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Tabata Training: Quick Workouts for Amazing Results

May 19, 2011

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In a previous post, we described the basics of Tabata Training. Here STACK offers ways for you to implement this training protocol in your own workouts.

With only 11 minutes of work every three days, you can turn your body into a fat-burning super engine. The key is Tabata Training. Developed by Izumi Tabata and his colleagues at Japan's National Institute of Fitness and Sports, the Tabata Protocol is widely praised as one of the best cardio workouts ever developed.

Tabata Training is high intensity interval training. Most athletes use a stationary bike, stair climber, elliptical or other machine that engages large muscle groups and permits increasing resistance and/or speed. A treadmill can be used, but you have to step on the side runners to rest between sets, because most machines take too long to stop and then start back up again.

The original Tabata Protocol required:

  • Five minutes of warm-up
  • Eight 20-second intervals of all-out intensity, interspersed with 10 seconds of rest
  • Two minutes of cool down

Here is a sample bike program:

  1. Warm up on the bike for 5 minutes
  2. Set the bike's tension at your max and pedal as hard and fast as possible [over 100 rpm] for 20 seconds
  3. Slow pedal speed to below 60 rpm and remove tension for 10 seconds
  4. Repeat seven more times for a total of eight sets and four minutes of workout time
  5. Cool down for two minutes with slow pedaling and reduced tension

Research has shown that this type of high intensity training improves VO2 max (i.e., maximum oxygen consumption, a measure of aerobic capacity) by approximately 14 percent. Even more amazingly, it boosts anaerobic capacity by 28 percent. Individuals who participated in the study trained five days a week for six weeks.

Tabata Training can be done with other forms of exercise besides cardio. The goal is to involve the whole body, or at least the major muscle groups. Advanced Tabata Training can be done with traditional weights, dumbbells, kettlebells or even simple bodyweight movements.

Below are some guidelines if you want to start a Tabata Training program:

  1. If you are just beginning, or you have not been working out, start slowly and only use cardio equipment. Wait to implement weight training.
  2. As a beginner, cut back the volume of training. Use a shorter warm-up and perform only two or three intervals instead of eight.
  3. As you get in better shape and your recovery heart rate improves at the end of your workout (meaning your recovery takes less time), add another interval, bringing the total to three or four per workout.
  4. Once you can handle the full work load and volume, increase the tension on your equipment to make it more intense. Then add variety to your program by using barbells, kettlebells, medicine balls and other equipment to improve conditioning.

By implementing Tabata Training, you will burn unwanted fat and improve both your aerobic and anaerobic capacity—without spending hours in the gym.

Photo:  timeoutchicago.com

Topics: CARDIO
Mark Roozen
- Mark Roozen, M.Ed.,CSCS,*D, NSCA-CPT, FNSCA, is the Director of Performance at Day of Champions Sport Camps. He recently was a member of the Cleveland Browns...
Mark Roozen
- Mark Roozen, M.Ed.,CSCS,*D, NSCA-CPT, FNSCA, is the Director of Performance at Day of Champions Sport Camps. He recently was a member of the Cleveland Browns...
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