If you’re like me, you probably focus more on merrymaking (i.e., sleeping and eating) than training over the holidays. I’ve been trying to be really good in terms of diet and exercise leading in to the inevitable, cheerful sloth in which I intend to indulge very soon. Being a teacher has its perks, one of which this year is an extra-long holiday break.
Here’s a workout I’ve repeated several times over the past few weeks. I think it could be in the running for the perfect workout. Sure, it’s important to mix things up so as to avoid plateaus and boredom (I just can’t bring myself to use the term, muscle confusion). But The Sweet 16, based on the tabata training protocol, is my go-to workout right now.
What is the Sweet 16?
This workout is one I read about in Infinite Intensity by Ross Enamait. It’s pretty simple, really. You string together four sets of tabata intervals in a row. (If you’re new to this type of training, tabata intervals consist of eight sets of 20 second intervals of exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest). Each tabata interval is four minutes long. That gives you a 16-minute workout, hence the name.
Here’s a basic version that provides a good explanation for the uninitiated.
Why is it Effective?
The 20/10 ratio is proven to improve your anerobic endurance due to the intensity of the work periods. Doing a normal tabata set (4 minutes) also improves your aerobic endurance, as the four-minute set forces you to maintain intensity over a longer period than just sprinting requires. The Sweet 16 is unique because it also builds muscular endurance. Sixteen minutes of a repetitive exercise will definitely make you feel the burn! I guess it should really be called the “Sweat 16”! (Sorry.)
What Exercises Should I Perform?
Any exercises will do. It depends on what your focus is for your training session. I would recommend four different exercises–one for each tabata “set”. This way, you won’t completely burn out a muscle group–thus ruining your ability to complete the cardio portion of the workout.
Here are some workouts I’ve done. Each has its advantages, as the focus is different in each.
Anaerobic/Muscle Endurance 1
- jumping squats
- mountain climbers
Anaerobic/Muscle Endurance 2
- kicks on heavy bag
- punches on heavy bag
- jump rope
- kettlebell swings
- high knees with dumbbells
- Burn Machine
You can also complete The Sweet 16 on a track, elliptical machine, stationary bike, or rower. There are really no limitations on how creative–an how strenuous–your workouts can be. Keep in mind that given the intensity of the exercises and the strain cause by the repetitive sets (eight sets of 20 seconds per tabata interval) your form will deteriorate pretty quickly. That’s okay though, as you’re really trying to work your cardiovascular and muscular endurance. Keep a chair by your pullup bar, and don’t be ashamed to do half-squats and pushups on your knees. With sweat and practice, each workout will get easier–or at least each will be a little more attainable. When that happens, shake things up and try something new!
Questions, comments, suggested exercises? Let us know! Let these workouts help you stay healthy during your end-of-the-year festivities. Happy Holidays!