Tabata Training 101
By Jennipher Walters, Certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Instructor, for SparkPeople
Would you like to swap your usual workout out for one that's just four minutes long? Of course you would! Well, that's the allure of Tabata training, a type of super high-intensity interval training that is becoming more and more popular.
Said to deliver big results such as improved aerobic endurance, anaerobic endurance, muscular endurance and fat burning, Tabata training is all the rage these days. But what is Tabata training, exactly? Maybe more importantly, does it live up to the hype and is it really right-and safe-for you? Let's tackle some Tabata training questions one by one!
What Is Tabata Training? What Are the Benefits of Tabata Training?
While it may seem like Tabata training is the latest workout trend that's sweeping gyms everywhere, it's not exactly a brand new concept. In fact, it originated from the exercise research of Dr. Izumi Tabata. Dr. Tabata used a very specific method of interval training for his 1996 study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. In the study, he had cyclists perform 20 seconds of all-out effort followed by 10 seconds of rest. The participants repeated seven to eight sets of the exertion-rest intervals, equaling just about 4 minutes of actual workout time. The results were so striking that this type of training was named after its creator, hence "Tabata" training.
Subjects who performed Tabata training five days a week for six weeks (a total of 120 minutes of exercise over the month and a half) improved both their aerobic and anaerobic endurance. In fact, subject's anaerobic fitness increased by a whopping 28%. The control group exercised the same number of days, but for a full hour per session at a moderate intensity (for a total of 1,800 minutes over the study period). They also saw fitness improvements-but only in aerobic fitness-and it took them much, much more time exercising to achieve those gains.
Does It Really Work?
A number of studies have suggested that Tabata training does, in fact, work. Further studies have also made a case for Tabata training and other variations of high intensity interval training. A 2007 study in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that seven sessions of high intensity interval training over two weeks resulted in marked increases in whole body and skeletal muscle capacity for fatty acid oxidation during exercise in moderately active women. A 2009 study from the same journal found that young men cycling to maximum effort for four bouts of 30 seconds with four minutes of rest doubled their metabolic rate for three full hours after training. Also, a 2008 study in the Journal of Physiology found that these short, yet intense types of interval workouts can be a time-efficient way to get in shape and may help participants achieve fitness improvements comparable to longer, less-intense workouts.
While a number of research studies have explored Dr. Tabata's 20-seconds-on, 10-seconds-off interval training format for cycling and running activities, fitness professionals, athletes and casual exercisers are now applying the Tabata training concept to all kinds of different exercises, including weight lifting, swimming, athletic drills and more. Unlike other intervals where you just want to "work harder," by definition, Tabata training is working at an intensity level that is as hard and as fast as you can physically go-generally an anaerobic effort.
Should You Try Tabata Training?
Tabata training promises big results in little time, but true Tabata training requires participants to push themselves to the max-and that level of intensity is definitely not for everyone. Working out at such a high intensity is only appropriate for healthy, intermediate to advanced exercisers who have experience and knowledge in the type of exercise(s) they're doing. Tabata training takes your body to the extreme, so it's best if you've been working out regularly and are very comfortable with the exercises you'll be doing (more on that later). This ensures that you have better awareness of how hard to push your body (or when to back off) and that you have the know-how to maintain form (or modify your weight or exercise) when your body tires as you go through the intervals.
With that said, beginners can try Tabata-inspired intervals at a lower intensity that's more appropriate for their fitness level. However, anything less than maximum effort won't get the true Tabata training results. As always, if you're trying Tabata-or any new exercise-for the first time, it's a good idea to get it approved by your doctor and work with a fitness professional until you feel comfortable doing it on your own.
How Can I Incorporate Tabata Training into My Workouts?
Adding Tabata training into your workouts is easy! Swap one to two of your usual cardio workouts a week for quick Tabata training. Remember, you're doing precisely 20 seconds of maximum effort followed by just 10 seconds of rest for a total of seven to eight intervals. This can be done with almost any form of cardio exercise, including running, swimming, cycling, plyometrics, jumping rope and more...
Learn more about Tabata Training!
More from SparkPeople:
· VIDEO: 8-Minute Athletic Intervals Workout
· Over 110 Cardio Workout Ideas