Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wednesday's Workout ~ Tabatas

Winter in Maine is a funny thing. One day we will get a foot of snow, wild winds will knock down mighty pines, and jack frost himself, complains of the chill. The very next day, 50 degrees, sun shining, snow melting into small ponds that freeze into ice rinks over night. On those nice days, you just want to go out and play but can't because everything is so wet.

Exercise gets to be redundant. I love karate class, because it is always changing up to learn new things, however morning workouts, are just a chore. Which is why I LOVE Tabata intervals. 4 minutes of hell and you are all done, and with the cardio conditioning of an hour of 2 minute intervals.

Effects of moderate-intensity endurance and high-intensity intermittent training on anaerobic capacity and VO2max. 
Tabata I, Nishimura K, Kouzaki M, Hirai Y, Ogita F, Miyachi M, Yamamoto K. 
Department of Physiology and Biomechanics, National Institute of Fitness and Sports, Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan. 
This study consists of two training experiments using a mechanically braked cycle ergometer. First, the effect of 6 wk of moderate-intensity endurance training (intensity: 70% of maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max), 60 min.d-1, 5 d.wk-1) on the anaerobic capacity (the maximal accumulated oxygen deficit) and VO2max was evaluated. After the training, the anaerobic capacity did not increase significantly (P > 0.10), while VO2max increased from 53 +/- 5 min-1 to 58 +/- 3 (P < 0.01) (mean +/- SD). Second, to quantify the effect of high-intensity intermittent training on energy release, seven subjects performed an intermittent training exercise 5 d.wk-1 for 6 wk. The exhaustive intermittent training consisted of seven to eight sets of 20-s exercise at an intensity of about 170% of VO2max with a 10-s rest between each bout. After the training period, VO2max increased by 7, while the anaerobic capacity increased by 28%. In conclusion, this study showed that moderate-intensity aerobic training that improves the maximal aerobic power does not change anaerobic capacity and that adequate high-intensity intermittent training may improve both anaerobic and aerobic energy supplying systems significantly, probably through imposing intensive stimuli on both systems. 
View Abstract At

What is a Tabata?
A Tabata Interval is 20 seconds of maximum intensity, followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeat 8 times for a total of 4 minutes.The original study used an exercise bike but you can do almost any type of exercise. Spinting seems to be the most popular.  Other exercises good for Tabatas are hitting the heavy bag, jump rope, burpees, box jumps, switch kicks, almost any cardio/bodyweight exercise that you can do at a fast pace.

In addition to figuring out what to do, you will need timer to figure out how long to do it. GymBoss is a popular and low cost option. Even cheaper, one of the free online timers like this one. There is already a preset for tabatas under the saved options, just select how many rounds you want to do, and that is always 8.

Do a light warm up before starting, because when you go, you are to go as hard as you can. The hardest part of training Tabatas for a fighter, is not leaving any gas in the tank. We are trained to stay on the mat and hit hard throughout the match. In order for this to benefit you in whatever sport you are in, is to leave every ounce of energy at the gym. I want you to be a heaving blob on the floor when you are done.

Rest is just as important as work
Don't skimp on the rest and if you can do more than 8 intervals, you aren't working hard enough. Professional athletes use this protocol and barely walk after, which is your goal. Some say that if you are sprinting for your work, that you may walk for your rest, in order to keep your heart up. I say no. It is important that your heart rate falls, so you can jolt it up to max, then it drops and rises again.

Add in rest days. Do not do Tabatas more than 3 times a week, and never do them on consecutive days. Your body, in order to be efficient, needs recovery. I do them twice a week, sometimes only once a week, even though I would rather do them daily.