How We Complicate Weight-loss

weightloss

Sometimes we have a knack for making things more complicated than necessary. And, once in a while, we read things that make us think that just maybe things really are complicated.  I remember a time not too long ago when I struggled with weight-loss myself. I remember clearly thinking at one point in my mid-thirties “is keeping my weight down just simply out of my control”.  Without completely understanding how to do it properly I felt lost, confused, and very frustrated.

When I read through an article on Flipboard this morning, the bleak outlook that was painted triggered those old feelings, and made me empathize with anyone who is now caught in that all-to-familiar spiral.

You can read the full story here, but here’s a sample of the content

If you’re one of the millions of people struggling to lose weight, the latest news probably isn’t helping your motivation much. I’m talking about two recently published articles, both backed by rigorous research, that paint a grim picture around weight loss and exercise. But don’t throw in the towel just yet. They don’t tell the full story.

In case you’re not familiar with the articles I’m talking about, here’s a quick recap:

Article 1: The New York Times

The New York Times article looked at former contestants on “The Biggest Loser” and concluded that almost all of them regained the weight they’d lost on the show. The article reasons that after drastic weight loss, two things happen that make weight gain almost inevitable:

1.Resting metabolism decreases (so you burn fewer calories).

2.Hunger and cravings increase, thanks to plummeting levels of leptin, the hormone that controls hunger.

“As long as you are below your initial weight, your body is going to try to get you back,” says Dr. Michael Schwartz in the article.

Article 2: Vox

In the second article, writers at Vox claim that exercise does not work for weight loss. It concludes “exercise is excellent for health, but it’s not important for weight loss” by citing 60+ supporting studies. The article reads much like a compilation of what I’ve been writing about for years. It even includes some identical messages, such as why counting calories from exercise will sabotage your weight-loss goals and why you should focus on diet, not exercise.

Still, I found myself upset after reading both of these articles—not because of what they said, but because of what they didn’t say. They omit half of the story, leaving readers with only one conclusion to infer: We’re f*cked! Your exercise has been for naught. And if somehow you actually do lose weight, expect the pounds to creep back on, because you’re fighting a losing battle against biology.

Most people take away two really impactful “truths” from this. 1) Once you start losing weight, your body will work against you to get you back to where you started and 2) exercise is pointless with regard to weight-loss.

Like the author of the blog post that cited these articles, I, too, have lost 30 lbs. and kept it off. For 8 years now.  While I’ll agree that the longest route to weight-loss and the quickest one to frustration is to solely rely on steady state cardio as a means to stay thin, I can’t say that I identify AT ALL with the first statement.  In fact, I pay very close attention to cravings and food addictions, and I have no personal experience that simply losing weight had any impact on the frequency and intensity of cravings.  Now, I can’t dismiss that what was said was scientific fact, that’s certainly possible, I just didn’t notice is to any extent that I found it demoralizing in my own efforts.

In fact, I would argue that cravings are more a function of your eating habits and routines than your body screaming for nutrients.

So before you throw your hands in the air and order a large pizza in celebratory defeat, let’s check to see just how well you conform to the true principles of long term weight loss. Perhaps you’ll realize that your frustration comes from the wrong approach rather than your body working against you.

  1. Do you strength train? – if you have any history with my blog you know I’m a staunch supporter of strength training. To the extent that it’s worth repeating that if I could only do one form of exercise, it would win out over cardio every day of the week.
  2. Do you do HIIT training? – I’m not sure why this hasn’t taken root in our society since ‘time’ is seemingly our most precious commodity, but to get outstanding results, a tremendous sense of accomplishment, a feeling of total exhaustion, and get it in only a fraction of the time? I don’t know how this is the bestselling idea since indoor plumbing.
  3. Are you eating clean? – You want to ratchet up your cravings? Eat exclusively processed, sugar-laden pre-packed foods. See if your brain doesn’t go nuts trying to get you to repeat that behavior. Similarly, want to crush your cravings, give your body clean, whole foods. Your body doesn’t raise the cravings flag when it’s getting the nutrients it needs to run efficiently.
  4. Do you say “no”? – Let’s face, life can be a succession of mine fields when you’re trying to eat a clean diet, especially now that the warmer weather is here (well, almost). You can’t go a day without someone shoving delicious treats and high fat animal protein in your face. If you’re not saying no with regularity, you’re giving your brain a reason to light up like a Christmas tree with all the fat and sugar, not only leading to a whole sack of calories, but subsequent cravings.
  5. Are you monitoring? – We at FC99 are huge proponents of living mindfully and tracking what we do. What we eat, how much eat, how often we move, how our weight changes, etc. If you’re not mindful of these things, it’s almost impossible to progress. You need to know what you’re doing each week and getting feedback from it. That’s how you make the necessary course corrections.

I’ve said this in the past.  Permanent weight-loss, in theory, is very easy. In application, it’s difficult because it requires significant changes in habits that are deeply rooted in our lives and culture.  However, all of that is simply habitual and can be changed, we just have to know how to do and to give it enough time to take root in place of the poor habits we’ve built.

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5 Ways To Increase Your Motivation

motivation

One of the most common weight-loss questions is “how to stay motivated?”.  It definitely makes the top 3 list and is one of the most important pieces of the puzzle.  Sure, most of us can white knuckle through a week of clean eating and working out, but long term success comes from translating that into a life-long commitment.

To help satisfy this oft-asked question, here are the top 5 sources of motivation for me.

  • Calorie Tracking – I don’t know why so many weight loss programs are so quick to advertise “no counting calories!” It’s as if this simple and impactful activity is time-consuming and tedious. While this may have been the case a decade or two ago, using a free app on your smartphone has reduced it to child’s play.  I literally spend 1 minute a day logging what I eat and the payback is phenomenal.  It holds you accountable to your target, it opens your eyes to what you’re eating, and it makes it snap to recognize easy swaps that can make a big impact on your intake
  • Activity Tracking – For the same basic awareness principle as calorie tracking, understanding how many calories you’re burning each week is the other side of the puzzle (the calories out vs. the calories in above). Quite simply, it will make you aware of your intensity and your total calorie expenditure both of which will make you more aware of how long it takes to burn off a simple 20oz bottle of soda.  Knowing that will make you want to skip it.  Again, it’s about awareness
  • A well-constructed plan – Sadly, it’s entirely too common for people to have no plan at all. Instead, trying to live by the concept of moderation, which is not only imprecise, but completely underestimated.  A well-constructed plan (which will count calories, track workouts, have goals, consider macronutrient ratios, food quality, and many other elements) will keep you motivated by not only keeping you accountable, but by providing you with a specific road-map rather than wandering blindly without results.  A plan of simple moderation will allow you to have birthday cake at an office party on a whim.  A well-constructed plan will have a time when that’s allowed, but will not give you carte blanche access to derailing treats.
  • Friendly Competition – nothing motivates like a little competition. Grab a friend and do a class or go through a strength training workout together. Without even giving much though, I bet you find that you automatically up your intensity when you know someone else is watching.  That’s just inherent to our nature.
  • Results – Nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing (for me) motivates like results. I dare you to find success in a 3 week program and completely fall off in week 4 (this will ONLY happen if your plan is entirely too restrictive or entirely too grueling). The key is to have a well-constructed plan that you can live with long term.  If you can master that, than the results will keep you hanging on like nothing else.

Having trouble losing weight? We can help! Check out our online coaching page. For what you’d pay for a single session with a trainer we’ll create a tailored program and help you course correct as needed.

Don’t want to make major changes? Check out our Mindful Living Program. The easiest weight-loss program you’ll ever need.

5 Reasons You Need To Be Strength Training

dumbbells

For most of us (I may dare to say all of us), there is a vanity element to weight management.  Sure, we love the ancillary benefits like lower blood pressure, stress relief, and higher bone density, but honestly, a lot of it boils down to looking and feeling great.  That being the case, I’m always surprised to learn that most people identify ‘working out’ with steady state cardio.  People are quick to talk about going for a run or hitting the treadmill/elliptical, especially women.

Sadly, I think the biggest general objection to strength training is the fear of getting big muscles (again, especially woman). The truth is, though, it takes an extreme amount of dedication to diet and exercise to get in ‘body building ‘shape, far far far more than most of us would commit to without that being the end-goal.  Therefore, it’s impossible to do it ‘by accident’.

Even more sadly, we over look weight training which, as it turns out, is the best way to alter our current bodies.  Sure, steady state cardio can help lose fat, but strength training will help change overall body composition, giving us sexy lean muscle mass that not only looks healthy, but creates body symmetry.

I believe in strength training so much that if I had to choose between it and cardio as my sole means to work out, I would choose strength training without a second thought.

To prove this point, here are 5 great reasons you should be strength training, either as the basis for your routine or, at very least, as supplemental training.

  • Lean muscle is more expensive – The more muscle you add, the more calories your body burns, even at rest. (remember, adding muscle doesn’t mean adding size, it means replacing fat with high density muscles tissue that takes up less room but eats more calories.  So your body still shrinks in overall size, not swells)
  • Energy and Mood boosting – Strength training elevates endorphin levels, which make you feel happy. Strength training has shown to be a natural anti-depressant
  • Stronger Tendons, ligaments, and bones – it will help you stay fit and strong, especially as you age, when the body naturally loses muscularity and balance. It also improves posture and coordination.
  • Helps with disease prevention as we age – Studies have shown it can help type 2 diabetics with glucose control, can help with arthritis pain, and reduce the risk of bone fractures.
  • Okay, Fine, you’ll look amazing – Let’s not deny the number one motivation for working out. To look and feel great! Strength training can change your body, and for the better.  Stop thinking body building and start thinking fitness models.  And for those that will say oh they’re too skinny or too ripped, that’s a function of diet, it’s VERY hard to get that low in body fat.  Without a perfect diet you will simply look slim, fit, and healthy.  Far better than if you only did long sessions of steady state cardio, which will make you look thin and stringy (think: distance runners)

It’s time to stop associating weight/strength training with Arnold and his fellow body builders and start recognizing that the lean healthy bodies that you envy in magazines are built by fitness routines that regularly include strength training.

 
Having trouble losing weight? We can help! Check out our online coaching page. For what you’d pay for a single session with a trainer we’ll create a tailored program and help you course correct as needed.

Don’t want to make major changes? Check out our Mindful Living Program. The easiest weight-loss program you’ll ever need.

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Victoria Secret Models Diet And Exercise Just Like We Do. Oh, OK!

va

A few comments on a recent article that was written by Jordi Lippe from Hollywood Take, you can read it here.  I’m not sure what I expected to read, but I figured  the main idea would be simply that they don’t do anything outside what I consider sensible weight management.  Clean diet, a strong exercise program, and clear and measureable goals.  Afterall, we only make this more complicated than it is because we’re bombarded with Marketing pitches and misinformation with the intention of selling empty promises.  By the time I finished this relatively short article, however, I was a little confused on the point.  Here’s why:

Victoria’s Secret models Elsa Hosk and Jasmine Tookes have the kinds of bodies that send countless women running to the gym. But the VS hotties aren´t exactly limiting their diets to carrots and celery!

Hollywood Take caught up with the two beauties at a Valentine´s Day Gift Picks event at Victoria’s Secret Herald Square, and they told us they love to indulge in high-calorie meals like the rest of us do.

“I don’t avoid carbs,” Jasmine Tookes, 25, told HT. “Give me carbs! I love pizza.” 

Fellow Angel Elsa Hosk, 27, couldn’t agree more. “I don’t avoid carbs,” she told us. “I have a crazy indulgence that I do a little bit too often. I get a grilled cheese sandwich at Chelsea Market at a place called Lucy’s Whey almost every day. It’s so good! But if I have an important shoot, I’ll cut down on my grilled cheese sandwiches.”

Okay, so they know how to work in cheat meals (so do I) while keeping a really strong and principled program.  Hoorah!  But wait, after reading this, did you get the wrong message? Did this justify indulgences?  I came out of this thinking wow, they only workout three days a week and eat pizza and grilled cheese.

That’s obviously not what’s going on.  While they do have the benefit of being young, you really need to keep on point to keep body fat percentages that low.  So while the message is great that you don’t have to give up everything to keep thin, I would be careful in over estimating how clean people in this shape have to be.  If you are anything like me, this article made you want to hit the local pizzeria for a fresh slice!

Having trouble losing weight?  We can help! Check out our online coaching page.  For what you’d pay for a single session with a trainer we’ll create a tailored program and help you course correct as needed.

Don’t want to make major changes? Check out our Mindful Living Program.  The easiest weight-loss program you’ll ever need.


 
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Should You Give Up Dairy To Lose Weight?

dairy

This was the title of a recent article by Julie Stewart from fitness magazine.  She writes “Here’s a surprising statistic: One in 10 millennials are vegan, according to a report in Nutrition Business Journal. Call it a lifestyle or call it an elimination diet—either way, it’s picking up steam due in part to like backers like Beyoncé. (Who doesn’t want to be a little more like Queen Bey?!) And even Khloé Kardashian recently claimed that she lost 11 pounds just by cutting cheese and milk from her diet.”

Having backers like Beyonce, Khloe, and social media tends to send things viral:

“Social media has also spread the word about blogs and other media touting veganism. Many restaurants have added vegan options, and stores are stocking more plant-based substitutes for meat, dairy, and egg products, eliminating some of the roadblocks that used to make vegan diets hard to stick to, she says.

Ditching dairy for environmental or animal welfare reasons is totally a personal choice, but going vegan as a way to lose weight is a little more complicated. Just because it worked for Khloé doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll have the same effect on you.”

Aside from the obvious rebuttal that dairy does have its benefits by being good sources of Vitamin D (something too many of us are showing deficiency) and calcium, if your diet is already a mess, simply removing dairy isn’t going to do much good.  This is true for any one type of food you may read to eliminate (or add, as is the case with the recent study showing protein consumption will aide in fat-loss).  PS, this is certainly not a knock against veganism, this is more of a warning to those with a traditional diet to be careful about removing categories of food without understand the role it plays in your diet and, more importantly, to be more aware of what else you’re eating.

The best approach for weight-loss is to be sensible.  Eat a wide variety of food to ensure you’re getting all the necessary vitamins and minerals.  Cut back on processed foods and added sugars, get your exercise, and watch your calories.

This is what it’s meant to live mindfully, and you can check out our full Mindful Living program here.

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3 Easy Ways To Cut Calories

calories

If you’re a believer in the pure mathematical approach to weight-loss: “burn more calories than you consume”, then your daily calorie count is of utmost importance.  By now, it’s common knowledge that to lose 1lb per week, you need to create a daily deficit of 500 calories.  Too many people think exercise alone will help, but even a good 30 minutes will only yield you about 300 calories.  If that’s not enough, add the fact that we tend to eat more after exercise, both due to physiological reasons and our own belief in ‘rewards’.   As such, the best way to help offset calorie surplus is to leverage proper diet.  Since many of us are averse to adopting major changes to our daily habits, here are three quick ways to help create the necessary deficit:

  1. Do not drink your calories – If you’re not a food label lover or being mindful of what you eat and drink, you might be surprised how many calories are in your beverages. If you’re drinking sugary drinks with your meals (fruit juice, soda), energy drinks after workouts, or high calorie dessert beverages (think large coffee bar drinks or smoothies) you’re almost assuredly drinking more than 500 calories a day.  Eliminating these and sticking to regular coffee, tea, water and seltzer (diet soda is bad, stop soda altogether) will not only help cut calories but will help improve your overall health and sense of well-being.
  2. Switch to non-fat dairy – 1 gram of fat carries 9 calories (compare that to 4 calories per gram for both protein and carbs), so if your diet is rich in milk, cheese, yogurt, etc. using low fat or fat free versions can save you a bunch. choose-myplate-selected-consumer-messages-51-728
  3. PrePlan your Snacks and exercise portion control – Although some of us do fine with simply eating 2 to 3 meals a day, most of us snack up to 3 times per day. If handled properly, this is a great way to keep blood sugar and energy levels stable.  The problem is that too few of us actually plan snacks and simply wing it by pulling something off the checkout counter or vending machine.  These types of items are typically empty calories, and offer way too many for their serving size.  Preplanning your snacks and making healthy choices will fulfill your need to eat, as well as provide nutrients that will help you feel full. Making better choices can easily shave 100 calorie off of each snack time.

These tricks are part of what it means to live mindfully, and you can check out our full Mindful Living program here.

Also check out our 30 day fat shred program and our online coaching page.

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5 Sugary Things You Need To Avoid

soda

I recently did a post talking about all the conflicting information available with regard to Nutrition and Exercise. While there will continue to be controversy over extremes (anything from Paleo to Low-Fat dieting), one of the few universal things we all agree on is our need to significantly cut down on added Sugars.

Ellie Krieger of the Washington Post writes “Beyond adding empty calories and spiking blood glucose, which can contribute to weight gain and the myriad health issues linked with that, eating sugar dramatically increases your risk of dying from a heart attack. A major study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2014 found that people who ate close to 20 percent of their daily calories from added sugar had a whopping 38 percent higher risk of dying from heart disease than those who ate half as much. (For clarity, I am talking about added, refined sugar here — the concentrated sweetener put into foods, as opposed to the sugars inherent in whole fruits and dairy. Because those foods are naturally “packaged” with water, fiber and other nutrients, they do not have the same negative effect on your health. In fact, most of us should be eating more of them.)”

Here are the 5 no-no’s for anyone concerned about their added sugar in-take (and that needs to be ALL of you)

  1. Soda – There’s absolutely nothing good coming from Soda, even the diet version. If you need the fizz, switch to seltzer and if you absolutely need something to cut the taste, add a very small amount of fruit juice.  This will make it taste more like soda with only a fraction of the sugar.
  2. Sugar Cereals – I know it’s a quick way to get your breakfast in the morning, and I salute the effort, but check your labels.  Even cereals you think are good for you are still loaded with sugar.  Find cereals made from only whole grains and ones that include that as the ONLY ingredient.  If not, skip it.  To sweeten the taste, add fruit.
  3. Candy – This should not be apart of your daily routine as an adult.  If you’re someone who thinks they need chocolate or the like to get through the day, recognize that you have unwittingly created a bad habit and it needs to be broken.  Remove it from your routine for 30 days and you’ll be shocked how you will no longer crave it.
  4. Sports drinks – Unless you’re a pro athlete please give me a break.  Stop this now.  You want energy? Grab a handful of almonds.
  5. Coffee – This is another habitual drink.  Remove it from your coffee for 30 days. I bet on day 31 you’d find your old coffee too sweet and undrinkable.  Do not drink sugar, it’s pointless.

Read Ellie Krieger’s full article here.

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Why Is There So Much Conflicting Diet Information?

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Ever notice how how you can read an article about weight-loss and dieting one day, and then read something completely contradictory the next?  Or, even worse, read articles about grueling workouts, super high protein intake, carb cycling, and HIIT training leaving you to believe your only hope is to quit your job and become a super athlete?

The source of this insanity is simply that each article has a unique audience that likely isn’t in the same mindset as you.  If you’re looking to lose a few pounds while still maintaining a full time job, a family, and your sanity, you’re not going to be willing to commit to something that either a Marathon Runner or a Fitness Competitor (two totally different programs) would do.   Now, obviously I’ve used extreme examples, but the idea holds true.  Each article is catering to a niche, and that niche may have different goals than you.  Understanding your own goals and needs is a great first start, then you need find the information uniquely for those goals.

This is precisely why using a weight-loss coach can give you a tremendous advantage.  A program will be tailored specifically to your needs and goals, removing a lot of the confusion as you both work toward your finish line.

Fitcoach99’s online weight-loss coaching can help guide you on your weight-loss journey.  Check out our program here

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5 Signs You Might Be Skinny Fat!

skinny fat

That is the title of an article I came across this morning (written by Amanda Macmillan, featured on Fox News’s website.  Full Article link below) , and I have to be honest that the title alone made me click through (and chuckle!).  Obviously, though, this is no laughing matter.

However, to keep it light for a minute, are you one of the unfortunate people who has a close friend or relative that can eat like a garbage pail and never gain an ounce?  Okay, they’re not going to win any fitness competitions, but they could plow through a supersized meal and dessert and still wear the same jeans from High School?  I have a friend who is best friends with one of these, while she herself is the kind that would gain a pound just looking at a milkshake.

Often, when she goes off on the unfairness of life and the cruelty of the darned gene pool, my ‘go to’ response is to remind her that’s she is actually better off.  Why? Well, just being thin isn’t a barometer for health.  While she can fit into the same clothes from a decade ago, her friend isnt’ getting the warning signs that her body is slowly growing unhealthy.  While her friend goes about eating fried Oreos and sipping cola’s, my friend has had to clamp down on her diet an increase exercise to help stave off unwanted pounds.  As much as I hate to admit it, and I’m sure you’ll silently protest it as well, vanity plays a big role.  Assume you could eat whatever you want and keep your 20-something year old body – would you bother eating clean and working out? Only a small percentage would answer ‘yes’ to that.

So, forget being bitter and ‘hating’ our genetically skinny brothers and sisters, and start feeling blessed that your body is sending you signals to tighten up your diet and move a heckuva lot more.  After all, while it’s wonderful to look good, living a more healthful life pays so many more dividends.

Here are the 5 signs bulleted. To see the full article visit: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2016/01/28/5-signs-might-be-skinny-fat.html

  • You have a muffin top
  • You can’t do a pushup
  • You have a family history (diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure)
  • You don’t eat healthy diet
  • You’re in an at-rick population (e.g. ethnic group)

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Tabata Workouts: 4 minutes, 20 seconds Trumps An Hour On The Treadmill?

tabata
Let’s enjoy an exception to the usual disappointment of things being too good to be true.  If this is the first time you’re hearing of Tabata workouts, listen up!

Let’s answer the easy question first: What is a tabata workout?

From Active.com’s Fara Rosenzweig “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 team conducted research on two groups of athletes. The first group trained at a moderate intensity level while the second group trained at a high-intensity level. The moderate intensity group worked out five days a week for a total of six weeks; each workout lasted one hour. The high-intensity group worked out four days a week for six weeks; each workout lasted four minutes and 20 seconds (with 10 seconds of rest in between each set).

The results; Group 1 had increased their aerobic system (cardiovascular), but showed little or no results for their anaerobic system (muscle). Group 2 showed much more increase in their aerobic system than Group 1, and increased their anaerobic system by 28 percent.

In conclusion, high-intensity interval training has more impact on both the aerobic and anaerobic systems.”

In case you were distracted reading that, let me reiterate those results. Group 2, the high intensity group following the Tabata workout, worked out ONLY 4 days per week, each workout lasting ONLY 4 minutes and 20 seconds. That’s incredible! And, group 2 show dramatically higher gains for both their aerobic and anaerobic system.
If you think time is the biggest reason you don’t exercise, you literally have no excuse not to try this. The mere idea of getting more out of 4 minutes and 20 seconds than what you got out of an hour in the past has to be the most exciting fitness news since Richard Simmons had us sweating to the oldies!

For examples of Tabata workouts (we put a few movements together for a workouts that 24 minutes or less), check our WOD’s (you can sort by that category from the mainpage).

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To read the full article, visit http://www.active.com/fitness/articles/what-is-tabata-training

For more on Tabata workouts, visit http://breakingmuscle.com/strength-conditioning/the-tabata-revolution-explained-what-why-and-how-to-tabata

For other ideas on Tabata workouts, visit: http://www.popsugar.com/fitness/Printable-Tabata-Workout-23498981