What is a Tabata workout?

What is a Tabata workout?  Tabata training is a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout, featuring exercises that can last up to four minutes.

Tabata training was discovered at the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo by Dr. Izumi Tabata and his team of researchers.

They conducted research on two groups of athletes.  The first group of athletes trained at a moderate intensity for one hour, five days a week for six weeks.  The second group of athletes trained at a high-intensity for 4 minutes 20 seconds with 10 seconds rest between exercises, four days a week for six weeks.

The results showed that the high-intensity workout had more impact on the athlete’s aerobic system (cardiovascular) and the anaerobic system (muscle) than the moderate intensity workout.

When I design a program for clients, I look at how much time they have to workout and what their goals are.  I often design a 15-minute workout that starts with a warm up, then a 2-cycle Tabata workout, next some abdominal work, and ends with stretching.  Since most of my clients are not athletes, I modify the Tabata workout slightly to make it achievable.

When a client starts out, they do not have to go as fast or as intense as the traditional Tabata workout.  As they become more fit, they make the workout more intense.

This is how I structure most of my 15-minute workouts:

1 minute – warm-up

20-30 seconds – Exercise (4-6 exercises) – depending on the client’s fitness level

10 seconds – Rest

1 minute – Recovery

Repeat cycle

3 minutes of Abdominal work

3 minutes of Stretching

I have found that using an App on your smartphone for the timing keeps you moving along quickly without unnecessary breaks.  There are several Apps available; some have music that adjusts the beats per minute based on the interval phase.

It is always good to change up your exercise program.  Adding in a Tabata workout is a great way to get variety and give you a more intense program.

Holly Kouvo is a certified Personal Trainer, Nutrition Specialist, Functional Aging Specialist, speaker and writer.

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