If you haven’t heard of Tabata yet, you probably will soon, because Tabata training is one of the hot new terms in fitness. I first heard of it during spin class, when all of a sudden we were charged with 20 seconds of all out high intensity bursts followed by a few seconds of recovery. And repeat. And repeat again for a total of eight bursts of cycling intensity. Imagine a room full of sweaty people in drenched workout clothes out of breath and panting profusely. That is how Tabata looked that morning at 6:30 a.m. when I first attempted it.
Named after Professor Izumi Tabata, the scientist behind this method of training, Tabata started as a workout for speed skaters in Japan, and it has now become popular in all types of workouts, from spin class to full-body Tabata training. While I was first introduced to Tabata on a spin bike, some people are turning to Tabata-style full-body workouts on a regular basis because they are efficient and effective. The format generally follows the same pattern of 20 seconds of intensity (or as many reps as possible) followed by 10 seconds of rest for four-minute intervals. They begin with a warmup and end with a cool-down.
The Tabata method is not, at least in my opinion, a workout for the faint of heart, if what I experienced in four minutes on a spin bike is any indication of what a full-body workout entails. To confirm that, I asked Kat Robertson of FitnessRebooted.com for her thoughts about Tabata.
“Tabata is something that I personally incorporate sparingly for the majority of my clients as a means of muscle confusion to mix things up, since putting the body under the same type of physical stress repeatedly will result in a plateau. And training is about progression.
Tabata is a beneficial element for someone looking to build fast-twitch muscle which aids in developing speed. Athletes like runners may benefit more from this type of program than someone who is simply trying to lose a few pounds since it was not designed with the beginner-level fitness enthusiast in mind. I don’t believe I would ever create a training program with Tabata as a ‘standalone’ plan, but it can be a valuable asset incorporated into an overall routine.
No matter who tries out the Tabata training method, they’ll want to be sure they’ve mastered the form of every exercise they intend to cycle through AND that they have a habit of warming up/stretching well before and after workouts because high-intensity repetitions without perfectly proper form (or with ‘cold’ muscles) could potentially result in injury.”
In a recent study, the American Council on Exercise® (ACE) found that the Tabata method can be a powerful tool for enhancing health and facilitating weight loss. Now gyms across the country are offering Tabata in workout classes as well as in personal training sessions. Because it uses extreme amounts of energy and the entire body, experts suggest that you should give yourself ample recovery time in between Tabata workouts. If you want to try a Tabata workout on your own, there are several videos that you can follow along with on Youtube to ensure that you are using proper form. You can also download Tabata music and timers to keep you on track during your workout.
So who’s ready to Tabata with me? 3… 2… 1… Tabata!
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