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Tabata Anything – Four Minutes of Pain to Gain
The Tabata Protocol is a high intensity training regimen that produces remarkable results. A Tabata workout (also called a Tabata sequence) is an interval training cycle of 20 seconds of maximum intensity exercise, followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated without a break 8 times for a total of four minutes. In a group setting, you can keep score by counting the number of lifts/jumps/everything you do in each of the second 20 rounds. The lap with the lowest number is your score.
Credit for this simple and powerful workout method goes to its namesake, Dr. Izumi Tabata and a team of researchers from the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo, Japan. Their groundbreaking 1996 study, published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports & Exercise, provided documented evidence regarding the dramatic physiological benefits of high-intensity intermittent training. After only 6 weeks of testing, Dr. Tabata noted a 28% increase in the anaerobic capacity of his subjects, as well as a 14% increase in their ability to consume oxygen (V02Max). These results were observed in athletes who were already in good physical shape. The conclusion was that just four minutes of Tabata interval training could do more to boost aerobic and anaerobic capacity than one hour of endurance exercise.
Although Dr. Tabata used a mechanically braked exercise bike, you can apply this protocol to almost any exercise. For example, a basic Tabata workout can be done with sit-ups. The more muscles you use, the better, so use full sit-ups with bent knees. Sit non-stop for 20 second intervals, followed by 10 seconds of rest. Repeat for a total of 8 cycles.
How effective is just 4 minutes of exercise? … Very. You’ll be amazed at how intense the four minutes of exercise will be. Intervals challenge both your aerobic and anaerobic energy systems. To be clear, this is not “eight sets of eight”, although the goal of doing eight reps in each of the 20-second groups is about right. Instead, it’s “as many reps as possible” for the twenty seconds, followed by ten seconds of rest.
It helps to be able to see a wall clock with a second hand during your four minutes of fun. Stop at twenty seconds, rest ten seconds and repeat. Looking at the clock helps to concentrate and also to count the eight cycles…
Here is an example of a longer Tabata workout. This workout consists of 4 separate Tabata intervals, each lasting 4 minutes. The total workout will last 16 minutes. Always start with a moderate warm-up and cool-down session. And if you’re not already in good shape, consult a doctor before trying.
* Jumping rope
* Chin-ups or pull-ups
Note that the 10 second rest periods in Tabata training are important, both physically and mentally. Not only do they provide partial recovery, but they also provide psychological relief. Going from work to rest speeds up training. Plus, it allows you to train at a higher intensity level, which is what intervals are.
Another good exercise for Tabatas is the “squat thruster”. The squat thruster is one of the great lifts made popular by organizations such as CrossFit. Take two dumbbells and hold them at shoulder height. Squat down, pushing your hindquarters back, keeping the dumbbells on your shoulders. When you stand up, press the bells into the lock position overhead. You can either press when you stand up or use momentum to help “kick” the bells above your head. Keep your weight in your heels and be light! A 25 pound dumbbell in each hand is a very tough thruster workout!
Virtually any form of cardiovascular exercise that uses a large number of muscles can be adapted to Tabata interval training, so feel free to get creative. In addition to the exercises mentioned above, use them with sprints, burpees, jump rope, heavy bag, treadmill or rowing machine. Reduce the risk of injury by choosing an intensity level that suits your level of conditioning – be careful. Incorporate variety into your Tabata workouts. A few sessions per week will provide a lot of intensity.
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