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Workout Wednesday: An Explanation of Tabata


Tabata workouts were all the rage last year, and it looks like they’ll be pretty high up on the popularity list this year, too. For some, right now the biggest question is this: Just what is Tabata? Because of its popularity, most people already know, and that’s great.

However, if you don’t quite understand the concept of Tabata training and have no idea how it can beneficial to your health, there’s no need to worry. We’ve got you covered with this week’s post!

What is Tabata?

Tabata is a specific method of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) that was “founded” by Dr. Izumi Tabata within a 1996 fitness study involving Olympic speedskaters. In this study, these athletes underwent 20 seconds of ultra-intense exercise on a stationary bike, followed by 10 seconds of rest time. This was repeated until eight cycles were completed.

The program/study lasted for six weeks and produced a total of 120 minutes of training for each athlete. According to BreakingMuscle.com, “the Tabata group improved both its aerobic and anaerobic fitness levels; the anaerobic fitness levels increased 28%.”

So, to be brief, Tabata is a highly intense workout that takes a total of four minutes. Four minutes. 

Why Should I Try Tabata?

Maybe you don’t think a four-minute workout can do much for your body, and if you think that way, you’re wrong. Dr. Tabata’s study results speak for themselves, don’t you think?

Tabata training, regardless of the exercises you choose, do improve your overall health. As always, remember to talk with your healthcare provider before undertaking any type of high-intensity exercise. 

Tabata training will raise your heart rate and your metabolism almost immediately. Because of the heightened intensity, your body works much harder at trying to keep up. Your heart pumps blood faster and your metabolism jumps, which is a wonderful thing if you’re looking to shed some weight.

The best part? Your metabolism stays at that elevated level, even after you’re finished working out. What does that mean for you? Simple. Your body will still be burning fat hours later, and who wouldn’t want that?

The “why” of Tabata has an easy answer. You should give it a try because it’s a great health boost. It could even help improve athletic performance.

How Can I Make Tabata Work for Me?

More good news! There’s really no right or wrong way to create a Tabata training session. You can implement a wide variety of exercises and types of equipment. Weights, running, planks, site-ups, squats, and resistance bands are just a few options you can choose from. There have even been Tabata sessions that included nothing but running. The choice is up to you.

There’s one thing to always keep in mind, though. The idea behind Tabata training is the principal of high intensity interval training (HIIT). Remember to follow the 20/10 rule—20 seconds of intense exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest—and repeat.

Not sure where to begin on creating a session? No problem! We’ve covered a few in the past, such as the general Tabata Protocol, as well as the Tabata Calorie Burn. Below is a short list of exercises you could possible choose from:

  • Sprints
  • Pull-ups
  • Leg raises
  • Medicine ball slams
  • Crunches
  • Bicep curls

Remember that Tabata training is a HIIT workout. Naturally, there could be a greater risk of injury because of faster muscle fatigue. Always consult your healthcare provider to see if Tabata training is a good choice for you. 

Cool-Down & Recovery

For a cool-down this week, we’re going to do something a little different—exercise mimicry. It’s simple and only takes a few minutes. Simple repeat one or two of the exercises you just completed in your Tabata session, but do so with much less intensity. Just use enough energy to get your blood moving and help your heart rate return to normal. Five or ten minutes is perfect.

The recovery you undertake after a workout—especially a HIIT routine—is always important. When it comes to healthy recovery, water and protein are two of the most important things you can give your body, aside from rest.

Here are some of my favorite supplements for a healthy recovery:

Have you given in to the Tabata craze? How has it helped you stay health and in shape? Share your stories with us in the comments section below!

Featured Image Credit: Cikipedia via Flickr.com.