The key to rocking shoulder-baring sweaters and blouses this season is pairing them with a strong, toned upper body.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to speed hours in the gym to achieve an eye-catching upper body. What you need is a challenging workout—one that cranks up the intensity on your muscles and eliminates every last ounce of flab. Enter Tabata training, also known as the 4-minute fat-burning workout. There’s a reason this type of high-intensity interval training is the go-to when you want to shed pounds and tone up fast—it works!

GETTING STARTED

A Tabata workout (not including warm up and cool down) involves performing 20 seconds of high intensity exercise followed by 10 seconds of active recovery. You repeat this cycle eight times, for a total of 4 minutes of very short, intense bursts of exercise. In this particular workout, you’ll complete two Tabatas, for a total of 8 minutes of high-intensity intervals.

WHAT YOU NEED

  • Dumbbells. Choose a weight that’s light enough to perform back-to-back sets, but heavy enough to take you to failure.
  • A Tabata timer or stop watch.

Round 1

Works: Back, Biceps, Shoulders*

Exercise 1

woman lifting weights

Dumbbell Row – As many as you can in 20 seconds.

Stand with your feet slightly narrower than shoulder width apart and bend forward at the hips, keeping your back parallel to the floor and head up. Grasp a dumbbell in each hand and let your arms hang straight down from your shoulders. Pull the weights up and back toward your hips, concentrating on pulling with your back muscles, until your elbows are slightly above the level of your back. Pause, then lower the weights. Repeat for reps.

Active Rest: Jump on a treadmill or walk in place for 10 seconds.

Exercise 2

Overhead Shoulder Press – As many as you can in 20 seconds.

Stand erect with your feet shoulder-width apart, head straight, and your eyes focused forward. Grasp a pair of dumbbells using an overhand (palms down) grip and raise them to just above shoulder height. This is your starting position. Keeping your shoulders back, press your arms up overhead. Pause for a moment at the top, then return to start. Repeat for reps.

Active Rest: Jump on a treadmill or walk in place for 10 seconds.

Repeat sequence for a total of 4 minutes.

*Warm up for 5 minutes on the treadmill beforehand.

Round 2

Works: Triceps, Chest, Core, Shoulders*

Exercise 1

Pike Walk – As many as you can in 20 seconds.

Stand with your feet together, arms at your side. Bend at the hips and place your hands on the floor in front of you. Walk your hands forward until you are in a plank position. Keeping your hands firmly planted in place, walk your feet up until they’re as close to your hands as possible. Repeat.

Active Rest: Jump on a treadmill or walk in place for 10 seconds.

Exercise 2

Dip – As many as you can in 20 seconds.

Place your hands on the edge of a bench with your thumbs facing each other, and extend your legs in front of you, resting your feet on floor in front of you. Bend your elbows and lower your butt, stopping when your upper arms are parallel to the floor. Extend your elbows to come up. Repeat for reps.
Tip: To increase the intensity, use a bench or chair to elevate your feet. You can also place a weight on top your thighs.

Active Rest: Jump on a treadmill or walk in place for 10 seconds.

Repeat sequence for a total of 4 minutes.

*Cool down for 5 minutes on the treadmill afterward.

Although 8 minutes may not seem like a lot, you’ll certainly feel the burn. This form of training can be used for virtually any and every exercise. Apply this training protocol to your regular workouts every once in a while to shake things up and break through dreaded plateaus.



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