Hands ups if you have never heard of Tabata?
If you haven’t, this could be the most important fitness discovery you make this year!
It’s not really new, but it has become increasingly popular in fitness circles over the last year or so.
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What is Tabata?
Tabata is essentially a type of high-intensity interval training where you focus on a different exercise for four minutes at a time. Back in the day, I’m pretty sure we used to call it circuit training and I know the military have been using this kind of training since forever.
What makes it slightly different is the particular protocol used, which refers to the name of a Japanese physician called Dr Izumi Tabata, who was hired to test the efficacy of the interval training protocol used by the Japanese speed skating team in the 1990’s.
His study compared high-intensity interval training against moderate intensity training and the results identified the aerobic and anaerobic benefits of using intermittent workouts of 20 seconds with 10 seconds recovery.
Among all the fitness trends and fads out there, the great thing about Tabata is that the protocol used is actually backed by rigorous scientific research.
I don’t know about you, but if I am going to use my precious time to get in shape, I want to be doing something that actually works.
And Tabata is a great workout if you are short on time or you are looking at ways of cross-training.
It’s perfect for group training as everyone can train at their own intensity level.
You’ll see results fast!
How Is Tabata Done?
With Tabata, you can basically use any exercise you like.
Squat jumps, squat thrusts, burpees – pretty much any exercise that works the major muscle groups.
Tabata does not have to always use high impact exercises though to get results. In fact, the original Tabata Protocol was done on a static bike. You can also incorporate weights, kettlebells, chin/pull ups or rope jumping.
Pretty much anything where you can quickly reach a high intensity. For that reason, running on a treadmill doesn’t usually work as it takes too long for the machine to reach a high speed.
The format is super simple. Here is an example using press ups only as an exercise:
- Press ups – 20 seconds at high intensity
- 10 seconds rest
- Repeat 8 times for a total duration of 4 minutes
At this point, you can either finish to workout here or rest and repeat. The Tabata protocol used a one minute rest between sets, but you can adjust the rest period according to your fitness level.
The key to success with this training is to make sure you are doing back-to-back high intensity efforts, rather than pacing yourself to complete the task.
Each effort requires MAXIMUM EFFORT – plus an extra 10%, if you have it in the tank. As mentioned above, your body needs to be conditioned enough to handle this kind of workout, because you’re going to be close to maxing out on your heart rate.
Tabata training is designed for experienced exercisers who are already operating at a high level of fitness. If you are a beginner, it’s best to start with higher interval training or circuit training and build up to the more advanced Tabata level. You can also change exercise after each recovery to make it more like a traditional circuit session.
Another option is to start with increased recoveries of 30 secs and reduce the recovery time as you get fitter and stronger.
Be sure to listen to your body and if you are getting too exhausted, increase the recovery times or take an extra break.
Don’t attempt this type of training more than 1-2 times per week and if you are unsure, check with your physician before doing this kind of workout.
If you like to have the latest gadgets and apps, check out the Tabata timer apps here. They are basically just customized interval timers, but they can make the whole process a lot easier, if you don’t have a coach to tell you when to start and stop.
Finally, watch this 30-minute Tabata workout on the POPSUGAR Fitness Channel to give you and idea of what to do. Cheesy grins are by no means mandatory, but they might help cover up the fact you are in bits after the third set of reps. 😀