What is Tabata training?



Hi, My name is Fahad Maniar and I'm addicted to Tabata Training. But, what is Tabata Training? 
Tabata Training is something I stumbled upon over a year ago when I had injured my Iliotibial Band and couldn't go running to get fit for an upcoming fight so I did some research and found out about Tabata Training and the benefits for fitness and started doing Tabata training on a stationary bike for an upcoming fight. The reason I had become addicted is the short Tabata workout had me fitter for my fight than hours and miles of road running ever did!

What is Tabata Training?

Named after its founder, Professor Izumi Tabata of Ritsumeikan University Japan who came up with the protocol whilst researching training methods of the Japanese Speed Skating team. The protocol sees a person perform interval training of 20 seconds high intensity training (close to 100% target heart rate or 170% VO2Max) with a 10 second recovery period to be done over 4 minutes (in other words, 8 repetitions of high intensity work.

The theory is that it increases anaerobic capacity as well as reducing recovery times. It has gained huge popularity throughout the world due to the fact that in only 4 minutes, you can have a very effective workout that will increase your fitness levels. In fact, research showed that just 4 minutes of Tabata training burned the same amount of calories as a 60 minute jog did.

Does Tabata  training help you burn fat?

Tabata training is a High Intensity interval training protocol which sees you train in your anaerobic zone. Anaerobic training leaves anaerobic waste in your blood stream (you know when you feel the burn in your muscles when you train really hard? that's the acid levels raising in your blood from the lactate build up in your muscles and your body needs to get rid of this) which needs to be dealt with through oxidization (using oxygen) which leads to something called EPOC (Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption) in other words, after you exercise, your body requires extra oxygen to deal with the "anaerobic waste" which means your metabolism and fat burning potential is raised for as long as 24 hours after a workout!

From an anecdotal point of view, I can vouch for the fat burning prowess of Tabata training as since doing it, I've been able to keep more lean muscle whilst keeping my bodyfat at around 8%

What other benefits does Tabata training give you?

As well as increasing VO2Max and Anaerobic Capacity (Anaerobic threshold), Tabata training has been shown to:

– Increase Insulin Sensitivity
– Improve Athletic Performance
– Improve resting metabolic rate (thus aiding in fat burning)
– Improved recovery rates 

So, Just how do you do a Tabata workout?

A Tabata workout can be performed using any exercise really including resistant exercise. For example, you could do timed sprints on a track of 20 second, maximum intensity sprints followed by a 10 second cool down period, repeated 8 times. 
it could be on a stationary bike or elliptical machine too, in fact, any cardio machine would work providing you can get up to your maximum effort level for 20 seconds using it.

Make sure you perform at least a 10 minute warm up prior to starting your Tabata circuit to avoid injury or muscle pulls, strains or tears too.

Here's a sample Tabata workout you can do anywhere in the world right now :) make sure you warm up and perform each of the exercises for 20 seconds at maximum intensity.

1. Tuck Jumps for 20 seconds (A tuck jump is when you jump as high as you can in the air and tuck your knees into your chest) 20 seconds
Rest – 10 seconds of shadow boxing
2. Squat Thrust for 20 seconds (In press up position you bend your knees between your arms and tuck into your chest then straighten them out again)
3. Burpees for 20 seconds (There are many variations of Burpees, my favourite is a pressup immediately followed by a squat thrust followed by  a star jump!)
4. Press Ups for 20 seconds (Remember, you're going for max intensity, if normal pressups are easy for you and 20 seconds of pressups doesn't leave you gasping for air by the end, make them harder, do clapping pressups or double clap pressups etc)
Repeat steps 1 to 4 one more time!!!!

Yup, it's that simple (well, it's actually bloody hard work! once again, remember you are going for maximum effort in the 20 seconds and you should feel like dying half way through each Repetition. If you aren't you're not doing it right!

So, All I need to do is workout for 4 minutes?

Well, the theory goes that the 4 minute workout is enough to increase fitness as was shown when Dr Tabata tested it against a control group that performed steady cardio for 60 minutes. When performed four times per week for six weeks, the participants who were using the Tabata protocol increased their anaerobic capacity by 28 percent, and their VO2 max (an indicator of cardiovascular health) and maximal aerobic power by 15 percent. This is in contrast to the control group, who performed an hour of steady cardiovascular exercise on a stationary bike five times a week and only improved their VO2 max by just 10 percent, and their regimen had no effect on their anaerobic capacity.

Doing Tabata training a 2-4 times a week interspersed with other forms of training including resistance training would be the most advisable route and don't forget, whilst the actual tabata program lasts 4 minutes, you're going to need to spend 10 mins warming up and cooling down either way.

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About the Author Fahad

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