Those of you who read my introduction know I tend to focus my cardio component on high intensity training. One of the training methodologies I mentioned that I employ regularly is Tabata.
Tabata is a form of high intensity training that involves working to maximal effort for very short durations. Generally you combine 4 different exercises and perform them as quickly as you can with proper form for 20 seconds with a 10 second break between each of the 4 exercises. You would repeat the sequence 2 times for a total workout time of 4 minutes. And yes, you did read that correctly, a total workout time of only 4 minutes! Although it is only a short period of time, I guarantee you can have a very effective workout if you are working to your maximal effort. You should be sweating hard and exhausted by the end of the 4th minute. The goal is to try to increase your reps in the second round.
I just completed a Tabata running sprint the other day and I was never so happy to hear my timer beep at the end of the 4 minutes. I was fully exhausted and my legs even hurt a bit the next day. For this Tabata workout, I was mentally lazy that day and I didn’t feel like coming up with a grouping of 4 different exercises to do. So instead I opted to do sprint intervals on the treadmill. I did a 5 minute regular warm up and then got right into my Tabata. I sprinted for 20 seconds at a speed of 10.5 km/h at an incline of 3, but after the 3rd 20 second sprint I had to drop the intensity to 10.3 km/h because I was already exhausted. That is how hard you’re working. Ten seconds is hardly enough time for recovery before you start your next exercise (or sprint interval in my case).
The benefits of Tabata are the same ones you gain from any high intensity training protocol including boosting metabolic rate, burning a high amount of calories per unit of time, and shredding fat, which continues on even after your work out due to the “after burn” effect or Excess Post Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) (refer to my article on High Intensity vs. Low Intensity Training for more on EPOC).
Another obvious benefit of Tabata is that it doesn’t take up a lot of time and yet, provided you’re working to maximal effort, it is a very effective workout that can deliver great results. I surely know that anyone with a busy schedule will appreciate this. So no more excuses… Everyone has four minutes! 😉
Lastly, Tabata does not require any special equipment. This means you can do this type of workout anywhere using your own body weight – you don’t even need a gym membership (does it get any better than this?)! In fact, I’ve been known to do Tabata when I’m travelling and there is usually no gym in my hotel. It’s simple, just pick four exercises (or you can do what I did and just do one exercise for four times), like burpees, squat jumps, jump lunges, and plyometric push ups and push really hard for those 20 seconds. Repeat the sequence twice through. Remember to go as fast as you can without sacrificing your form.
Hopefully this article has spurred the interests of some of you Mirror Friendly followers and you’ll have a go at a Tabata workout. If you do, post a comment and let me know what you think and what exercise combinations you did. Do bear in mind that although it’s only four minutes, Tabata is very intense so I wouldn’t recommend doing it every day. Remember to take a break and let your body recover and repair.
To fitness with love,