The fitness world is ever-changing, and so are the workouts and fitness strategies. Exercise is a good thing. It has several positive benefits on the mind, body, and soul. There’s an unending list of the trendiest workouts in the news. From training with equipment, the world is now, slowly but steadily, progressing to training without the use any equipment. From low to moderate intensity training workouts, people are now adapting high-intensity training workouts for a number of reasons. One such HIIT workout doing the rounds, is Tabata.
What is Tabata?
Tabata is a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout. It came into being with great design, and aims at getting the heart rate up for short periods of time.
Tabata was discovered by Japanese Scientist, Dr. Izumi Tabata, and a team of researchers from the National Institute of Fitness and Sports, in Japan. Dr. Tabata, and the faculty of Sports and Health Science at the University, along with the head coach of the Japanese speed racing team, wanted to experiment with an exercise, to find out if short bursts of high-intensity training (20 seconds) followed by shorter periods of rest (10 seconds) would help improve the body’s endurance and performance. As a result, it was discovered that a high-intensity interval training workout has more impact on the aerobic and anaerobic system.
It was discovered that Tabata works on the overall health of a person by improving athletic performance and glucose metabolism, hence, accelerating the fat burning process.
Although it is considered as one to the hardest workouts, Tabata is fast becoming a go-to workout that keeps the body burning calories even after the workout. The workout-to-rest ratio of a Tabata circuit, is what keeps the heart rate up and makes the workout so effective in building endurance.
Tabata works well as a workout for those who are short on time or those who wish to increase endurance and speed. It is a cost-effective workout that does not require equipment and can be done anywhere, at anytime.
A high-intensity interval training workout leads to an increase in the Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), to help the body survive the high intensity of the workout. BMR is directly proportional to the rate at which the body burns fat. Therefore, an increase in the BMR leads to an effective fat burning process. An HIIT workout also leads to an increase in metabolic rate which helps the body burn fat even after the workout is complete.
Improves Muscle Growth
During any exercise, the body undergoes exertion. This exertion causes microscopic tears in the muscle tissue. In order to help repair these tears, the cells of the muscle tissue grow, to help repair any tiny gaps. This growth of the muscle tissue cells is termed as muscle growth. During an HIIT workout, like Tabata, the body exerts far more than during any low intensity workouts, and so, due to the intense strain on the muscles, the growth and repair of the muscle tissue happens at a faster pace.
Improves Aerobic Capacity
The maximum amount of oxygen that the body is capable of taking in is called the aerobic capacity of the body. Oxygen fuels the body to keep going during a strenuous workout, or exertion of any form. The oxygen capacity of the body gradually increases as the activity levels increase. Tabata has been directly linked to an increase in the aerobic capacity of the body. This means that Tabata helps the body to up the endurance capacity and the oxygen levels.
Boosts Anaerobic Capacity
Anaerobic capacity refers to the amount of energy that the body can produce without a steady supply of oxygen. During an anaerobic workout, the body burns carbohydrates as fuel for the body. HIIT workouts, like Tabata, have been linked to the improvement of the anaerobic capacity as compared to moderate-intensity training workouts, which do not result in a noticeable increase in aerobic capacity.
One of our much-loved clients at Wellintra, fondly refers to Tabata training as “absolute death”! Yes, this is but a four-minute circuit, but it is intense enough to leave you gasping for air. The workout-to-rest ratio in one Tabata circuit is 20 secs:10 secs. The structure of one circuit of the program is a follows:
• Intense workout – 20 seconds
• Rest – 10 seconds
Complete 8 rounds of the above.
Total duration of the circuit- 4 minutes.
Tabata includes different forms of exercises that target large muscle groups. A circuit often includes:
- Kettlebell exercises
- Mountain climbers
- Jump Squats
- Jump Lunges
Since the HIIT workout is extremely tedious, and hard on the body, a good warm-up is recommended before beginning a Tabata circuit. A 10 minute warm-up is recommended to help the body gain flexibility. Though the intensity might differ, a twice-per-week routine works well for anyone who wants to include Tabata in their training regimen. It’s is advised that beginners start with a light intensity training before progressing to the high-interval training program. However, the workout-to-rest ratio (20s:10s) should be maintained.
If doing more than one circuit, make sure to rest for at least 60 seconds between circuits.
As the workout progresses, Lactic acid continues to accumulate in the muscles, causing muscle fatigue and muscle soreness, making it harder to keep up with the intensity of the circuit. In times like this, make sure to be be cautious of possible injuries. Needless to say, in case of breathlessness or any form of discomfort, extend recovery time, or skip the next circuit. The key is to listen to the body. Sooner or later, the body will adapt, but till then, take it slow.
Below, is a video showing the basic exercises for a beginner’s Tabata workout by a very talented group:
Yes, the Tabata workout is a four-minute miracle workout with quick and effective results, but make sure to check with your medical specialists, and also, your body, before you include this form of HIIT workout in your fitness routine!