A Tabata workout is a set of eight high intensity intervals performed for a total of four minutes. The intervals consist of 20 seconds of high intensity exercise, followed by 10 seconds of recovery. Sounds easy enough, right? Well, they're not. The optimum words are is high intensity. I'll give an example of a Tabata below, but here is a little background on this killer workout's origin.
In the mid-90s, a team of Japanese researchers, lead by Izumi Tabata, discovered that athletes could achieve a significant improvement in their aerobic capacity and VO2 (or the amount of oxygen your lungs can hold). The study was done at the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo and required the athletes to maintain this workout regime five days a week for six weeks. The results were phenomenal and quickly embraced by the fitness community
Today, Tabata sets are a regular part of the Crossfit world, as well many other forms of fitness - both strength and endurance - that focus on interval training. Along with improved aerobic and lung capacity, one of the greatest lures of a Tabata set is fat loss. Tabatas can be applied to just about any exercise, provided you have the ability to get moving quickly. From squats to shoulder presses, crunches to leg lifts and cycling to track workouts, Tabatas are easily integrated into many workouts.
When Tabata did his original study, athletes completed their work on a mechanically braked cycle ergometer. They pushed themselves to the point of exhaustion (nothing left in the tank) during their work intervals, and kept moving during the short rest intervals (they didn't just stop and stand there).
If you're brand new to working out, you may want to build up some sort of fitness base before trying one of the explosive exercises. If you've been working out for a while and want to challenge yourself, build one of these sets into your regime.
"Endurance" Tabata Intervals
Platform: Incorporate into a cycling, spinning, running or even the elliptical workout...or anything that can keep you moving or get you going quickly.
Objective: Distance - go as far as possible during the work interval.
"Strength" Tabata Intervals
Platform: Incorporate into any strength exercise, such as shoulder presses, body weight squats, deadlifts, sit ups, lunges, etc.
Objective: Perform as many repetitions in the 20-second work interval as possible.
Here is what you do:
8 - 15 minute warm up
20 seconds high intensity effort
10 seconds rest (but keep moving)
**Repeat a total of eight intervals continuously without stopping**
Cool down 10 minutes
Die-hard Tabata enthusiasts build several of these intervals into their workouts. See what you do with one set, and continue building them into your workout regularly throughout the week. Let me know how you do!
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