It’s a new year and per usual, a lot of us are looking for ways to shake up our routine, find new things that excite us, and continue to grow on the never-ending journey of self-improvement. Whether you’ve been a long time yogi, dedicated cross fitter, runner, dancer, boxer, or all around outdoors enthusiast, switching up your fitness game is always a good move to keep your body and mind interested.
Tabata is an exercise regimen that’s actually been around since the mid-90’s, but has recently started to gain steam in the mainstream. Tabata is a high-intensity interval workout inspired by Japanese researcher, Dr. Izumi Tabata (1) that was developed at the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo. He created this method of training for athletes in 1996, specifically to see if it would improve the performance of skaters. The interval cycles were all out intensity for 20 seconds, followed by 10 seconds of rest, and the cycles were repeated for 8 rounds totaling 4 minutes. This method of training seemed to improve aerobic and anaerobic systems for the athletes.
You may already be familiar with the family of exercise Tabata falls into, otherwise known as HIIT: High-Intensity Interval Training. In our lives that seem to be getting faster and busier by the moment, high-intensity workouts can be a great option to get more out of less time by working a wider range of muscle groups than traditional cardio. One of the benefits of Tabata are burning fat by increasing your Basal Metabolic Rate (2) (BMR), the basic number of calories required to keep your body functioning while at rest. Another benefit mentioned earlier is increased aerobic capacity, or the amount of oxygen your body consumes during exercise, and increased anaerobic capacity, the greatest amount of energy your body can produce by burning carbs in the absence of oxygen.
Another benefit of integrating Tabata workouts into your regular physical activity is efficiency. You don’t need 45 minutes to 1 hour to workout anymore. You don’t even have to leave your house, which also saves you some cash from a gym membership, and who doesn’t want more money back in their pockets?
If you’d like to build a Tabata workout for yourself, this is a great guide from Men’s Journal (3) on how to put one together:
- “Decide if you’re going to lift (choose a compound exercise like the bench press, deadlift, or squat) or do cardio,” says Rich Butkevic, a trainer and author of Four Minutes of Pain: The Ultimate Guide to Tabata Training. “You can transform virtually any cardio activity into a Tabata-style workout.”
- Do a five- to 10-minute warmup on a stationary bike to get your blood flowing and muscles loose. Any dynamic warmup will work, though.
- Do the first “set” of your exercise for 20 seconds. Just knock out as many reps as you can.
- Rest for 10 seconds. Make sure to use good form, whether running or hitting the weights.
- Repeat steps 3 and 4 for four minutes.
And Scene. Done. Finito. That’s it. There’s also some great apps available to help guide you through a Tabata workout, one of them being the 8 Fit app (4). In addition to Tabata, they also provide customized meal plans based on your fitness goals and dietary needs and restrictions.
So, if you’re looking for a fresh start to the new year and want to shake things up, or maybe you’re on a budget and need to cut out that gym membership for a while, or are working with a limited amount of time, give Tabata a try!
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