It seems like there’s just not enough time in the day any more. We don’t know if it’s the rising professional expectations or our lack of time management skills…or maybe we just need to read Tim Ferris’ The 4-Hour Work Week again. Whatever it is, we are always looking for a way to get the most out of the free time we have. For those crunched for a workout, but can’t quite donate 30+ minutes to the cause, we have just the workout for you. It’s called Tabata and the workout has made quite the comeback thanks to CrossFit boxes across the world.
The original Tabata Protocol requires the following:
- 5 minutes of warm-up
- 8 intervals of 20 seconds all-out intensity exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest
- 5 minutes cool-down
And what makes the Tabata workout even better is that it can be applied to just about anything. Calisthenics, rowing, running, swimming, bodyweight exercises, etc. If you’ve been to a CrossFit box lately, you’ve probably done Tabata pushups, airsquats, situps, c2 row, pullups, etc. It can also be applied to multiple exercises and/or in an abridged form. For example you could perform 2 min of pushups, 2 min of airsquats, and 2 min of situps, all in Tabata style for a comprehensive killer workout.
The Tabata Protocol–named after Izumi Tabata, Ph.D., a former researcher at Japan’s National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Kanoya–is an interval routine developed by the head coach of the Japanese speed-skating team. (It’s called a protocol because Tabata and his team took the speed-skating coach’s workout and studied it to quantify just how effective it really was.)
In Tabata’s study, the researchers found that guys who used the routine five days a week for six weeks improved their maximum aerobic capacity (a measure of your body’s ability to consume oxygen–the more oxygen you can take in, the longer and harder you’ll be able to run) by 14%. What’s more, it also improved anaerobic capacity (which measures your speed endurance, or the duration you’re able to sprint at full effort) by 28%. So the Tabata Protocol is the rare workout that benefits both endurance athletes and sprinters–hard to accomplish. Consider: A study of traditional aerobic training–running at 70% of aerobic capacity for 60 minutes–for the same number of weeks showed an improvement in aerobic capacity of 9.5% and no effect on anaerobic capacity.
Have you ever done a Tabata workout? What do you think?