Whether you’re hitting the beach in a few weeks time or just wanting to get into shape for the great weather – as busy mums we need and want something quick, fun and easy to do, that also gets us radical results, right?!
Enter the best (secret) way to get fit in no time – cardio intervals. These are based on the American method of Tabata training. It is the most effective, time efficient cardio workout you can have. Alternating short bursts (30, 45 or 60 secs usually) of exercise – running, cycling, rowing or swimming at a ‘high/fast pace’, followed by a similar period of time (30, 45 or 60 secs or so) at a slow pace, repeated several times for three times a week over eight weeks.
Why it makes you super fit, quicker!
Shorter, higher intensity exercise works your body and cardio-vascular system harder so that it boosts your metabolism. Your body responds by becoming leaner and stronger, improving your body shape improving your muscle tone. Plus they are acutally quite fun to do – believe me – and they are over quickly! They are not however suitable if you are pregnant or less than 16 weeks post natal. Make sure you’ve had the green light from the Doctor or Midwife to say you’re OK to exercise!
This is a maximum fat burning technique and far more effective than slow, long cardio like walking of swimming leisurely for 40 minutes or so, where you don’t feel out of breath. To back this up if you swim gently you burn about 6 calories per minute. Times that by 30 minutes (30 x 6) and you burn 180 calories (equivalent of a glass of wine)!
If you swim front crawl at a higher/faster pace doing say a length (25 metres) in 25-30 secs, you would burn approx 10 calories per minute, if you did that for 30 minutes then you would burn 300 calories.
HOWEVER, as you are going at a much faster pace, it’s not possible to keep going for 30 minutes (this would be asking you to sprint for 30 minutes – sprinters only sprint for 20 secs or so, hence we do the short intervals. If you did eight intervals of fast swimming you’d burn approx. 80 calories in 8 minutes (8 x 60 seconds fast pace at 10 calories per minute) and burn 48 calories during your slow gentle swims (in between the fast ones).
That would total 128 Calories in 16 minutes ( 8 x 60 secs fast pace, 8 x 60 secs slow pace). So you can see you burn nearly as many calories in half the time of doing slow gentle swimming for 30 minutes!
You can also try skipping, cycling or running.
The actual Tabata training is based on eight 20 second bursts of exercise done at the highest level you can with eight ten second rest periods to make up four minutes. This is known as the four minute workout. HOWEVER, it is NOT suitable if you’ve just had a baby or for people who are not fit.
Instead follow the following variations:
Always WARM -Up first for 3-5 minutes at a slow pace and perform dynamic stretches and after the workout cool down at a slow pace for 2-3 minutes and stretch
Introductory: (for twelve weeks post natal if you exercised before your pregnancy)
30 secs fast
2 minutes – slow
Repeat 4 times
Beginner: (for minimum twelve weeks post natal if you exercised before and during your pregnancy)
30 secs fast
60 secs slow
Repeat 5 -6 times
Intermediate: (for sixteen weeks plus post natal and if you feel fit and exercised before and during your pregnancy)
60 secs – fast
60 secs – slow
Repeat 6 times
Advanced: (for minimum five months plus post natal and if you feel fit and exercised before and during your pregnancy)
45-60 secs flat out
30 secs – slow
Repeat 6-8 times
Considerations if you’ve just had a baby!
• You must, you must do your pelvic floor exercises – especially if you are doing higher impact activities such as running.
• Listen to your body – you experience any short, sharp pain or chest pains you must stop immediately.