Tabata Training: Short…But Truly Sweet

Have you heard of Tabata training? If you’re short on time and looking for some training that yields the most bang for the buck, look no further than Tabata. Tabata training, named after Dr. Izumi Tabata, goes back to a 1996 study in Japan where subjects alternated between 20 seconds of ultra-intense exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest and repeated continuously for 4 minutes or 8 cycles.

If a Tabata regimen is done correctly, one word will quickly begin to rise to the surface…pain! This method can be applied to any form of exercise but for our purposes, we’ll focus on utilizing Tabata in running.

Tabata intervals should only be attempted by runners who are fit and have some recent interval experience (i.e. 200m, 400m, 800m).

*Note: Due to its high intensity level, Tabata should only be done once per week in the beginning. You may even want to consult a physician beforehand. After a few months, you can increase to twice a week.

Tabata intervals can be done at a local track or on trails. If you don’t have access to a track or trails, find a road with minimal traffic. This workout is not only intense, it requires extreme focus and discipline as you pay attention to your watch.

With Tabata Training Always…

Begin with a 1-2 mile warm-up of light running. Normally, I recommend stretching after a workout but in the case of Tabata, I recommend some light stretching immediately after the 1-2 mile warm-up. The Tabata routine goes like this…

  • Push very hard for 20 seconds (pretty much 100% effort)
  • Rest for 10 seconds
  • Repeat this eight times

You should be feeling pretty taxed by the third or fourth interval but this is where the real “fun” begins as you push through the pain. It’s crucial to stay tuned to your watch, especially as your body tries to encourage you to rest longer than 10 seconds before beginning the next interval. This short rest/hard run cycle is pure magic in multiple ways. Upon completing the last interval, finish with another mile of cool down running before stretching.

Tabata Training…

  • Increases Strength – you’re building those fast twitch muscle fibers
  • Increases Cardiovascular endurance – sustained discomfort with short rest
  • Increases Anaerobic capacity – no other form of training compares in this area
  • Increases VO2 Max – the maximum capacity of the body to transport oxygen for use
  • Teaches your body to recover quickly and remove metabolic waste products more efficiently
  • Improves running economy – how efficiently a person uses oxygen while running at a given pace

As you incorporate Tabata training into your workouts, you’re sure to see your body reach a new level of fitness and speed in a short amount of time. If you find that you’re unable to make it to 4 minutes, stop at 2 minutes and slowly build up.

If you don’t look like this after the workout, you simply didn’t push hard enough

Tired runner

 

You say potato…I say Tabata!

 

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