May 18, 2019 at 08:00AM by CWC
Sure, I love to work out (except for the cases in which I decide to sleep through my alarm instead of going to a morning class…which happened today), but I’m also all for workouts that require less movement than, say, a 5K or moving from the floor to standing and back (looking at you, burpees). So you can also find me doing stretches in bed and plenty of isometric exercises, alongside the days where I’m dying in SLT or going for a long run.
Then I found out about sitting Tabata… which is essentially the HIIT workout of my wildest fantasies. According to Corey Phelps, a DC-based trainer, you can do a Tabata-style workout while literally sitting down. Speak to me. “It won’t be as flashy as burpees, but a few key isometric exercises will provide an exceptional burn, incognito style,” she tells me. All you need is a chair and a timer.
Maybe you’re raising an eyebrow. I feel you—but hear Phelps out: “When you think of Tabata, high intensity comes to mind, and that is correct,” she says. “Tabata in the purest form is a high-intensity style of training. While isometric holds aren’t typically a star in high-intensity workouts, you’ll soon find out that the burn is real when you run through a round of max effort flexing for eight rounds.”
It’s very true—I tried these moves for myself, and they mean business. There’s true power in isometric exercises. “Performing these isometric movements in a Tabata style helps yield maximum burn,” she says. “Focusing on one muscle group or movement, as Mr. Izumi Tabata intended, and squeezing all out for 20 seconds followed by resting for 10 seconds provides a method of isolating and activating the muscle intensely.”
On top of that, you’re working your mind-body connection, too. “Performing isometric exercises work to enhance the mind-muscle connection—a major perk that’ll benefit future workouts,” says Phelps. “By stimulating this mind-muscle connection, you prep your muscles and nervous system for traditional exercises, whether in a workout or through regular daily activities.” So try it for yourself.
Keep scrolling for the sitting Tabata workout you can do literally anywhere where your bum is on a seat, courtesy of Phelps.
“Use a timer on your phone to keep you accountable or download a Tabata timer,” recommends Phelps. “Then, perform each movement Tabata style, 20 seconds on, 10 seconds of rest, for eight rounds.”
1. Prayer squeeze: Place your palms together with your elbows flaring out, and press your hands together. “The tighter you press, the more challenging it will be,” says Phelps. “Be sure to keep your shoulders from hiking up toward the ears.”
2. Bicep burn: “Bend your right arm to a 90-degree angle, and grab your right hand with your left hand,” says Phelps. “Push them together as hard as you can. While your right bicep is preventing your arm from dropping, your left tricep is trying to push your right arm down. Then repeat on the other side.”
3. Ab vacuum: Start this one by sitting upright. “Place your hands on your hips, and exhale all the air out of your lungs,” says Phelps. “Expand your chest and bring your stomach in as much as possible, and hold. Visualize trying to touch your navel to your backbone, and squeeze and hold.”
4. Inner thigh squeeze: This one involves lots of squeezing. “Sit on a chair and make a fist, placing it between your knees,” says Phelps. “Squeeze your knees tightly together and hold.”
5. Isometric leg sculpt: “Sitting on the chair, extend your legs out and place both feet in front of your knees,” says Phelps. “Dig your heels into the floor. Without moving your feet, pull your feet in the direction of the chair, contract your hamstrings, quads, glutes and hold.” Now wipe that sweat.
This is what fitness trainers say about doing cardio vs. strength training first in a workout, BTW. And this is what you need to know about power in fitness, which is just as key as cardio and strength.