Weight loss can be achieved in five minutes with an interval cardio training program called "Tabata Intervals" or the "Tabata Protocol." This program was named after Dr. Izumi Tabata, a former researcher at Japan’s National Institute of Fitness and Sports. Tabata learned the system from the coach of Japan's speed-skating team. The workout for the system lasts only four minutes, though you can do a warm-up and cool-down along with it.
Get on an exercise bike, a treadmill or rowing machine. Pedal, run or row as fast as you can for 20 seconds. Work as hard as you can without feeling like you are in danger of injury.
Decrease your speed and walk, pedal or row slowly to give your body a short time to recover. Once 10 seconds have passed, speed up again.
Repeat the 20-second high-intensity interval and the 10-second recovery time. Keep going for a total of four minutes.
Hop off the equipment and stand up straight. Bend your right knee and lift your right foot, grabbing your foot with your right hand and gently pulling it toward your buttocks to stretch your right quad. You will be standing on your left leg. Hold the stretch for 20 seconds and then do the other side.
Sit on a chair, bench or exercise ball and extend your legs straight in front of you with your feet on the floor. Pull your toes back and reach forward by bending at your waist to stretch your calves and hamstrings along the back of your legs. Keep your spine straight and try to bring your chest to your thighs, but do not go far enough to cause pain. Hold the stretch for 20 seconds.
You can do a five-minute warm up prior to the Tabata workout and a five-minute cool down afterward. The actual workout will still only last four minutes, but your heart rate will be allowed to raise slowly before the high-intensity Tabata and slow down gently after the workout with a cool down.
Even with high-intensity exercise added to your routine, eating too many calories a day can still slow down or sabotage your efforts. Use the calorie calculator in the "Resource" section to estimate your daily calorie needs; ask your doctor or nutritionist about how to stick to that number.
Brian MacKenzie, CFT, CCS, says that “Doing Tabata intervals will enhance the overall benefits you get from training, from fat loss to strength development.” MacKenzie is a personal trainer and owner of Genetic Potential and CrossFit Newport Beach in California. You will burn calories during those four minutes, but, more important, you will boost your metabolism for a minimum of 12 hours and up to 36 hours afterward, according to Stephen Cabral, who is nationally and internationally certified in strength and conditioning, personal training, yoga and nutrition.