  I’ll do a night weigh in after my hair has dried.

11:33pm – Weight 119.8lbs.

Day 21: 02/20/13 – 7:00am – Weight: 119.8lbs.  Bad day.  No motivation.

Day 22: 02/21/13 – 7:00am – Weight: 116.8lbs.  Forgot the night weigh-in.  I was too busy laughing at myself because I could barely do ONE 20-sec round of those Mt. Everest Climbers!   Even regular mountain climbers became too much! My legs got stuck! LOL  So I did one round of Mt. Everest Climbers; a round of regular mountain climbers;  a half a round of Mt. Everest Climbers again with a plank thrown in at the end.  I’m serious it was ridiculous! HA HA HA  At one point my friend was like, “If you can’t do a full series, you’re not getting the full benefit, so do something else.”  OK.  Hell, the jumping jack became formless at the end.  All in all it was a much needed laugh!….and sometimes that’s the best exercise.

Day 23: 02/22/13 – 12:30am – Weight 118.6lbs; 7:00am – Weight 116.8lbs.  It’s been interesting watching my morning weight slowly go down with each day.  That is motivating.  I hope I continue in my paper journal far after this 30 day journal is complete.

I still owe a workout.  Probably going to work arm weights.

Day 24: 02/23/13 – 9:33am – Weight 116.4lbs.  Ok, I have to do 3 intervals today, two for makeup.  I am thinking of splitting them up for the day.

Just did my first set: side planks.  First set each side: elbow side planks.  Second to fourth set each side: Long arm side planks.  My left arm at the last set started shaking uncontrollably.  Definitely my weaker arm.

I am planning on Saturday Squats as the second set exercise, and arm circles with light weights for third set.

For the arm circles I held a 1lb weight in each hand.  First round: Arms to the sides, circles going forward.  Second round: Arms to the sides, circles going behind.  Third round: Tricep lifts over the head.  Fourth round: Bicep curls.  Fifth round: Double dutch circles.  Sixth round: Rope whip to the front.  Basically arms out straight in front and moving them up and down.  Seventh round: Side arm lifts.  Eighth Round: I can’t remember, but some arm thing.

8:47pm – Weight 117.6lbs.

Day 25: 02/24/13 – 10:30am – Weight 118.6lbs.  I can feel the muscles in my arms are a little sore.  Exercise: Reverse planks.  Basically same as plank but this time lifting belly up to the ceiling instead of my back.   You can see your abs and legs work on this one and feel your back tighten.  On the breaks I would roll on my back from side to side to massage it.  10:00pm – Weight – 119.8lbs.

Day 26: 02/25/13 – 6:44am – Weight 118.6lbs.  8:30pm – Weight 119.8lbs.  I’m not making this up.  Crazy.  Exercise: bicycles.  Felt the need for some abbage workout.  Funny how the bicycles weren’t as painful as when I first started.  This probably means I need to amp it up more to get the full effect.  I suppose Mountain Climbers or Mount Everest Climbers are back in my near future.  Eeyuck.

I can’t believe my 30 days are almost over.  Four more days.  WOW.  It’s too bad I didn’t think of taking morning before pics as well.  Oh well.  I’ll do a morning pic anyway and an evening pic.

Day 27: 02/26/13 – 7:20am – Weight 118.4lbs; 11:30pm – Weight 119.2lbs.  Exercise: Squat Thrusts (2 rounds); Mountain Climbers (1 round); Squat Thrusts (1 round); Plank (2 rounds); Long arm side planks with an extra round tossed in for the other side (2 rounds)

Day 28: 02/27/13 – 7:00am – Weight 118.2lbs; 10:30pm – Weight 119.2lbs.  Exercise: None.   Got started with a really good book by one of my favorite authors, J.R. Ward.  Her Black Dagger Brotherhood series is so much fun!  I had a “me” day and just exercised my brain all night.  It was wonderful!

Day 29: 02/28/13 – 7:00am – Weight 118.2lbs; 10:00pm – Weight 120.0lbs.  Probably not a good to day to start eating heavy so close to the end of my journal.  But it’s Turkey Dinner Thursdays at work and it was sooo good!  And then I made steak, onions and rice for dinner.  So I’m weighing in a bit heavy.  Oh well.

I doubled up on my exercises tonight to make up for taking last night off to read.  Sad the book was over, though.  First exercise set: Squats, as many and as fast as I could do them per round.  Second set was a mixture of things: Since I already worked my legs with the squats, I did fast push ups with knees bent (2 rounds); plank (2 rounds); air jabs/punches (1 round);  Situps, elbows to knees (1 round); and reverse plank (1 round).

I haven’t decided what I’ll do for my final Tabata exercise journal entry as of yet.  I’d like something a little challenging.  I may have to peruse the interwebs for some inspiration.

DAY 30!!  03/01/13 – 7:05am – Weight 118.8lbs; Waist 31.5inches; 8:45pm – Weight 119.8lbs; Waist – 30.75pm.  So I’m probably not helping my situation in these final days of my journal by eating heavy foods.  But I’m here to be honest and these are the numbers.

Exercise I found off of Bodyrock.tv. 12 minute magic abs (It’s 16 because of the 10 second breaks).

I only did the first 8 exercises:

1. Push-Ups

2. 5 High Knees , Half Burpee

3. Jax

4. Bike Abs

5. Star Pushup

6. High Knees

7. Lunge Right

8. Lunge Left

—-

Here’s a graph of my weight for the morning and evening for the past 30 days.

Pic of 30 day weight fluctuation for morning and evening

It seems that I have lost about 2 lbs in 30 days.

Here are the pictures.  I wore the same outfit so it’s easier to compare.  I’ll post the Befores again.  These were PM shots.  I wish I had the foresight to have done AM shots in the beginning as well.

BEFORE PM:

Photo of Eenae side body shot 5 days into Tabata workout Photo of Eenae front body shot 5 days into Tabata workout

AFTER AM: tabata-day-30-am-side-030213 tabata-day-30-am-front-030213

AFTER PM:

tabata-day-30-pm-side-030213 tabata-day-30-pm-front-030213

My belly isn’t as “cupcakey” now.  I FEEL fitter and I see that I am trimmer than I was.  My legs are stronger, my right knee doesn’t ache as much.  I am really excited about the results!  The weight is fluctuating but I understand it all depends on WHAT I eat for the day.  I’m averaging about 118-119lbs now.

So what does these mean for the conclusion:  Well, I plan on continuing the 4-minute workout every day.  And also if I feel like it I may add additional time and exercises.  It’s just nice to know that even just four minutes will net results.  It would be nice to get abs like the girls on Bodyrock and I realize that’s going to take a lot of work and dedication and eating right.

As for my eating, I am going to lighten up on the heavy foods (mashed potatoes, stuffing, and rice etc.) or just have smaller portions.  Eat more veggies and protein.  If I really need to indulge a bit, which I don’t really do very often, I will do just a 1/2 cup of snacks (using a measuring cup).

For those of you who wish there was more than 24 hours in a day, I highly recommend doing Tabata.  It fits in your busy schedule and it makes you fit!  Just remember to listen to your body and don’t forsake form for pace.

If you run out of ideas of what to do for your workout intervals for the day I suggest perusing the web, or check out Bodyrock.tv.  The trainers are highly motivational and they are doing the workouts with you.

If Tabata is not your thing there are other ways to get fit as well!  Good luck when you decide to start!

Thanks for keeping up with me!  I may post a 3 month and 1 year photos later on.

If you have started or have done Tabata, please let me know in the Comments what is working for you and how Tabata has helped your fitness regime!

E-Rating (1-meh, 5-Eenae endorsed): EEEE  I give four E’s to keep with the Tabata theme, and also it IS a workout!

3 Comments

  1. Alice says:

    I look forward to seeing you get toned and healthy! I am going to look into this 4 minute workout- maybe you can inspire us to get healthy,too. Good luck, Alice

  2. jacques says:

    Congrats on keeping up the routine. The commitment to doing it consistently is the hardest part.

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