Burn Fat in 4 Minutes

We all lead increasingly busy lives with some people so busy they do not even have time to work out! The good news is that research is showing us that less can be more when it comes to exercise. You don’t need to spend hours slagging away on the treadmill to burn some fat, all you need is 4 minutes.

High Intensity Interval Training (commonly known as HIIT) is designed to blast fat in short, intense training sessions. A specific type of HIIT that has become popular is called Tabata, named after the Scientist who founded the method, Dr Izumi Tabata. The Tabata method includes doing 20 seconds of high intensity exercise that involves the whole body (or at least your biggest muscle groups), and then do 10 seconds of rest. This is repeated through 8 rounds totalling 4 minutes.

Dr Tabata’s research showed that the high intensity training improved maximal oxygen consumption by 14% in his test group while anaerobic capacity improved by 28%. So what does this mean exactly?

As a background, there are two ways that your body can burn energy (or two different fuels it can use, so to speak) these are known as aerobic and anaerobic exercise:


A situation when this could have occurred is when you got on the elliptical or treadmill, and exercised at a steady moderate rate for 20-40 minutes. This is the most common type of exercise people do because they it is not too demanding on the body, it is easy to execute without equipment and doesn’t require special instruction. This way of exercising uses oxygen to fuel your work out.


An example of anaerobic exercise is sprinting, it is something that you can do but your body cannot sustain for a long period of time. This means you must do short burst of this type of exercise followed by brief rest periods. Because your body depletes itself of oxygen during these training periods, it will afterwards continue to burn calories at a higher rate while it tries to repair itself. This type of exercise sets your body up to burn fat for extended periods of time after exercise is complete.


Dr Tabata’s research included a control group that did 5 one hour sessions of moderate intensity cardio per week. The other group did the high intensity 20:10 Tabata training. The study was conducted over six weeks, overall totalling 1800 minutes of training for the control group versus 120 minutes of Tabata training for the other group. The results showed that the Tabata group improved their anaerobic fitness dramatically – an increase of 28%.

When performing this exercise correctly and to your body’s absolute maximum, the 4 minute work out burns the same amount of calories as a 60 minute jog. Overall, this means less can be more, even when it comes to exercise!

Watch the video where UFC Athlete Richie Vas and his trainer, Jason Ho Gulati of Real Training Inc, discuss the Tabata method and it’s benefits for top athletes.


Still in doubt that less exercise could actually work? Lizza Gebilagin, editor from Cleo and feature of the online series Fight Like A Girl, tells us about the role HIIT exercise played in her journey to her first ever MMA fight.

Lizza writes…

I went to the Wanderlust Festival on the Sunshine Coast last weekend. Four days of hula-hooping, yoga backed by live music, and sunshine thawed my stressed-out self. I didn’t even realise how wound up I was until I went to a classic rock yoga class and the teacher asked us to shake our booties at our neighbours in between poses. Uh-uh. On the seventh ask, I finally got over myself and got into it. It was such a laugh.

Ideally, that’s the kind of exercise I’d love to be doing all the time. Activities that are so much fun you don’t realise how hard you’re working. But back in our time-restricted real world, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) works for me. You get excellent results in a short amount of time (because we all have better things to do than spend too much time in the gym). HIIT was especially great in the lead-up to my first mixed martial arts fight when I needed to get fit, fast. (See video here)  The short bursts of activity, followed by quick recovery periods, also mimics a fight, where I’d be fighting three rounds, three minutes each with a one-minute break in between.

For those of you who aren’t interested in fighting? Just 45 minutes of HIIT, three times a week, will get your body feeling more toned than ever. And a stronger body means a stronger mind, right? You know it!

Lizza Gebilagin is the deputy editor of CLEO magazine. Watch her face her fears in the Fight Like A Girl documentary series.


POSTED BY: Lizza Gebilagin