This Easy, 4-Minute Workout Can Jump-Start Your Weight Loss

Americans are busier than ever and working longer hours than ever before. Fitting in a workout amidst the hustle and bustle of everyday life often feels impossible, and many compromise your health and wellbeing as a result.

We’re often searching for the easy fix to our weight loss goals. This 4-minute workout features whole-body moves that don’t require weights or a gym, but simply your body and your willpower. Check out our minute-by-minute instructions (starting on page 2), then check out our handy beginner’s tips.

The type of workout: Tabata

Man performing push ups

You’ll definitely work up a sweat with this workout. | iStock.com

  • High intensity interval training maximizes calorie burn

Tabata training was discovered by Japanese scientist Dr. Izumi Tabata and a team of researchers from the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo. Tabata and his researchers assigned a group to work out four days a week using the Tabata workout. Over the course of six weeks, the group increased their anaerobic system by 28% compared to those who followed a more conventional workout.

Tabata is a type of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) that alternates 20 seconds of intense, anaerobic exercise with 10 seconds of rest. Each round lasts four minutes. The American College of Sports Medicine notes that HIIT workouts like Tabata tend to burn 6% to 15% percent more calories compared to other workouts, thanks to the calories you burn after you exercise. Pick any exercise and go all-out for 20 seconds; we’re talking 100% effort.

Minute 1

Woman Doing Mountain Climber Exercise

These exercises only require a timer and your bodyweight. | iStock.com/Aleksander Kaczmarek

  • 20 seconds jumping lunges, 10 seconds rest
  • 20 seconds mountain climbers, 10 seconds rest

Start with jumping lunges. They’re an easy, familiar exercise that requires no more than your body weight and a timer. Regular lunges provide the glute burn, but adding a jump in between alternating legs will increase the cardio factor. Follow 20 seconds of jumping lunges with a 10-second rest, either stepping side-to-side or resting stationary.

Move into mountain climbers for the second half of the minute. Bring one leg up towards your chest, mirroring a sprinter’s start position. Keeping your hands on the ground and jump to alternate your legs. Quickly touch your toes down instead of placing your whole foot to maximize reps.

Minute 2

group of three people doing jumping jacks in the park on a beautiful day

You can burn fat at a rapid rate while doing jumping jacks. | iStock.com

  • 20 seconds jumping jacks, 10 seconds rest
  • 20 seconds ice skaters, 10 seconds rest

Jumping jacks are the perfect Tabata exercise; their primary benefit is that they elevate your heart rate. According to Livestrong, you breathe deeper while jumping, delivering oxygen to your bloodstream and muscles. You’ll burn fat at a rapid rate and promote weight loss.

Ice skaters” or “speed skaters” are a great, full-body move that works your hips, glutes, and quads while raising your heart rate. Stand with your feet a bit farther than shoulder-width apart, knees bent slightly, and your arms by your side. Hop over to your right foot and lift your left leg behind and to the right while simultaneously swinging your left arm in front of you and right arm straight out to side. Next, do the same thing hopping to the left. Pick up the pace and continue to alternate sides, simulating a skating motion.

Minute 3

Man jumping rope

Jumping rope is pretty close to a full body workout. | iStock.com

  • 20 seconds jumping rope, 10 seconds rest
  • 20 seconds jump squats, 10 seconds rest

The joy of childhood jump roping meets the pain of adulthood cardio. Jump rope as fast as you can, using whatever foot pattern you prefer, to raise your heart rate and improve your coordination. Make sure your rope is long enough before you start to prevent breaking up your workout by tripping over the rope. To check for proper length, stand in the center of your rope and pull the handles straight up. They should come at least as high as your armpits.

Aspiring NBA players, this one’s for you. Jump squats are an intense, full-body move that mainly tone your glutes, quads, hamstrings, and abs. Start with your feet a bit wider than shoulder-width apart. Start by standing tall, then coming down into a squatting position with your thighs slightly higher than your knees. Quickly explode into the air; mid-air, your body should be as straight as possible. Land in the squat position.

Minute 4

Woman about to perform a burpee

There’s a reason the burpee has stood the test of time. | Shironosov/iStock/Getty Images

  • 20 seconds burpees, 10 seconds rest
  • 20 seconds tricep push-ups, 10 seconds rest

We all love to hate burpees, and the only thing that makes this move more challenging is doing as many as possible in 20 seconds. Challenge accepted. Start with feet hip-distance apart and bring your palms to the floor. Jump your feet back to hit your high plank, lower into a push-up, then push back into your high plank. Jump your feet to the outside of your hands and stand by jumping as high as possible.

After a 10-second rest move to the ground for tricep push-ups. Begin in a plank position and keep your core engaged. Bend your elbows behind you and lower your chest to the floor. Keep your upper arms tight to your body so your elbows are pressed against your ribs to engage your triceps. Return to plank position and repeat for the next 20 seconds.

Tips for beginners

close up of a a runner on a treadmill

Start out on the treadmill. | iStock.com

  • Start with an exercise you’re comfortable with

You can use the Tabata interval method with almost any exercise and enough willpower. A crucial mistake many new-timers make is attempting difficult exercises from the start. “These workouts will … show you exactly why shorter doesn’t always equate to easier,” Joe Vennare, a fitness professional and co-founder of The Hybrid Athlete, reminds beginners.

Start with an exercise you’re comfortable with like sprinting on the treadmill. Get a good timer (don’t attempt to self-time, it’ll reduce your effectiveness) and set yourself up with a mantra to focus on.

Why it’s so effective

Woman relaxing after workout

You’ll still be burning calories after you’ve completed your workout. | iStock.com

  • Keep burning calories after you complete your workout

Tabata is extremely effective because it follows a HIIT structure. High-intensity interval training burns fat quicker because it requires your body to work harder to get back to your resting state, EPOC, or excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. This means that you’re still burning calories after you finish exercising.

“It’s a quicker interval method on steroids,” said Michele Olson, Ph.D., an exercise science professor at ‎Auburn University Montgomery. “Since the intensity is all-out, 100 percent effort, taking you into the aerobic-plus zone, it requires less time [than other workouts to be effective] and also provides a bigger afterburn.”

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