The Tabata Formula – Fad, or Fat Shredder?

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There are plenty of exercise fads are billed as the “next big thing in fitness”, only to fade into obscurity quickly. If you’ve been a fan of HIIT. training (as I have been for years) then you might want to check out Tabata.

You may not realize that workouts which are shorter-than-average often have the capacity to burn insane amounts of calories! Tabata delivers in this important respect – you can go hard, or you can go long, but you can’t truly do both!

With its origins in Olympic training Tabata can’t really be considered a fad, especially for how long it’s been around.

Get Better Results from Shorter Workouts

At the core of this training regimen is the ability to burn more fat in less time. Tabata is a popular type of HIIT (high-intensity interval) training which is composed of 8 rounds of super-high-intensity exercises, which are performed with an interval of “twenty seconds on, ten seconds off”.  This is extreme even compared to many HIIT programs that run one minute of intensity followed by 30 seconds rest, then repeat.

This regimen was created in Tokyo seventeen years ago, by Izumi Tabata. Fat-burning was not the original intent but rather to maximize athletic speed, output and recovery between sets. dr tabata

The creator of this workout style was employed as a researcher at Japan’s National Institute of Fitness and Sports. He developed these innovative workouts in order to assist athletes with their aerobic and anaerobic conditioning.

What Are These Workouts Like?

This type of workout usually lasts for just four minutes. It’s made up of repetitions which last twenty seconds each. The repetitions are intense exercise – think hyperventilation! After the twenty seconds of intense exercise, there is a ten second rest period, usually where I am gasping like a landed fish.

You’ll need a stopwatch or a workout buddy; don’t trust yourself to count accurately when under that kind of torture.

While it’s an “4-minute workout” I find that a good 10-minute warmup with some kind of cardio prior to the Tabata session is more effective, and easier on the joints.  Schedule a couple of cool-down minutes afterwards too.

Why Are These Workouts So Effective?

Studies have demonstrated that training of this type boosts the human body’s capacity to burn fat during the daytime. Basically, it helps you to burn fat hours after you’ve completed your short workouts! If you choose typical aerobic training over Tabata, your body will burn fat only while you do the aerobic training.

These workouts also raise VO2 max in certain people. VO2 max is the maximum quantity of oxygen which is utilized during workouts.

Who Are These Workouts Right For?

Understand that this workout style is very demanding. Many people hear the 4-minute workout part and think it’s a cinch – make no mistake, we’re talking about a 4 minutes beatdown that should leave you a slobbering mess if you’re doing it right.

The creator developed this form of exercise to help a speed skating team boost its fitness. As you can imagine, the speed skaters were rather fit to begin with! These workouts boost cardiovascular fitness and improve muscle endurance. To get through these intense workouts, you will need basic fitness, as well as mental toughness. You’ll have to push yourself through the workouts, because they are very hard workouts!

I recommend being in very good shape before embarking on this style of training. While you don’t need to have the conditioning of a competitive speed skater, you shouldn’t try these workouts if your idea of daily training is a stroll to a shop around the corner.

Tabata is perfect for those who already lead active and athletic lifestyles. It was designed to condition athletes. If you want to access a body which performs better during longer sessions of physical exertion, Tabata will deliver the right benefits.

But of course if you’re new to exercise talk to your doctor and get clearance for this kind of intense workout, or take his advice for adjusting the program for your situation.

Which Exercises are Performed?

Really, there are dozens to choose from. It’s possible to do it on fitness machines such as stationery bikes, elliptical machines and stair-climbers. Some people use real bikes or climb real stairs. Others use battle ropes, row or sprint. Some weighted exercises can work too like dumbbell thrusters or squats. In general, coaches and athletes like the following exercises the best:

Front Squats – Front squats which are performed with lighter weights are good because they activate a greater number of muscle groups. They are simple to begin and to complete. They will make you cry however (at least for me).

Kettlebell Swings – These swings with kettlebells boost coordination and conditioning and they feature rapid setup, which means that it will be simple to transition between your breaks.

Upper and Lower Body Combo – When you combine lower body and upper body exercise, you may stop certain muscles from getting tired. Go for four rounds of upper body exercise and then do four rounds of lower body exercise. One idea is four rounds of push-ups and four rounds of lunges.

If you want fast and efficient training, Tabata may be perfect for you. So, why not give it a try?

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