Burn 1000 calories in one workout? (article)

I love a good rant and I can always rely on Kate Vidulich to deliver a GREAT rant!  I was one of those guilty Bootcamp Instructors who called  my 20-10 intervals “tabatas”, but after reading a rant from Kate a few months ago, I quickly changed my tune (just in case she caught me – Kate being in New York and me teaching in Melbourne, it wasn’t likely, but still!).

20 seconds of work with 10 seconds of rest, repeated for 8 rounds, is a fabulous training protocol.  But it’s NOT a tabata! Her article below explains why.   Kate also has a great video workout – she’s chosen the “elite” level but you can try the following modifications and still get an awesome workout.

Repeat for 2 rounds (10 minutes total)

  • 4A) Walkout to Push Up
  • 4B) Ski Jumps
  • 4C) Prisoner Reverse Lunge (alternating)
  • 4D) Squat Thrusts
  • 4E) KB or DB Swings

This circuit is from 1,000 Calorie Accelerators System (Elite level) and designed for advanced folks only.  But don’t give up if you’re not at the elite level yet!  We have alternatives!  That’s what’s great about Kate’s program – she provides for beginners up to elite.

Watch the video and then try it with these modifications. If 45 seconds is too demanding, decrease your work time and increase your rest time – try 30 seconds work to 30 seconds rest.  Alternatives to the video are:

4A)  Walkout as far as you can and then drop to your knees for the pushup

4B)  No need for those impact moves if you have an injury or can’t jump for any reason – step through this exercise just as fast as you can to keep heart rate high.

4C)  Bring the arms down out of prisoner position if you need extra balance or find it hard to hold your arms above shoulder level.

4D)  Squat thrusts can still be done effectively as a stepping movement without the jumping.  If changes of level bother you – try doing this with your hands on a bench or chair and step your feet back rather than jumping.  Again, keep your pace fast!

4E) Swings are a brilliant exercise for lower back health when done properly.  Watch the video carefully for Kate’s good form.
Check out the video and then try a modified version as required.  You can swap out those high impact moves for easier “stepping” exercises – just like Kate does in her program where she offers 3 levels of workouts suitable for beginners through to advanced.

OK – let’s get Kate explaining why 20-10 intervals AREN’T the  same as tabatas…

5 Things to Know about 4 minute Intervals

1. It’s ULTRA Intense
In the study, the Tabata group did a 10-minute steady state warm up followed by 7-8 continuous cycles of 20 seconds at 170% VO2 max, then 10 seconds of rest on a braked cycle ergometer (it’s a fancy bike in the research lab).

It’s incredibly hard to sprint at 170% VO2 max – it hurts, it’s not attainable for the ordinary person and it’s NOT fun!

2. It’s Not Proven Effective for Fat Loss
Nowhere in the Tabata study did they mention anything about its effectiveness for fat loss. They didn’t even study it. This study was undertaken purely to improve athletic performance at the Olympics.  So sure, maybe it does work for accelerating fat loss. Or not. It’s unknown. I personally think Tabata would work for fat loss, (well it better, right?) but it’s never yet been actually tested for fat loss.

3. They did slow cardio too…
In the original study, the athletes trained 4 times per week using Tabata, PLUS another day of steady-state training at 70% VO2 max with the cardio group.

4. This protocol was tested on athletes, not humans
The subjects were Japanese Olympic athletes – to be exact. They were in peak physical condition and could safely push themselves to this insanely high intensity.

Which ultimately means that if you haven’t exercised in years, let alone done intense training, Tabata is not for you.

5. You burn approximately 15 calories/minute
A recent ACE study took the 20:10 “Tabata-style” protocol and tested it on real people. In a 20 minute “Tabata-style” workout, subjects burned between 240 and 360 calories, for an average of 15 calories per minute burned.

Unfortunately, time and time again, calorie calculators have proved inaccurate so don’t take that as any kind of gospel!


Four minutes to fitness?  Maybe!  It’s certainly better than nothing. But even with high intensities of training evoking an afterburn effect, it’s not enough to create the calorie deficit you need to get rapid fat loss results.

So what can you do?

Simple. Your workout needs to be longer. Like the portion of the workout at the top of the page…

Get 1,000 Calorie Accelerators here You’ll use the ‘tabata style’ protocol along with other proven methods to burn the calories you need for the accelerated fat loss results you’re after.