A Tabata is a high-intensity workout protocol that has fitness and weight-loss benefits. It is also a very short workout
The name Tabata comes from the man who invented it - Dr. Izumi Tabata, a Japanese physician and researcher. He conducted a study using an interval-based training model. His objective was to see if athletes would benefit from a 20/10 session repeated eight times. 20/10 means 20 seconds of all-out exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest. This adds up to four minutes total.
Dr. Tabata took two groups and put them on an exercise program for six weeks. The control group did one hour of moderate-intensity exercise five times a week. The other group did the high-intensity Tabata-style training. That adds up to 1,800 minutes of training for the control group versus 120 minutes of training for the Tabata group over the six-week period. The results speak for themselves. The Tabata group improved both its aerobic and anaerobic fitness levels. The anaerobic fitness level increased 28%.
Interval training is surely not new, but it has gained popularity in recent years. Intervals were originally designed for running. An example of Tabata training for runners is 20-second sprints and 10 seconds of rest. This will improve cardiovascular fitness. The Tabata protocol can be used for core strength as well as weight training.
Whatever exercise you use, Tabata training will raise your metabolism and heart rate immediately. Since you are performing these exercises at a very high intensity, your body will have to work much harder to keep it up. This will cause your heart to pump fast and your metabolism to jump, which you want if you are planning on losing fat. Your metabolism will stay at that high not only during the workout, but after the workout as well. This means that your body will be burning fat for hours after.
How to Train TABATA Style
When you first try TABATA, like everything new, it is always best to pace yourself. TABATA is all about training at a high intensity for a short period of time, with small recoveries, so you want to find a challenging but healthy work to recovery ratio.
For example, for your first TABATA session, your ratio may include 10 seconds of exercise followed by 20 seconds of rest, times 8 rounds. Ten seconds of exercise may not sound like a lot, but remember the goal is to work at a HIGH intensity.
As your fitness progresses, you can start to vary the working rations from 15 seconds of work, followed by 15 seconds recovery, times 8 rounds, and when you are feeling really game, try 20 seconds of work, 10 seconds of recovery. This will be sure to spike your heart rate, increase your fitness, and burn a bunch of calories. The aim of each round is to increase the number of reps of each exercise, in every round.
Check out this four minute session you could try for a few rounds, all you need is a stopwatch!
- ROUND ONE: 20 seconds of SQUAT JUMPS, followed by 10 seconds of rest
- ROUND TWO: 20 seconds of PUSH UPS, followed by 10 seconds of rest
- ROUND THREE: 20 seconds of BURPEES (YES, burpees), followed by 10 seconds of rest
- ROUND FOUR: 20 seconds of JUMPING JACKS, followed by 10 seconds of rest
- ROUND FIVE: 20 seconds of HIGH KNEES, followed by 10 seconds of rest
- ROUND SIX: 20 seconds of MOUNTAIN CLIMBERS, followed by 10 seconds of rest
- ROUND SEVEN: 20 seconds of CRUNCHES, followed by 10 seconds of rest
- ROUND EIGHT: A 20 second PLANK - DONE!
Whichever exercise you choose, your choices should use a large number of muscles to get maximum benefit. It is normal to feel some soreness during the first week of Tabata training. However, your body will adjust and you will only feel slight to moderate soreness after the beginning.
Be Prepared to Sweat!
It’s effective, as Dr. Tabata’s study showed, and ultimately improves endurance. It teaches your body to tolerate lactic acid. When you train in a high-intensity zone, your threshold becomes higher. It also keeps your metabolism running on high gear. One of the greatest benefits of anaerobic training is that your body keeps burning fat for 24 hours after your workout. So the amount of fat that can be burned using Tabata training is what draws many people to using it. As a weight loss tactic, Tabata is a great tool.
TABATA Tips and Tricks
- Aim for exercises that use minimal equipment (consider resistance bands or medicine balls) so that you can transition across exercises quickly.
- Try some explosive power movements such as plyometric exercises (eg. Squat Jumps, Box Jumps or clap push ups) to increase the muscle recruitment and up the intensity of the session.
- If you forget your stopwatch or timing device, there are some great TABATA apps for both iPhone and android devices. They’ll give you a countdown to each exercise and help you record all of the workouts you’ve done!
- You should still include a warm up of at least 5 minutes prior to your first round of TABATA and a cool down after you’ve finished your last round. Warm up properly with dynamic exercises as opposed to static stretches
- Make sure to add a sound nutritional program into your Tabata routine for the best and fastest results possible if losing weight is your goal. Nutrition is an important component of stay fit and being active. If you have poor nutrition, then your fitness goals will not be achieved. You will also not have the energy needed to workout at this level and intensity.
- Don’t forget about technique! When you’re fatigued and trying to improve reps, always ensure that your form is paramount, reps are the goal, BUT technique should always come first.
TABATA is a great way to workout, whether you are time poor, looking for an effective and challenging way to increase your fitness, or looking to mix up your training. You can create your own sessions, or even attend TABATA style classes at your local gym.
Please consult your doctor or pesonal trainer in case you suffer from high blood pressure. Physical activity is crucial to managing high blood pressure, but it must be done wisely.