Fit in 4 Minutes

No equipment required

If you’re a beginner runner a gentle jog can feel really tough. Lucky then that Ben Stanton, from Fitness First Oxford Circus (who took us out on our run yesterday) says you can improve your running fast… in just 4 minutes.

Based on Tabata’s method of HIIT training, you do a challenging exercise repeatedly for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, you then repeat the 30 second set eight times with different exercises.

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Today, Ben had us doing (among other things) lunges, squats and burpees – all exercises you can do without any equipment. Lunges are great for runners as they exaggerate the natural running motion strengthening the muscles (glutes and hamstrings) you need for running. Beginner runners should aim to strengthen their glutes (bum muscles) and hamstrings (back of the thighs) as a priority to help run more efficiently and to avoid injury.

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We also did curtsy lunges (where the back leg crosses behind your front leg as if curtsying), this works your muscles on a different ‘plain of motion’ which activates different parts. Needless to say, we are aching in places we didn't know we could today.

The aim of Tabata is to work at a high intensity with a short rest period, done properly the 4 minutes are better for you than a 45 minute jog. Why? Well, strength exercises cause micro tears in the muscles and you burn calories post-workout repairing these fatigued muscles. It will also help improve your mobility, strength and stamina.

Aim to do a Tabata session three – four times per week.

Before you strike longer runs off your fitness agenda however, a run for 20-45 minutes can burn fat. You just need to make sure you’re running in your fat burning zone.

To find this out, first work out your heart rate with this simple equation: 220 – your age. This gives you your max heart rate in beats per minute (bpm), your fat burning zone is 65-70% of this number. You can buy heart rate monitors (Polar and Garmin are good brands) that will tell you your bpm as you run so you’ll know you’re in the right zone.

To learn more about Fitness First’s running programmes or to register for a run season with Fitness First Home Run click here...

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