12 September 2010 ~ 1 Comment

Tabata – Ultra-High Intensity Interval Training

4 minute Workout??  In 4 minutes you can burn fat, increase power and endurance, and improve your fitness level.   No this is not another one of those ‘all you need is 10 minutes a day to get in bikini shape’ article.  This workout is definitely not for people just starting to exercise.  The regimen of Tabata training is for people who work out already, are in good condition, know their bodies and abilities and perhaps are looking for something to break through a plateau, reach the next level of athletic  fitness  or break up the boredom of a routine.

The method calls for selecting an exercise, then going all out and doing as many repetitions as possible in 20 seconds – followed by 10 seconds rest and then repeating 8 times.  This adds up to a total of 240 seconds or 4 minutes.

The approach was developed by Izumi Tabata PhD in Japan more than ten years ago when training elite athletes.  It is a way to burn calories and increase strength at the same time.   Tabata notes that his protocol “may improve both aerobic and anaerobic energy-supplying systems significantly.”

What is so great about this   besides the teeny time-commitment?

  1. Works the fast –twitch fibers.  About half our skeletal muscles are composed of fast-twitch fibers.
  2. Due to the increase in post-exercise oxygen consumption, (EPOC), your body will burn calories after your 4 minutes are through.  Super-intense Tabata can result in up to nine times greater fat reduction than regular aerobic workouts.   This got my attention!
  3. In his and others’ research, one of the findings is that quick-paced lower-body training can activate more muscle fibers in your gluteus maximus than slow repetitions.   Now he has my full attention!
  4. Tabata training can help build power and endurance.  This will allow you to lift more and train longer when you hit the weights at the gym

Tabata workouts are not recommended as an ongoing training regimen – it is meant to be used to kick-start a new training cycle; to break through a plateau and let you add more weight and not tire as quickly during strength training sets. And you should not do the routine more than twice a week.

Keep in mind that while you will be making strength gains, the muscular benefits are not the same as in a regular strength routine.  “It is not a strength-building protocol, it is a strength-endurance protocol”, explains Courtenay Schurman, MS, CSCS,  co-owner of Body Results in Seattle.

For specifics on how to utilize the Tabata method, I found details on the program in a recent Oxygen magazine.  And am reproducing it here – with full credit given to Oxygen.  Please note the cautions that accompany the program, including the warning that the “workout is absolutely not for beginners; and also to avoid it if you have pulmonary problems, high cholesterol or cardiovascular issues.  Otherwise “Enjoy”!!

See the summary below   –  then click on       

Tabata – intense training – Images         for more illustrative detail on the exercises.

Snapshot of exercise options for Tabata


One Response to “Tabata – Ultra-High Intensity Interval Training”

  1. Citymom2 13 October 2010 at 12:16 pm Permalink

    I just read about this type of workout in Fitness magazine over the weekend. Thanks for posting this outline.


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