If you are a fitness nerd who likes to read about all the new trends and then thinks it's entertaining to actually try them, then you have heard all the buzz about Tabata training. If you are saying, "Huh?" then I've got a short little workout you can do in just 4 minutes . . . yes, that's right. Only 4 minutes of pure fun. I warn you, though, this is not a workout for the feint of heart - literally, like all fitness routines you want to make sure you get your doctor's okay, and especially with this one if you've been out of the gym for a while or have any other concerns.
Now, to the fun . . .
When crazy fitness people talk about “Tabata training” or the “Tabata Protocol”, they are referring to a type of high intensity interval training
. (HIIT). We are all familiar with interval training and its benefits. Tabata training this involves performing a particular exercise (or exercises) at high intensity for 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds of rest. This is repeated 8 times for a total training time of 4 minutes.
For example, this morning I got on the treadmill - yes, this very one. I started out doing a normal warm-up, then 2 mile run. For some crazy reason, I really wanted to go all out today. Maybe the time of year and all the (stresses)
fun that comes along with it had me a little wired, plus the "no workout" day I had yesterday and the total time crunch we are all feeling. So, I added in the dreaded Tabatas. I set the treadmill down to an incline of one (I normallly have it on three and go up and down from there) and upped the speed to a sprint. Then for 20 seconds I went "all out" getting my heart rate as high as I could and then took 10 seconds off (by hopping my feet on the outsides of the treadmill). As I continued to repeat this regimen, those 10 seconds seemed to get shorter and shorter. I think the woman on the treadmill beside me thought I was nuts. (As she walked reading her book).
The studies have shown that through the use of a VO2 measuring device, folks were able to test the effectiveness of 20 Second Fitness and found that our workouts can burn up to 12 times the calories as traditional exercise
. Meaning, 4 minutes of 20 Second Fitness can burn up to the same amount of calories as 48 minutes of typical, moderate exercise.
Hmmmm, what's not to like about that? (After you get over the leg shaking, feel like you wanna puke stage.)
If you don't have a treadmill handy, no problem. You can "pick your poison" with this. Any form of exercise can be turned into Tabatas. Jump rope, jumping jacks, jump squats, even push-ups and ab exercises. The key is to go as hard as you can for 20 seconds and have 10 seconds of recovery and repeat for 4 minutes. Some folks will continue with their Tabata routines to get a total 20 minute workout. That's great if you can do it or can build up to that. You always want to challenge yourself, but also listen to your body and know what's good for you and your fitness goals.
Another thing you can do is to perform a circuit of multiple exercises to create a 4-minute workout. Typically, 4 sets of tabatas is recommended with 1 mintute rest time between each set for a total of a 20-minute workout. You can also apply the Tabata training protocol to a combination of exercises (with or without weights) within each set . For example, a Tabata set that combines pushups, chin ups and mountain climbers.
The Tabata training method and its many variations are “unofficial” adaptations of the training protocol used by Dr Izumi Tabata in a research study published in 1996
. In this study, Dr Tabata showed that short bursts of high intensity training had superior aerobic and anaerobic training effects compared to longer moderate intensity training. Since this study was published, many athletes and trainers have adapted the training protocol used in this study as the basis of formulating their training programs. This is what is now known as “Tabata Training”. So, if you weren't familiar with the term, now you know what all the buzz is about.ARE YOU UP FOR TABATA TRAINING - WHO SHOULD DO TABATA TRAINING?
While it is no surprise why Tabata training is becoming increasingly popular. The training method is supported by scientific evidence to show that it is a superior training method compared to traditional cardiovascular training. Secondly, who wouldn’t prefer better results in just 4 minutes compared to 60 minutes of traditional cardio exercises?However, the high-intensity nature of the training will make this training “feel” a lot harder than traditional cardio exercises. Especially for individuals who are not already physically conditioned. People who are not used to training at such high intensity should start of slowly and with supervision from a fitness professional to avoid the the risk of injury.
The benefits of Tabata training would appeal to the following groups of people:
- People who want to increase their athletic capacity. As Dr Tabata demonstrated in his study, the Tabata training protocol improves both aerobic and anaerobic capacity in already fit individuals.
- Individuals who want to lose weight or reduce fat. Studies have shown that high-intensity training result in Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption or “EPOC” for short. In layman terms, research shows that the metabolic effect of exercising at high-intensity can continue long after training resulting in more calories being burnt!
- Individuals who do not have a lot of time for fitness training. Finally, busy professionals or individuals who do not have a lot of time for exercising could adopt the Tabata training protocol to ensure that they maximize the efficiency of their workouts. i.e. crazy Moms who are running around trying to keep their sanity during the Holidays and still get a workout in!
That's it - my workout of choice for the weeks when you can't do a normal workout routine. Throw some Tabata training in a couple of times a week and then just relax. It's well worth the short but terribly challenging effort!
(For more information and samvideocredits: e
So, what do you do when you are short on time, but want to go "all out"?