The 30-second gym routine that works

MICHELLE BRIDGES
Last updated 10:46 10/08/2014
Michelle Bridges
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FITNESS EXPERT: : "There are only two good reasons to get hot and sweaty for 20 minutes, and Tabata is one of them."

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Winter training has its own special challenges. There is the "You must be joking, it's still dark" challenge, followed closely by the "I might leave it until after work" challenge. And if you're heading to the gym for your morning session, you may well fall victim to that odd conspiracy of the car just getting toasty as you pull into the car park. This is the "Only a buff male model can get me out of this car" challenge.

So the last thing you want to be doing is creeping around the gym doing some sort of half-hearted warm-up. This is when I lean on my old friend Tabata. No, not a Japanese energy drink, but rather a form of high-intensity interval training that gets you in and out of the gym in record time - with a killer workout under your belt.

Tabata incorporates 20 seconds of high-intensity exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest. Each of these 30-second blocks is performed eight times, giving four minutes of exhaustion in total. Tabata's physiological benefit is well researched, but I like it because in this world there are only two good reasons to get hot and sweaty for 20 minutes, and this is one of them. It also gets me out of the gym quick sharp.

You can do this using just one exercise repeated eight times. Or you can alternate two exercises to reach a greater variety of body parts. A favourite of mine is the agonist/antagonist combination. This is posh personal trainer talk that basically means the exercises work opposite to each other: one will push while the other pulls (e.g. bench press versus rowing). Or one will curl while the other extends (e.g. thigh extensions versus leg curls). My other fave is to couple upper- and lower-body exercises. This forces the blood to move radically from your legs to your upper body and then back again, making your heart work hard and thereby improving cardiovascular fitness.

Michelle's tip
A five-minute jog is the best warm-up for Tabata or any other training session. Save the stretches for after your workout.

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