Tabata Time!

Picture courtesy of Huffington Post

I am in love with Tabata style workouts.  These are a form of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) following a specific, timed routine per exercise.  In tabata you work all out for 20 seconds and then rest for 10 seconds, repeating a total of 8 times for one 4 minute round.  Tabata is named after the creator Dr. Izumi Tabata a Japanese physician and researcher.  For the study, Dr. Tabata put two groups on an exercise program for six weeks. The control group was assigned one hour of moderate intensity work, five days a week. The other group was assigned high-intensity Tabata-style training, one round or 4 minutes per workout.  The results?  The tabata group improved aerobic fitness and drastically improved anaerobic fitness (increase of 28%).

So what does a typical tabata look like?  There are two schools of thought on this.

Option 1: perform 1 exercise for the entire round, 20 seconds of all out exertion, 10 seconds of rest, repeated 8 times (20/10 x 8).  You can incorporate as many exercises (rounds) as you would like, resting 30 seconds or so between rounds.

  • Round 1: Jumping Jacks (20/10 x 8)
  • rest 30 seconds
  • Round 2: Squats (20/10 x8)
  • rest 30 seconds
  • etc

Option 2: perform a rotation or exercises during the round, repeating the rotation as needed to complete 8 repetitions of 20 seconds all out exertion and 10 seconds rest (20/10).  Multiple rounds can be done with the same rotation of exercises or different exercises.

  • Round 1: 20 seconds jumping jacks, 10 rest, 20 seconds squats, 10 rest, 20 seconds burpees, 10 rest, 20 seconds mountain climbers, 10 seconds rest, repeat.
  • rest 30 seconds
  • Round 2: could be a repeat of round 1 or could be 4 to 8 new exercises performed in the same manner

You can use just about any movement, including those with weights, within the tabata rounds. Tabata style workouts can also be applied to cardio routines.  For example, to increase speed for running you could sprint all out for 20 seconds, rest for 10 and repeat 8 times for one round.  You can download a free tabata timer app or checkout this free tabata timer here to make timing your intervals effortless.

A word of caution: Tabata style work outs are very intense.  If you are new to tabatas, start with one round and gradually work your way up to multiple rounds.  Be sure to warm up for at least 3 minutes before starting.  These warm ups should involve dynamic movements like jogging in place, slow jumping jacks, hopping, skipping, etc.

Short on time?  Do 3 to 4 one round tabatas (approximately 4 mins each without warm up) throughout your day.  Have 20 minutes in the morning, on lunch or at night?  You can get an extremely taxing and intense workout in by warming up for 3 minutes, doing a 4 round tabata and cooling down for three minutes (ok that adds up to 22 minutes).

Once you get started, I know you will love tabatas as much as I do.

Submitted by Jodi Langellotti, avid runner, fitness enthusiast and Health and Wellness Coach.


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