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Is Tabata Training Effective?

The Tabata Method

What it is, how it works, why to do it...

The Tabata Method of training began taking form in the early 1990s, when Dr. Izumi Tabata conducted study on exercise intensity with the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo. Prior to this breakthrough, Dr. Tabata had tried numerous sprinting-type protocols to determine which training program would optimize the ATP synthesis; i.e. the key molecule for energy production.

The new study compared two groups of speed-skate athletes, by following their physical response to different training regimens based on opposing theories.

 

For 6 weeks, the first group consistently trained at a moderate intensity level for 1 hour a day, 5 days a week; while the second group engaged in only 4 weekly high-intensity sessions that lasted no more than 4 minutes and 20 seconds (including 10 second rest periods between sets).

 

Results were astonishing: the moderate-intensity athletes had indeed increased their cardiovascular endurance but displayed no improvement in their muscular system, whereas the high-intensity trainees not only increased their cardio capacity – they also showed a 28% improvement in their their muscular development. Needless to say, this groundbreaking find led Dr. Tabata and his team to the conclusion that short high-intensity interval training has a greater impact on overall athletic levels than longer workouts of medium intensity. 

 

Basically, the Tabata Method involves 20 seconds of all-out training followed by 10 seconds of rest; a cycle which is repeated 8 times. This amounts to a total of 4 minutes. 

 

You can easily implement Tabata in your regular gym routine by using one of the many available Tabata timer apps, which will keep you on track with the correct intervals. Now, a 4-minute workout may seem like a piece of cake, but the key is to go so far out intensity wise that you are left completely exhausted at the end. Think of it like lifting your absolute max load for 1-3 reps versus lifting a light weight for 20 repetitions – if you put in enough effort, your body can get depleted of its energy storages very quickly. Unless you feel totally drained afterward, you simply haven’t gone hard enough. Hence, it’s best to do Tabata as a separate workout (for instance when you’re short on time) OR at the very end of your original workout.  

 

The original Tabata protocol involved only bodyweight, hence this sample circuit is based on the same. Remember to go ALL OUT for during the 20-second intervals!

 

 

  • Burpees

1 set x to failure for 20 seconds + 10 seconds rest

 

  • Frog Jumps

1 set x to failure for 20 seconds + 10 seconds rest

 

  • Mountain Climbers

1 set x to failure for 20 seconds + 10 seconds rest

 

  • Burpees

1 set x to failure for 20 seconds + 10 seconds rest

 

  • Jumping Lunges

1 set x to failure for 20 seconds + 10 seconds rest

 

  • Pushups

1 set x to failure for 20 seconds + 10 seconds rest

 

  • Jumping Squats

1 set x to failure for 20 seconds + 10 seconds rest

 

  • Burpees

1 set x to failure for 20 seconds + 10 seconds rest

 Let's do this!