Exercise for writers

If you were to ask me to come up with a list of things I absolutely must have in order to write, number one on that list would be exercise, which I know isn’t a tangible thing per se, but it’s the truth! Yes, coffee and index cards and pens are great, but really, I need a physical release. Sitting for too long is bad for you, plus I get antsy. There’s always the tried and true walk around the block, but I’ve found that the best way to get the creative juices flowing is to get the blood really pumping with quick, intense exercise.

And that’s why the Tabata is the writer’s best friend. Quick? Check. It can be super quick. Intense? HELLA check.

On your feet, soldier!

In Tabata training, you basically take one exercise, perform it for 20 seconds, take a 10 second rest, then repeat it continuously for eight cycles (four minutes total). So it’s basically four minutes of: on for 20 seconds, off for 10, on for 20, off for 10, and so on. Rest one minute, then pick another exercise and jump right back in!

The brilliant part about Tabata is that you can design it to fit into your schedule. I mean, each exercise is only four minutes long (or really, five, when you count the one-minute rest). Only have 20 minutes to spare? Pick four exercises. Half an hour? Pick six. Feeling particularly hardcore today? Go for eight. And you don’t need any fancy equipment. If you have weights or a medicine ball or even some bands, that’s great, but you can do a lot with just your body weight. Doing a good, old-fashioned push up is better than doing chest presses with weights if you ask me. And Tabata is flexible. You design it to fit your needs!

The key to designing a good Tabata is to incorporate a lot of compound exercises (meaning you do two things at once, like a backward lunge with a bicep curl) as well as a lot of plyometrics (which is really just a fancy word for jumping—jump squats, jump lunges, that sort of thing)* and a cardio/strength combo (like mountain climbers). Pick exercises that will give you a total body workout, everything from your shoulders down to your calves. And in as little as twenty minutes, you’re done!

Tip: During some down time, find some index cards and design a bunch of different Tabata schedules ahead of time. Then you can just grab one and go. No planning necessary!

What about you? Ever tried Tabata? What are some of your favorite ways to work out?

*Ok, technically, plyometrics isn’t just a fancy word for jumping. But close enough.

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5 Responses

  1. Karen Strong says:

    This sounds interesting…I’m a plyometrics fan, but this may be something to try to switch things up.

  2. I’m going to have to look into this now. Thanks, Meredith!

  3. I need to try this, Meredith. All this writing is having a negative effect on my bottom line, if you know what I mean! But I hate taking time to go to the gym when I could be writing. Now I know why you’re in such great shape, Wonder Woman, and still get so much writing done! : )

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