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What is Tabata?

13 June 2016

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Whether you’re looking to gain muscle, get healthy, lose weight or stay fit so you can splurge on a cupcake now and again, we all have our reasons for working out. Often, the hardest part of going to the gym is determining which routine or class is right for you.

We recently discussed the basics of cardio workouts. Today, we’re building on that and sharing a high-intensity fitness regimen called Tabata that will kick your regular workout up a notch. In this blog, you’ll learn the principles of Tabata and how to incorporate the 4-minute Tabata routines into your daily life. (That’s right, we said each routine only takes four minutes).

What is Tabata?

In 1996, Izumi Tabata published his findings from his study of the Japanese Olympic speed-skating team, which eventually led to the creation of Tabata. The first group he observed trained at a moderate intensity level for one hour, five days a week, for six weeks. The second group trained at a high-intensity level for 20 minutes, four days a week, for six weeks.

In his study, he determined that during a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout, such as Tabata, where participants exercise for a shorter amount of time while exerting energy at a higher intensity level, the aerobic (cardiovascular) and anaerobic (muscle) fitness levels benefitted.

The Tabata Regimen

Even though Tabata routines only last four minutes, this workout isn’t for the faint of heart. It is intended for participants to push themselves harder than they normally would. After completing a Tabata routine, you should feel exhausted.

Each program is structured as follows:

Step 1: Choose one exercise, such as sprints, push-ups, squats or lunges.
Step 2: Work out as hard as you can for 20 seconds.
Step 3: Rest for 10 seconds.
Step 4: Repeat these steps for a total of eight times, thus totaling the 4-minute Tabata.

After completing all eight sets of your exercise, rest for one minute before repeating the steps with another exercise form.

How to Incorporate Tabata into Your Workout

We suggest adding Tabata routines into your regular regimen to give your workout a jumpstart. For example, if you’re an avid treadmill runner, try adding a Tabata every five minutes of your run. That jolt of high intensity will take your normal run to the next level.

If you’re not using a treadmill or equipment with a built-in timer, wearing a digital watch or using a stopwatch will help keep your Tabata workout on track. You can also find Tabata music playlists with rhythms that match the structure of the workout.

The YMCA HEALTHY LIVING CENTER - INTEGRIS incorporates Tabata in the Muscular Endurance Training and CardioExtreme classes. To find out when you can attend a class, visit the fitness center fitness schedule.