The Fastest, Most Intense Workout That Can Be Done In A 6 Foot Area

Got major time issues, no gym available, raining or unsafe outside?  Here is a workout that you can easily do in your hotel room, a prison cell, or in the best equipped gym in the world.  If you learn this one, you won't need any equipment and will be able to get in a great workout in a tiny space with a tiny amount of time.

Let me introduce you to Tabata

Tabata Protocol

Equipment needed: Some sort of timing device.  iPhone, Gymboss Timer, Watch, Sundial...whatever.

Time required:  4 to 40 minutes depending on your motivation level and available time

Space: 6 feet x 3 feet

Tabata is a protocol developed by some guy named Tabata that is supposed to result in the most efficient gains.  Whether or not 20 seconds is better than 30 or 35 seconds, I don't really know...or care.  I know that the Tabata Protocol is incredibly effective, only takes a short amount of time and only requires a watch or an iPhone for equipment.  My kind of workout.

Here is how it works:

Take any exercise...say pushups for example.  We will do as many as possible in 20 seconds and then rest for 10 seconds.  Then we will do 8 rounds of that.  Tabata looks like this when abbreviated: 20sw/10sr x 8 (20 seconds work/10 seconds rest x 8 rounds).  

What I like to do is to pick 5 exercises and do an 8 round circuit in each.  A typical travel day might look like this;

Tabata Pushups

Tabata Situps

Tabata Squats

Tabata Mtn Climbers

Tabata Burpees

Each of these will be 20 seconds of the hardest you can possibly go or most reps followed by 10 seconds of complete rest.  We will complete 8 rounds of each exercise.  This means that each exercise will take 4 minutes to complete.  I usually give myself a minute rest in between exercises so that means that this workout takes 28 minutes to complete from start to finish.  I guarantee you that if you give it your all on every one, it will be one of the hardest workouts you do for a while.  That is the key to the effectiveness of this one is to give it everything you have in times of work.  If you are short on time, simply cut back on the number of exercises.  This is still very effective with just 2 or 3 exercises.

To make it more fun and measurable, I like to measure my results by scoring each exercise by the lowest number of reps completed in the 8 rounds.  So, for example, lets say you did pushups and your scores were 15, 17, 18, 7, 9, 12, 14, 13.  Your score for that exercise would be 7...the lowest number, no matter what the scores of the other rounds were.  If having a friendly competition with another athlete, we will take the lowest number on each exercise and then add them together for a total score.

Tabata is completely effective on the road or in the gym.  Try this one at home or in your hotel room.  I have done something like this between interviews for Saltwater Experience, while waiting on a customer at the dock, between the time I take the boat out of the water and when I am supposed to meet a sponsor for dinner or in my hotel room when I am not sure i am in a safe neighborhood.

Other exercises I regularly use for Tabata are but not limited to: Jumping Jacks, Handstand Pushups, Pullups, Grasshoppers, Flutter Kicks, Sledge Hammer Strikes, Double Unders, High Knees, Wall Balls, Hang Cleans, Dips and more.  Use your imagination and what is available to get a different workout every time and challenge yourself.

Tools available:

Gymboss Timer- This little thing is great.  Cheap, durable and makes a loud beep when it is time to work and when it is time to rest. Click here to visit their site

iPhone Apps: There are tons available...Search Tabata on the App Store.  Most are free but some are $1.99.  Definitely worth having on your phone.  I like one called Timer Pro which has a stopwatch, countdown, Tabata and customized intervals.  The one I use was free, but there are all sorts of timers out there.  Look around and see which suits your purpose and get it.

Let me know if you try this one and post up some different variations.

All the Best,

Tom Rowland