Interval training is a high intensity form of workouts that involves you working out in short bursts of effort, and is rapidly gaining popularity for its ability to blast fat and push you to your limits. Tabata is a kind of interval training, it will get you great results but it’s not for the faint hearted!
Created by Izumi Tabata and a team of researchers from the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo, the Tabata Protocol is simply the best supra-aerobic cardio workout ever discovered.
Dr. Tabata discovered that this kind of interval training produces much better results than aerobic training – including building as much muscular endurance as 45 minutes of normal cardio training.
You can apply this protocol to almost any exercise, but the more muscles used the better. Pretty much any exercise that uses a large number of muscles can be tailored to fit Tabata interval workouts, so you can be creative. To begin with, it’s a good idea to try starting with simple body weight exercises (e.g. Squats, lunges, push ups etc.).
Why do Tabata workouts?
The Tabata program is one of the best fat burning styles of workout around. Each exercise is only four minutes, but you will be more than likely be shaking and will keep sweating and breathing hard for a long time after you’re finished. Tabata training will teach you the mental focus needed to push past the pain which is the ticket to getting a step closer to your weight loss goals.
How to do Tabata workouts
- For 20 seconds, do as many reps as possible of your chosen exercise
- Rest for 10 seconds
- Repeat for a total of 8 cycles
So remember that one exercise will take you four minutes total. To monitor your progress, record the amount of reps you achieved in each set so you have something to compare against next time you do it. The traditional protocol is simply to record the lowest amount of reps achieved.
What you could also do, is add up the total repetitions for each exercise at the end so that there is an incentive to do as many as possible in each round. You could record both the total reps done and the exhaustion point (the number you reach when you can’t do any more), otherwise there could be some temptation to only get to your lowest number each time and ‘save’ yourself for the sets to come.
What Tabata feels like
You’ll be amazed at how intense the four minutes of exercise will feel – particularly if you stick very strictly to the work and rest times. You need to really go for it and get as many reps as you can during the 20 seconds.
It helps to have someone else timing you and recording your numbers if possible. Firstly because you will probably get so shaky it’ll be hard to write and secondly because you want to make the most of your rest period, breathe and enjoy every second – it goes fast. Plus it’s harder to cheat on the timing when someone else is doing it for you and ideally having someone barking at you a bit helps to get you through!
The 10 second rest periods in the Tabata workout are important, both physically and mentally. The time really flies in the rest periods but switching back and forth from work to rest makes the workout go quickly. If getting someone to time you is too difficult, you can get interval timers that you can set your work time, rest time and how many rounds there are in your workout. Gymboss (www.gymboss.com) makes a great one; if you’re lucky enough to have an iPhone, they have an app that you can download for free! You can even play your own music in the background 🙂
Some bodyweight exercises to try
To start with, try them with some of the following exercises:
- Press ups
- Sit ups
Always begin with a moderate warm-up and cool down session. And if you are not already fit, check with a doctor before trying.
How often should you do Tabata workouts?
Try to throw in a Tabata-style workout no more than once or twice a week; fortnightly is probably more realistic. It’s certainly not something you should do every day as it really overloads your body and you need to do something different the next few days and allow your body to recover.
There really are no limits to the creativity you can add to your reps, sets, and work vs. rest times. Let us know how it goes!
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