Workout Wednesday - Week 4
What is a Tabata Interval?
Tabata is a term coined for a certain training protocol by a Japanese professor in the 1970's called Isumi Tabata. He discovered through research that top end aerobic fitness called VO2max, could be enhanced through this specific protocol just as much as through steady state training but at a far reduced volume.
It is a form of HIIT (high intensity interval training), HIIE (high intensity interval exercise) or SIT (sprint interval training) and many various forms of his original protocol have since emerged and been modified or tweaked to suit the subject.
It requires that you exercise as hard as you can (or well above maximal aerobic effort) for 20secs, 8 times in a row with only 10secs of rest between each. The reasoning being, that the rest is just enough for muscular lactate accumulation to be managed or controlled enough that we can sustain this level for longer periods than just going hard for 4mins continuously, which lactate accumulation would normally start slowing us down decreasing intensity and muscular effort.
We since understand this methodology in a lot greater detail nowadays and it's not as simple as practicing this method regularly for a period of time and boom, your suddenly fitter. But with proper planning of when to do it, a smart choice of exercise/s to use and careful use of it along with other forms of exercise and and intensities and most will benefit from it. Training at this level also greatly enhances your insulin sensitivity, improved fat metabolism, can enhance muscular power output, lactate tolerance and others. For more enhanced benefits this VO2max protocol or similar, needs to be done 2-3 times a week, along with a few other lower intensity activities interspersed throughout the week to assist in more calorie burning, further stress aerobic system in different ways and aid in recovery from this intensive training.
We do also know that the more advanced and fitter people will need to spend a greater amount of time stressing the aerobic system at very near to, or above VO2max to elicit some fitness benefits, but for most people of average or slightly above fitness, this works.
You will need to have a recent history of some exercise or condition so the muscles are ready to handle this level of intensity without injury risk and some good base aerobic fitness. This is so 4mins at this level can be sustained or the likely outcome is, you'll fade towards the end, possibly spew (excess lactate), over work your muscles or simply hate it so much you'll never do it again...
It's hard to practice this protocol outside due to the hassles of having to waste time and energy to accelerate or decelerate, navigate traffic, people, obstacles and risk of falling off, over or out of your bike, feet or boat. So treadmill running (leave it running at speed while resting on side of machine), indoor bike, rower or some kind of ergometer are all samples of easy to use machines to do this.
However, during my bootcamps recently, I have been incorporating some Tabata interval sets into our circuits to develop this top end aerobic fitness. After a suitable warm up that includes some light aerobic activity, dynamic stretches, then some short but slightly harder aerobic efforts (ladder, skipping, running, stationary running, burpees are all examples), rest 1min or so, then get into it.
Stair running, up for 20secs, then rest or walk down for 10secs, repeat X8.
On the spot running with high knees
Fast feet on the spot
Alternating butt kicks on the spot
Fast step ups or hoping step ups
You could choose 4 of these and circuit through them twice each. Or do any one of them 8 times for the complete protocol, or circuit through all 8 or them in succession for a good variety.
The main thing is that you go hard from the start and maintain intensity right through the 4mins. You have an adequate warm up to properly prepare the heart, lungs, muscles and mind for what's about to hit them, then you warm down at a very easy intensity for at least 3mins but ideally 5mins or longer to properly clear lactate as this can hinder your physiological gains and recovery.
Also make sure you a properly trained to trial this level of intensity or come along to a Bootcamp and give it a go amongst other activities and exercises for a complete full body session.
Dare you to try it in the next few weeks and comment here when you have.
Next weeks workout Wednesday will elaborate more on this with a more sports specific protocol/s used to enhance this same top end fitness (VO2max).
So stay tuned!