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Tabata Sprints and Streamlining Work Outs

August 4, 2011

My younger brother enlisted in the marines this past spring and will be shipping off to Paris Island in Janurary for boot camp. He’s been whipping himself into shape to prepare, with the knowledge that he can probably never be fully ready for what he will go through.

So when I was home last week I decided to do him the kind favor of kicking his butt down at the track with a quick, painful sprinting workout. Your welcome Matty!

I’ve been reading about high intensity interval training (HIIT) and Tabata sprints for some time but hadn’t given them a try until the other day. I really do love a good challenge, and don’t necessarily hate the pain of pushing myself to exhaustion, so once a week I’ve been doing stair sprints or hill sprints, but Tabata sprinting is a bit different… in the worst best way possible.

We jogged a half mile to the track and began the workout, which sounds MUCH easier than it actually was…

20 seconds of maximum all out sprinting followed by 10 second rest.

Repeat for 8 repetitions and a total of 4 minutes. You can do more than one cycle but we were spent. Instead we finished up with some body weight exercises and jogging.

A 4 minute workout that will bring you near puking! I never once was near puking during marathon training (except the 4 hours post race- the most nauseous I’ve ever been). 


I’m starting to realize that working out does not need to take over one’s life to be effective. Training was practically a part time job last year, and I’m honestly glad to be in the next phase of my athletic pursuits. I went from 2 hour runs to 4 minute sprints and couldn’t be more content.


Lately my typical routine has consisted of biking everywhere I go, an occasional longer bike ride, 2 full body strength sessions outdoors, and one day of sprinting. Nothing else. Less than 3 hours of dedicated exercise a week coupled with lifestyle movement is all I need. I’ve loved not being tied down to a training regimen and having the freedom to experiment with fun kinds of fitness!


How many hours a week do you consciously workout? Have you ever streamlined your workouts or anything else in your life?

13 Comments leave one →
  1. ittybitsofbalance permalink
    August 4, 2011 8:54 am

    Girl, you just said the new motto of my life. So many people are under the impression that they need to work out a million hours a week for it to be effective, but that is not the case at all.
    I’m literally down to 3 days a week and I feel stronger than ever 🙂

    • Katie permalink*
      August 4, 2011 3:11 pm

      That’s awesome! I agree, and glad you’ve found a good balance also 🙂

  2. August 4, 2011 10:02 am

    I would love to be able to workout everyday, because my days are never the same without a great workout, but I know that rest days are necessary. I would say I normally exercise about 5 days a week. I just crave that post exercise feeling every morning, you know? It’s not about weight loss or trying to turn myself into the ultimate fitness guru. A lot of it is for my mental sanity! In my favorite spinning class, we do Tabata sprints, and I love it! It kicks our asses. I’ve fallen in love with HIIT, so I’ve been doing a lot of cardio lately. Today I’m hitting the weights! It’s all about balance. I’m glad you found yours! 🙂

    • Katie permalink*
      August 4, 2011 3:11 pm

      Yes, I agree with you about the mental sanity. I can’t sit still and get antsy when I don’t workout. But even if its an easy bike ride, or some pushups… I’m good for the day!

  3. August 4, 2011 2:43 pm

    I do yoga everyday because I love it. Paired with lots of veggies and walking I feel healthy. It’s amazing what chaturanga and plank can do for your arms!

    • Katie permalink*
      August 4, 2011 3:10 pm

      Yoga is a great, simple workout. I love it too!

  4. spoonfulofsugarfree permalink
    August 4, 2011 4:20 pm

    Glad to hear that you found a workout that suits your body.

    Because I am training for tennis at a higher level (tournaments on weekends…stuff like that), I work out a lot. I play three hours of tennis everyday followed by thirty minutes of either a swim workout, sprint and agility, or long distance running. Then I also do an extra 45 minutes of weights 2 or 3 times a week (depending on tournament schedule). It sounds like a lot, but it is normal for what I do.

    • Katie permalink*
      August 4, 2011 8:35 pm

      That’s intense! But if its what makes you happy (and I’m sure it does considering how dedicated you are to it) then that’s what matters. I used to train about that much for skating before I went off to college. I do miss being in a competitive sport a lot!

  5. August 4, 2011 9:39 pm

    I workout from 6 to 12 hours a week. It’s really because I genuinely enjoy working out — I love to run, I love to try new things like cycling and zumba, and I love to lift weights. I don’t like to let it get in the way though and I’m willing to streamline them if time is a concern. Tabata is one of my favorite ways to do that! I’ve actually never tried it with running — and I’m a die hard runner, you would think I would! I usually do them on the elliptical or bike since I tend to slack on my intensity on those. It is a heck of a workout, that’s for sure!

  6. August 4, 2011 9:56 pm

    As soon as my marathon training is done I’m definitely going to try and incorporate some more sprint workouts into in my routine. It would definitely be a nice a break from running mile after mile 🙂

  7. August 5, 2011 5:59 am

    Question – when you say “rest,” do you mean a walk, or a slow jog?

    And – I love streamlined workouts, too. I don’t think I could see myself ever waking up at 4:00 in the morning just to get in a 45+ minute workout or 5+ mile run…but I do wake up just a hair earlier so I can get in a short but high-intensity workout (BodyRock) or mayyybe a short 2 mile run! I get bored easily with working out if it’s not running, so the BodyRock workouts are perfect, and still whoop my butt 😉 I have Tues/Thurs and weekends off so those are my running days.

    • Katie permalink*
      August 5, 2011 7:55 am

      Well by the time we slowed down from the sprint and walked for what felt like 2 seconds it was time to sprint again. That’s what makes them so difficult is the break is so short. So it was a walk to answer your question, but you could do either I suppose. Now, BodyRock sounds interesting… similar to body pump I’m assuming? I wish I had some classes offered at my gym, I think they look like a ton of fun. P.s. thanks for fishing me out of spam! Hope it doesn’t keep happening…

  8. matt kiely permalink
    August 7, 2011 12:37 pm

    theres a motto in the corps- “embrace the suck” and these sprints definitely embody that wonderful phrase. take it from me: i experienced it first hand.


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