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The 4-minute Tabata workout that an ex-Marine swears by for ‘instant sweat’

Well+Good logo Well+Good 3/2/2020 Rachel Lapidos
a woman wearing a swimsuit: 4 minute tabata workout © Photo: Getty Images/jacoblund 4 minute tabata workout

More often than not, trying to fit a workout into a hectic day can kind of feel like you're playing a game of Tetris. This is why one of our 2020 wellness trends is all about the "Blue Zones" approach to fitness (aka fitting movement naturally into your day), and why shorter workouts are on the rise. And it just so happens that I've found the shortest one yet: a four-minute Tabata workout created by a fitness trainer-slash-ex-Marine.

Erin Oprea is a trainer, with a client roster that includes stars like Carrie Underwood and Kasey Musgraves, and her fitness M.O. is to make the most of her clients' time. "Being a Marine taught me structure and discipline, and to celebrate the gift of movement," she says. The day she stumbled across Tabata, she became an instant devotee. "It's seriously the best. It's go-time with minimal rest."

Tabata is a form of high-intensity interval training, and the idea behind it is that you work hard for 20 seconds, then rest for 10, and so on. That means there are millions of different workout combos that you can string together based on the formula, but Oprea is all about doing them in four-minute sessions "because they're really practical and you can easily fit them in whenever," she says. It may sound impossible to get a decent workout in under the length of a song, but Oprea stresses that Tabata leaves no room for slacking. "In four minutes, you really push yourself, and when you're actually doing that 20 seconds of work, it'll start to feel like a long time," she says.

Since Tabata typically involves doing basic, but explosive, strength training moves in 20 second intervals, you'll definitely be out of breath and sweaty once the four minutes is up. Think about doing squat jumps or high knees, for example—those moves are not a breeze. And since Oprea's method is so short (but packs a punch), she recommends stringing some together for, say, a 20-minute HIIT workout. "You could also do four minutes at one point of your day, then another four later on," says Oprea. "But think about it—you don't have to drive or travel anywhere to do them, and by the time you'd get to a gym to start working out, you'd already be done with this four-minute Tabata." Her tip? Blast your favorite upbeat song, and get ready to sweat. Keep scrolling for one of her signature four-minute Tabata workouts.

Try this four-minute Tabata workout to burn out your lower body

Round one: Squat jumps for 20 seconds. Rest for 10 seconds.

Round two: Squat hold for 20 seconds. "This is like a wall sit without a wall," says Oprea. "Keep your quads parallel to the ground. If your knees go forward, you can hold onto a pole and let your butt get down low." Rest afterwards for 10 seconds.

Repeat back and forth for eight rounds total, and prepare to be sore.

Slideshow: The 50 all-time best exercises for weight loss (Courtesy: The Active Times) 

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