Are you working out hard enough?

This week our challenge is Tabata’s, 4 minutes of exercise.  Can you really get benefits out of 4 minutes of exercise?  Well, yes and no.

4 minutes of exercise, at any level, is better than sitting on the couch.  I’d rather you take a leisurely stroll pace for 4 minutes then spend 4 more minutes watching tv.

But are you going to see results by leisurely going through the motions?  No.  In order to see results, you need to put forth some effort.

When the Japanese scientist developed TABATA style exercise, they compared two groups of elite athletes.  One group did 60 minutes of moderate intensity exercise 5 days a week and the other group did a TABATA high intensity session 4 days a week.  They found that while both groups gained endurance, the TABATA group had more improvements.

These 4 minute TABATA sessions were no joke though.  These elite athletes put all their effort and energy into the work sessions, and by the end of the 4 minutes they were gasping for air, could barely stand, all out of energy.  They worked to their maximum abilities.

Now I DO NOT want you to do this!!  Unless you are an elite athlete under the guidance of a team of doctors and exercise scientists, it is 210% not safe for you to do this.

But I do want you to put forth a good bit of effort during your exercise.

There are two easy ways to rate how hard you are working.

1. The Talk Test

Can you easily talk while you are exercising?  If so, you are not working hard enough!  If you’ve ever seen people at the gym or out for a walk talking on their phone, they are not getting an effective workout (this is one of my pet peeves!).

You should be able to talk, putting together a few words without having to take a breath.

If you are having trouble getting out words, you are working too hard.  Slow down, take out arm movements, and/or make your movements smaller.

If you can say a long sentence without taking a breath, you need to pick up the pace.  Either go faster, make your movements bigger or add in arm movements to increase your intensity.

For the advanced exerciser, if you can say 1-2 words and then need to take a breath, this is ok during TABATA training.  But this is only for advanced.  All other levels should be able to say a 3-4 words before taking a breath.

2. The 1-10 Scale (also known as the Borg Scale or Rate of Perceived Exertion/RPE)

Be honest and rate your work effort on a scale of 1 to 10.

1 is you are lying on the couch watching tv.  No effort, just resting.

2 is a light effort, you can carry on a conversation easily

3 is a moderate level, you can talk but it is a bit of an effort to do so

4 is somewhat hard, it takes some effort to talk, but you can get out 2-3 words without taking a breath.

5 is hard, you definitely don’t want to talk, but you can get out 1-2 words without taking a breath.

7 is very hard, one word talking max.

10 is you are being chased by a man with an axe and you are putting forth all your effort to run as fast as you can.  You can’t talk, you must put forth all effort into breathing and running!

For beginners, work until you reach level 3-4.
For the intermediate exerciser, work out at a level of 4-6.
For the advanced exerciser, you should be between a 7-8.

So, when you do today’s TABATA, think about your effort.  Are you working out at the right level for your fitness experience to get the best results?

Wednesday’s TABATA

Exercise 1: Jumping Jacks (Low or High Impact)

Exercise 2: Push-ups at your level
Wall push ups:

Bench push ups (you can use a steady chair, bench, couch, or your bed):

Modified Push ups:

Full Push ups:


And my promise to you, I will post a video of me completing today’s TABATA challenge on my Facebook page.  Be sure to check it out!

As always, leave a comment when you’ve completed today’s TABATA challenge.  Have fun!




2 responses to “Are you working out hard enough?

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