To help bring in the Chinese New Year, I thought I'd share with you all a great workout that I like to perform on occasion, which features some high intensity 'Tabata' style intervals. The whole thing only takes around 20 minutes, so its quick, efficient, but very intense...You'll be working like a horse! :-)
A 'Tabata' interval uses an extremely effective 2:1 work/rest ratio, where you exert hard for 20 seconds and then take 10 seconds rest. This is repeated a total of 8 times, making each interval last around 4 minutes.
Spend a couple of minutes mobilising the major joints of the body from feet to head. This helps stimulate a smooth and full range of motion - especially if you've been sat in the office all day!
Interval 1: Jump Rope
Simply skip (single unders) for 20 seconds and take 10 seconds rest - repeat 8 times. A fairly easy one to kick off with that also doubles up as a general warm up.
Interval 2: Burpees & Jump Rope
After no more than 1 min rest, begin interval 2. Perform as many burpees as you can in 20 seconds, take ten seconds rest and then grab the rope again for 20 seconds of skipping with fast alternating high knees. Work between these two exercises for a total of 8 rounds. This one really gets the blood pumping!
Interval 3: Bulgarian Bag Spins
Take another minute or two rest and then make a start on interval 3. Spin the bag clockwise on the first round and then anti-clockwise on the second. Repeat with alternating spins until 8 rounds have been completed. If you don't have a Bulgarian bag then you can substitute with kettlebell circular cleans or dumbbell wood choppers - anything that challenges torso rotation.
Interval 4: Heavy Bag or Pads
To finish off, the last Tabata interval is to strike the heavy bag (or impact shield/focus mitts/Thai pads if you have a training partner) as fast and as hard as possible in the following manner...
The Final Blast
straight after interval 4 (i.e. no rest whatsoever), hit the bag/pad with 10 full power hook punches with the left hand followed by 10 full power hook punches with the right. Don't hold back here - give it absolutely everything you've got...shout, scream and spit fire, trying your very best to ensure that every shot has knock-out potential!
Light Stretch & Warm Down
As with all intense workouts, you should congratulate yourself afterwards by gradually bringing your heart rate back down to normal and treating yourself to some light stretching, whilst your body is warm and supple.
There's a lot to be said for these kind of fast and intense training sessions. They're also excellent for martial artists who like to train for self-defence, emphasising short bursts of 100% effort. You should be done within max. 25 minutes and no more. Remember, it's not how long you spend training, but what you do when you are training that counts...so the aim is to walk in enthused and with a positive frame of mind, do the business and then drag your exhausted (but satisfied) body back out again!
Work hard, be safe and above all, have fun :-)
Chris Denwood has been studying martial arts since childhood and specialises in the practical application of karate's traditional principles for civilian self-defence, personal development, life integration and discovery.