Tabata Overview – Your 4 Minute Workout Solution
Would you be interested in a workout protocol that can drastically improve your anaerobic and aerobic output as well as turn your body into a calorie burning machine?
Oh, did I mention that it only takes 4 minutes a day?
I know what you are thinking. This sounds like an infomercial or email marketing scam. And you know what’s even better? It costs nothing, and you can choose to use equipment or simply go all “MacGyver” on your workout. This is a true anywhere/anytime workout solution.
Tabata can be exactly what you’re looking for when you need an effective workout, yet you might be tight on time. Tabata eliminates the “no time” excuse because it only takes about 4 minutes to get in a kick ass workout.
Pretty simple, right?
Well not exactly. It’s true that a Tabata workout can be completed in almost no time. However, it is far from a simple workout. If you are looking to challenge yourself, give Tabata a try. Like most things in life, you get out of it what you put into it.
In 1996, a group of Japanese researchers led by Dr. Izumi wanted to see what type of exercise was more effective. Long moderate intense workouts 5 days per week (5 hours total per week) or short all-out high-intensity workouts 5 days per week (20 minutes total per week). While certain areas of fitness improved for both groups, the participants in the short all-out workout group showed a 28% improvement over the long moderate intensity group.
And what makes these finding even more impressive is that it only took 20 minutes a week (wow!) to get those results. These were trained individuals, not people that had never worked out in their lives before.
HOW TO DO TABATA
1 Pick one exercise (Multi-joint exercises work best)
2 Perform at the highest intensity possible for 20 seconds
3 Rest 10 seconds
4 Repeat 7-8 more times.
If 8 rounds are too much initially, start slowly and work your way up to 7-8 rounds. Start with as many as you can do safely. That’s it, you’re done!
Working with a partner is the best way to ensure you put in the full 20 seconds of high intensity work and only take 10 second rest periods. Those 20 second work periods can feel like 20 minutes and the 10 second rest periods can feel like one second. If you don’t have a partner, use a digital clock that displays seconds or a standard clock with a second hand.
Don’t Overthink It!
Tabata is 4 minutes of all-out intensity. If you don’t put forth the max effort, then you won’t get the maximum benefits. Also, take your time working up to the max effort of 8 rounds, and don’t workout longer than 4 minutes. Expecting someone to perform all out intensity for 10, 20, 30, and even 60 minutes is unrealistic.
BEST EXERCISES FOR TABATA
The best exercises for Tabata are multi-joint exercises such as squats, pushups, etc. The key is to be able to instantly “ramp” up and down the effort. From all-out effort to a complete rest. Therefore, cardio machines like treadmills are not a good choice for Tabata as they take too long to speed up and slow down. Exercise bikes, rowers, or good old-fashioned wind sprints are great Tabata exercises. Hybrid exercises such as Dumbbell Thrusters and Iron Crosses are also great fits for Tabata.
The weight you will use will be much lower than what you use for a straight set. The weight should feel very easy the first few sets. Don’t be a hero and try and use too much weight, especially the first time you are trying an exercise and/or Tabata.
Halfway through your workout, the weight should become more challenging. By the end of your workout, you’ll really have to dig deep just to finish. Never sacrifice technique for weight/reps. Your goal is to complete all 20 second sets and not finish early because the weight is too heavy.
Tabata is great when time is an issue, or you just want a quick, effective workout. Here are some of the best times to use Tabata training:
- While traveling
- During times of increased work and/or family commitments
- Around the holidays when time is short, and food is abundant
- Before a cheat meal
- A replacement for longer, moderate intensity cardio
There you go. Tabata made simple. I mean, it only last 4 minutes. How hard can it be?