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Tabata Training: What It Is and How You Do It

There are so many training fads out there that, although effective, gain popularity due to their gimmick and appeal to niche markets, rather than being better than the original exercises. A common example is yoga, which comes in so many shapes and forms that it’s hard to keep up with what is going to be the next one you’re being told to do.

But one of these uniquely named training forms is one that you shouldn't be discounting at all, and should be including into your workout regime to not only keep your body guessing, but to elevate your training – and this is called Tabata training.

At its most basic, Tabata training is a high-intensity interval training workout, featuring exercises that last four minutes. It was developed in Tokyo by Dr. Izumi Tabata, at the National institute of Fitness and Sports, and was used to train Olympian speed skaters at after it was seen how effective it was for not only their aerobic, but anaerobic fitness, it has since been taken up, with a few adjustments, by fitness geeks.    

Tabata training is done according to the same, simple principles. It's a timed interval method that alternates between 20-second intervals performed at maximum effort and 10-second stages of rest, repeated eight times for the ultimate exhaustive four-minute workout. Four minutes doesn't seem like a lot, but it is when you’re pushing your maximum for 20 second stages. One thing that must be noted is that Tabata won’t work if you do not push yourself to your maximum over that four minute period. It is basically putting your body into a state of intense physical exertion over a short period of time and maintaining this until the four minutes are up.

To summarise, the structure of the program is as follows:

·      Workout for 20 seconds

·      Rest for 10 seconds

·      Complete 8 sets

Examples of Tabata workouts:

Tabata workouts are normally cardiovascular exercises. You can do them weighted but they normally fall into the realm of bodyweight exercises that require you to physically exert your body in one movement.

They include:

·      Burpee

·      Push-Up

·      Lunge

·      Kettlebell Swing

·      Mountain Climbers

·      Russian Twists

·      Dumbbell Squat

·      Sprints

·      High knee jogs

·      Skipping rope hops

·      Box Jumps

·      Rowing


And that’s it. Next time you want to do HIIT exercises, try doing them the Tabata way and see how they work afterwards.

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