Tabata Training: What is it?

Even for those with well established exercise and gym routines, the New Year is a great opportunity to reassess your fitness program. What goals you have for your training? Do you want to lose fat? Improve endurance? Add muscle size and strength?  Are you simply bored with your program?  If you’ve answered “yes” to any of the above, it might be time to try Tabata training.

 “Tabata” is a type of training you probably haven’t heard much about, but more and more people are learning about and benefitting from its results. Tabata is a form of high intensity interval training and provides the same benefits of traditional cardio workouts—but with a little more spice to it. Even better, instead of a typical bout of cardio exercise lasting in excess of 30 minutes, Tabata can be completed in 4 minutes!

Tabata was first founded by a Japanese physiologist named Izumi Tabata.  Along with fellow scientists, Tabata conducted a study to compare moderate intensity training versus high intensity training. They discovered that athletes training at moderate intensity (5 days a week for a total of 6 weeks at 70% intensity, lasting an hour each time) demonstrated a significant increase in their aerobic capacity (cardiovascular fitness), but had little to no gain in their anaerobic capacity (ability to perform high intensity activities like weight-lifting or sprinting). On the other hand, athletes performing a high intensity training program (4 days a week for a total of 6 weeks at 170% intensity lasting 4 minutes total), demonstrated superior aerobic capacity improvements compared to their moderate intensity counterparts  as well as a 28% boost to their anaerobic capacity.  What does this mean? High intensity training appears to improve muscular strength and endurance as well as cardiovascular fitness.

So what does a sample Tabata design look like? Keep in mind, almost any exercise can be incorporated into a Tabata regimen. However, a basic outline of the Tabata training principles are as follows:

  • 4 total minutes of training
  • 20 sec of intense training, 10 sec of rest = 1 round
  • Total of 8 rounds

Sample Tabata Routine:

  • Push ups for intervals 1 and 3
  • Body weight squats for intervals 2 and 4
  • Medicine ball slams for intervals 5 and 7
  • Sprints or jump rope for intervals 6 and 8
Check out this video for more examples of good Tabata intensity exercises.  

Now, that you have the concepts of Tabata training, you’re ready to begin incorporating it into your regular exercise routine. Make sure to give yourself a proper warm up and cool down to prevent any injuries. At CPMC’sSportsWellnessCenter, we integrate Tabata training during our one-on-one fitness programs and Total Body Fitness classes on Tuesday nights at 7 pm and Saturday mornings at 10 am. Come check us out!

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