HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, is having more than just a moment in the fitness world spotlight because research is backing up its claims of being more effective at boosting your fitness level in less time.
One intensified form of HIIT is called Tabata. In most formats, HITT’s rest periods are as long as or longer than the full-stop bursts, while Tabata only gives you 10 seconds of rest for every 20 you spend working out with maximum effort.
The result is efficient at building strength and maintaining or losing weight, but can also be brutal on your body without proper warm-up and cool-down routines.
Where did Tabata come from?
A 1996 study done by Japanese physician Dr. Izumi Tabata found that speed-skater athletes who trained at this pace for 4 minutes five times a week over six weeks improved their anerobic (muscular) capacity by 28% while a control group who worked out for one hour five times a week did not see any improvement.
The Tabata group also saw a bigger boost to their aerobic (cardiovascular) capacity than the control group.
How do I Tabata?
You can integrate virtually any cardio or strength exercise into a Tabata routine. You can stick with the original four-minute unit, but many workouts use these chunks as building blocks for a longer stretch, most commonly 16 minutes. Some can last for a half-hour or more.
For an example, if you’re going to do four minutes you can do pushups for all eight 20-second intervals, switch exercises after every minute (i.e. pushups, jumping jacks, burpees and squats) or switch after each 10-second rest interval (the first four plus jump kicks, lunges, mountain climbers and jumping rope).
Tabata workouts are endlessly adaptable, and the number of moves you can do them expands with each four-minute block, though the longer you work out the harder it gets to keep track of what you should be doing!
If you want to strength train you can choose one, four or eight moves that employ your favorite set of dumbbells. You can also alternate between aerobic and weight-bearing exercise, assuming any equipment you need will be within easy reach.
Should I Tabata?
Because of its souped-up intensity, Tabata is generally recommended for people who have done HIITs for a while or have spent enough time doing whatever exercises are involved to perfect their form and minimize their risk of injury.
If you decide to give Tabata a try, do make time for five to eight minutes of dynamic stretches like hip rocks, arm circles and such yoga stretches as threading the needle. This and a cool-down of at least five minutes will prepare you for and allow you to recover as you throw everything you’ve got into the workout and see some amazing results.
Dre Caldwell | Photo: Blushing Cactus Photography