Tabata Training: The Most Intense 4 Minutes of Your Day

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Tabata Training
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Tabata Training: What if I told you that there was a way for you to train to burn fat, increase endurance, and that it would only cost you four minutes of your day? Unless you’re already familiar with what I’m talking about, you’re likely thinking this is the start of an infomercial or that I’m nuts. Well, you’re not watching TV and I don’t think I’m THAT crazy. There has been a form of cardio training that’s taken the fitness world by storm both for its brief time commitment and for the results that come with it. It’s known as Tabata training for the man that made it famous, Dr. Izumi Tabata. He and his team at the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo conducted research with athletes based on the system and the results included improvements both aerobically and anaerobically.

By Roger Lockridge

Tabata training is a form of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) which alternates periods of high intense activity with brief moments of rest. Tabata training specifically calls for 20 seconds of all-out intensity with 10 seconds of inactivity. During those short rests, you should focus on breathing and preparing for your next phase of work. You would repeat this cycle eight times for a total of four minutes. So your four minutes would look like this.

20 seconds of work, 10 seconds of rest.

20 seconds of work, 10 seconds of rest.

20 seconds of work, 10 seconds of rest.

20 seconds of work, 10 seconds of rest.

20 seconds of work, 10 seconds of rest.

20 seconds of work, 10 seconds of rest.

20 seconds of work, 10 seconds of rest.

20 seconds of work, 10 seconds of rest.

Finished.

Tabata Training sprints

Working Tabata Training into your program

You can add Tabata to your own fitness program in one of two ways. You can either do it as a standalone cardio session or you can work it in after your weight training. Tabata can also serve you well on days that your schedule doesn’t allow you to train for longer periods of time. While it’s only four minutes of your day, don’t take Tabata lightly. If you don’t give maximum effort, it won’t provide the benefits that it should. Going all out is what it requires to get the most out of it. So by the time four minutes pass, you should be exhausted and ready for a break.

Sample Tabata Training Workouts

Sprints – Go to a football field, track, or area with long straight stretches. Sprint as hard and fast as you can for 20 seconds. During your 10 second break, catch your breath and prepare to sprint in the opposite direction. Repeat for four minutes. Don’t try this on a treadmill as you might risk injury.

Heavy Bag – Make sure you wear gloves to protect your hands and wrists from injury. During the 20 seconds of work, hit the bag as fast as you can with any combination of punches you like. Reposition yourself during your 10 second break. During the next 20 second period, focus on power and hit the bag with a combo of power punches. Alternate this pattern for the four minutes.

Elliptical or Stationary Bike – Tabata was actually researched with athletes on stationary bikes. You can also use an elliptical if bikes aren’t available. Don’t attempt to stop completely when your 20 seconds is up. Slow down gradually but keep pedaling so you can minimize chances of injury.

Advanced Method

As you become more familiar and comfortable with Tabata training, you can add four minute periods at a time. Perform one Tabata cycle, rest for 2-3 minutes, and repeat another Tabata cycle. Work your way to performing four Tabata cycles for a grand total of a 22 minute session counting breaks in between.