Ready to take your workout somewhere it may have never gone before? Do you have four minutes (yes only four minutes) to spare? Great! Let me introduce you to Tabata (Ta-ba-tah) Training. If you haven’t heard of Tabata – perfect. I will break it down for you. Tabata is named after the researcher Izumi Tabata of the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Kanoya, Japan.
I am a big fan of High Intensity Interval Training in order to push myself and my clients to the next level and Tabata is a different, challenging form of HIIT. I know what you are thinking, Tah-what-ah? It is Tabata Training and you’re gonna love it. You’ll never look at four minutes the same way again!
The good news about Tabata is you do not need any fancy equipment, and Tabata is proof that you do not need to work out for long periods of time to get results. In fact, it’s just the opposite and is still a great way to challenge your mind and body without overtraining. No more excuses! If you are short on time, you can always squeeze in a short but effective Tabata workout.
Let’s get started!
How Do You Do Tabata?
The Tabata Training Method is an advanced form of exercise that requires you to be fit, as well as mentally strong (you will see what I mean once you do your first circuit)! The method is designed to last four minutes, however, within those four minutes you have to go through eight intervals. Each interval lasts 20 seconds at a very high intensity. You train as hard as you possibly can in those 20 second intervals. Then you rest for 10 seconds and repeat. It is a very intense interval workout and that is why it only lasts four minutes.
(20 seconds of high-intensity training + 10 seconds of rest) x 8 = 4 minutes
Who Is Tabata Good For?
For those of you in a workout plateau, or who are bored out of their mind doing the same thing over and over again, Tabata may be just what you need. It is not a good idea if you are not used to pushing your heart rate to max levels and it is not ideal for those new to working out.
Disclaimer: I also would recommend that you check with your doctor before trying Tabata out, just to be on the safe side.
How Often Do You Do Tabata?
This is not a daily workout. Only introduce Tabata to your training when you are used to getting your heart rate up high. Do not go over your max heart rate. Again, this is not a workout for beginners. I recommend starting very slow at first and maybe not doing all sets of eight. I must emphasize to make sure you warm up and cool down before you dive into it. Remember, you should not be able to do this every day and if you feel you can you need much more intensity. Some people incorporate it once a week but most end up doing Tabata a few times a month to switch up their normal workout routine. Nonetheless, it produces remarkable results for those brave enough to use it. You got this sporty sister!
To Get Started:
Once you are warmed up, you will need a counter or a stop watch (there’s an App for that!) unless you have someone counting for you. It’s very hard to mentally push yourself AND count at the same time, so make sure you are covered with a timer or someone else to count for you.
The easiest way, and with no fancy equipment needed, is to start with just using your legs! For example, you can sprint for 20 seconds; stop or walk for 10 seconds; sprint for 20 seconds; stop or walk for 10 seconds. Do this eight times and you are all done!
My favorite way to do this style of high intensity interval training is in a spin class or running stairs. It is so hard during one of these activities but such a great reward after and you feel like a super star when you are done. Recently, a client and I started running together incorporating Tabata and she just loves it now. It changed her physical body and her mental block. Talk about hard work (pheeew!) but it goes by fast. You can do Tabata with nearly any cardio and create circuits including a jump rope, biking, treadmill, elliptical, circuit workouts, kettle bells, TRX, sliders, etc. You get the picture.
What Are The Benefits?
- SAVE TIME: Get more done in less time. This will also keep you from over training and overuse injuries.
- AEROBIC AND ANAEROBIC CONDITIONING: You will improve both – not just Aerobic. It’s all about getting fitter, faster and stronger. Plus, if you are in a fitness rut, this might be just what you need to switch up your workout routine and confuse your body.
- REV UP YOUR METABOLISM: Your metabolism will stay high, not only during but after the workout as well. Bonus! Same as above, you want to keep your body guessing. The trick to getting all these amazing benefits is the level of intensity you push at. You want to go as hard as YOU can, (not your neighbors intensity) and push 100% maximal effort in the 20 second intervals.
- BEAT BOREDOM: You can’t really be bored with Tabata because it requires you to be very focused. When you know it is only 4 minutes then you usually find a way to push harder than maybe you normally would.
Some fun facts about Tabata:
- 28% of Athletes increased in v02 max (the oxygen you can use during a workout, which is a marker of aerobic fitness) after six weeks of Tabata training. That is pretty impressive if you ask me.
- On average, you can burn 53 calories in just one four minute circuit! That is a super deal.
My Final Tips:
- Start with a very basic interval that you are comfortable with.
- Have a good timer (great Apps are available) or maybe a friend can coach you and then you coach them right back.
- Always honor your body no matter what. Never take it to a place it does not want to go. If you are kind to it, it will be kind to you. You do not want to abuse this one-of-a-kind workout by overtraining.
- Start off small, be smart, work hard and most importantly have fun!
- Last but not least and as silly as it may sound, I would set a good mantra to say to yourself during the hard pushes. What’s my favorite? Easy: “NEVER, NEVER, GIVE UP!”
Try this: Tabata on Cardio Machines
Sprint the “20 secs on and 10 sec recovery” 8 times on the following cardio machines:
- Spin bike
- Stair climber
- Jump rope
- Kettle bells
Remember you want as much gear or incline as you can for the 20 secs pushes. You want resistance as hard as you can and an incline that will get your heart rate up. This will also put your muscles to work and keep your joints safe. Using “no or very low” resistance is a bad idea, waste of time, and can lead to injury.
Stay tuned for 3 killer Tabata circuits by Monica – coming this Friday (just in time for a weekend workout)!
Two of Monica’s workouts are body weight circuits that can be done anywhere and one is a circuit you can do with dumbbells. Get excited!
Monica Nelson is a personal trainer, chef, accomplished athlete, model and much loved health and fitness expert based in LA. She inspires her clients to look and feel their best with her life motto: EAT WELL, STAY FIT, FEEL GREAT.
One of her greatest passions is cooking and the talented Moni loves to whip up healthy and decadent meals for her readers to enjoy. On any given day you can find her being creative in the kitchen, training her clients in the park, at the beach, out for a bike ride or catching big air on her snowboard.