The Tabata workout, a form of High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), claims to improve overall fitness and endurance with sessions that last a mere four minutes.
Developed by Professor Izumi Tabata from his 1996 study involving the Japanese speed skaters Olympic team, the workout targets the aerobic and anaerobic systems at the same time. Tabata claimed that a brief, high-intensity workout not only gives the same results as long cardio training sessions, but also improves the muscular system agility.
The science behind this is simple. In a high-intensity training session, you quickly deplete your muscles’ glycogen stores, boost your adrenaline and lower your insulin levels. Basically, you become a fat-burning machine to provide enough energy and replenish your glycogen stores and in the process of micro muscle repair, you gain overall strength from complex movements that fire up the big and the core muscles.
This process continues post-workout for a few hours up to a week, guaranteeing long-term effects. The slower muscle fibers are low maintenance – they are depleted of glycogen and replenished quite fast, so in a moderate-intensity training like jogging or cycling, they’re all you use. In a high-intensity training, the faster muscle fibers get involved when you don’t give the slower fibers a chance to replenish, so they take several days to fully recover.
So what does a Tabata workout look like?
Any exercise can be incorporated into the Tabata training. However, the basic outline of the Tabata training method are as follows:
• Four minutes long
• 20 seconds of intense training
• 10 seconds of rest
• Total of eight sessions or rounds
Looks easy, no? No!
A proper warm up prior to the workout and a cool down after is mandatory to avoid any injuries. It seems simple, but you might not even be able to complete a session. If this is the case, rest until the next one. You can choose eight different exercises or do two rounds of the basic four: pushups, body weight squats, medicine ball slams and sprinting or rope jumping.
You’ll find a number of websites and YouTube videos that outline a variety of Tabata protocols. Choose what you think you’d enjoy doing. To aid you, there are even Tabata timer apps for your smartphone that beep at 20 and 10 second intervals for the entire four minutes.
Tabata is a great form of HIIT that doesn’t require much time or fancy gym equipment. A 15-minute session twice weekly might be all you need to lose unwanted fat and improve your overall fitness levels – provided you eat healthy, of course.
WE SAID THIS: No more excuses! Get fit and stay healthy.