What Is Tabata?
What a weird word, right? Well, this training style is named after the person who created it. No big deal. The training style is touted for its exceptional fat loss and muscle gaining abilities...if performed correctly.
Here's a little history:
Japanese scientist Dr. Izumi Tabata conducted an experiment that examined two groups of athletes. Group one performed moderate-intensity exercise for 5 days per week for one hour each session. Group two performed high-intensity exercise 4 times per week for four minutes and twenty seconds.
Guess what happened?
Group 1 improved their aerobic system with little change to their anaerobic system.
Group 2 improved their aerobic system well over group 1. AND, they improved their anaerobic system by nearly 30%.
What does that mean? Not only did Group 2 vastly enhance their cardiovascular system, but they improved muscle mass. The study demonstrated that short, high-intensity workouts are more productive than steady state cardio. BOOM!
Why are we running or jogging or anything for hours at a time when we could be sprinting for four minutes and get better results? No idea, but maybe it's time to stop, yeah? Tabata training is difficult and that is why less people engage in tabata training. It tests your limits. It goes one step further than HIIT because it flips the rest-work times. In a tabata workout, you dedicate more time to the high intensity and less time to the recovery.
We should point out that Tabata's original study had the participants working at 170% of their VO2 Max, which for a "normal" athlete is damn near impossible. But that doesn't mean you can't get results from this protocol.
Here we are going to cover a few ways to incorporate tabata into your week, and maybe you will find yourself dropping the chronic cardio in favor of these short workouts. After all, who doesn't want more time to do other things?
Tabata Training Layout
Tabata can be tailored to strength training or cardio workouts. For strength training workouts, you can do 4 exercises for each tabata workout (meaning you do each exercise twice). On the other hand, you can perform sprints for the four minutes and be done. If you add in a few extra exercises, then you may end up working out for 4-16 minutes (OH MY GOD!). Here is the standard set up:
Total Body Tabata
Perform each exercise on after the other. Remember 20 seconds as hard as you can followed by 10 seconds of recovery time. Repeat four times.
Perform each exercise on after the other. Remember 20 seconds as hard as you can followed by 10 seconds of recovery time. Repeat eight times.
We always like to follow a heavy dose of sprints with a 3 mile recovery walk. It will keep your metabolism going, burn fat, and allow your body to register that it is no longer being chased by lions.
Oh-My-God Stairs Tabata
Perform each exercise on after the other. Remember 20 seconds as hard as you can followed by 10 seconds of recovery time. Repeat 4 times.