Tabata Training is used by multiple professional athletes. Studies have shown that 4 minutes of Tabata training is more effective than 60 minutes of a traditional cardiovascular workout in increasing aerobic capacity, anaerobic capacity, one’s VO2 max, and fat-burning potential throughout the day. However, don’t let that fool you into thinking that because it’s so short, it’s easy. If you’re doing it right, these 4 minutes will seem like nothing short of 240 seconds of hell.
What exactly is Tabata Training and why is it so tough?
Tabata training is 20 seconds of work done at maximum intensity followed by only 10 seconds of rest and repeated 8 times without a pause for a total of 4 minutes. The 2:1 ratio here is what makes this so difficult and recovering in only half the time it takes to do the actual sprint speaks volumes about how difficult it is. If it was easy, everyone would do it.
It’s not how long you spend in the gym, it’s about what you do in it. In studies, the subjects who performed the very demanding and exhausting Tabata routine 5 days a week, Tabata training increased subjects’ maximium aerobic capacity by 14% and anaerobic capacity by 28%. Traditional static cardio, running at 70% of aerobic capacity for 60 minutes, increased the other subjects’ aerobic capacity by only 9.5%. Those subjects saw absolutely no improvement in their anaerobic capacity. Also, sprinting maintains muscle mass while low-intensity cardio has a canabolic (muscle-wasting) effect on the body. The more muscle you have, the more fat you burn to maintain that muscle mass on the body.
Furthermore, the high intensity nature of this exercise burns more calories well after the exercise is over. You will have an increased metabolism throughout the rest of the week from this type of central nervous system stimulation. Studies show that oxygen consumption and fat oxidation increases considerably, which requires a lot of energy expenditure to maintain homeostasis. Studies also show that there is a 9x greater decrease in subcutaneous skinfolds (fat) when doing HIIT than traditional endurance based workouts. Just take a look around your gym the next time you go and look at the one’s who are usually int he best shape: it’s the one’s who are the “meatheads’ going all-out and lifting maximal loads for a few reps, or those athletes who do sprint-based workouts. Hint: INTENSITY.
How to Tabata
So now you are convinced by its effects, how do you do it? Well, an example would be to do it outside on a track. You would sprint as fast as you can for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, sprint as fast as you can again for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, and repeat the process 6 more times. However, it shouldn’t stop there, because you should then try to beat the distance you’ve covered each workout.
If you can’t do this outside, you can do this with any piece of equipment in the gym from weights to machines. You can do a workout routine like this with bench press: 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off; or even squats; or deadlifts. However, a treadmill would be great for this. You can set the treadmill at a designated incline and speed where you can barely run on it for more than 20 seconds; and then grab the handle bars to step off and on it very carefully during your 4 minute routine. You can also do this on the bike; where you sprint at a particular level for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, and repeat 8 times.