Tabata Intervals Provide Quality High Intensity Training

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By Sal | May 13, 2009

Named after pioneering Japanese researcher Izumi Tabata, Tabata Intervals consist of 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest for 4-minutes and 8 intense intervals.

Tabatas research determined that this interval of work-to-rest benefits aerobic and anaerobic systems.  Tabata and his team studied subjects who worked at 170% of their VO2 Max - maximal oxygen uptake - and found anaerobic capacity increased by 28%.

Working at 170% isn't possible for the vast majority of people regardless of their level of fitness or athleticism.  Most people can't sprint at 100% effort for 20 seconds once.  But clients can benefit from using this pattern of 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest for 4 minutes.

Tabata intervals are a gut check and a test of physical conditioning, yet can be used with almost every kind of exercise and can be modified for just about everybody to use.  For all clients an element of relative intensity must be included.

Get clients comfortable working with Tabata intervals by doing jumping jacks.

Back to the concept of "relative intensity."  If a client who is in decent shape can't/doesn't perform 15 jumping jacks per interval they won't get anything out of the Tabatas, but for a beginner 15 jacks may be the perfect amount.  And for beginners, you just can't have them walk for 20 seconds and take 10 seconds off. You may have to have them jog or trot for 20 seconds even if they've never jogged or trotted.

Even if a client is in pretty good shape, doing jumping jacks "the Tabata way" will give them an idea for how this program could kick their butt with tougher moves.  After jacks try jumping rope, assuming the client can jump rope (35-40 times in 20-seconds).  Then move on to squat thrusts (7-10 reps in 20-seconds).

When the client makes it through these basic moves "double up" and have them do 4-minutes of Tabata jumping jacks and after a 2-minute rest 4-minutes of squat thrusts.  The next step is to eliminate the 2-minute rest and go for 8-minutes straight.

With this kind of training, even if a client is in phenomenal shape, take it slow and use Tabatas no more than once per week.  Start with the basic movements before moving up to Tabatas with a sledgehammer, Kettlebell, on a stationary bike or sprinting. Using the proper relative intensity your clients will reap the benefits unique to Tabatas.

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Topics: Personal Trainer Coaching, Training Philosophy, Training Style, Workouts | 2 Comments »

2 Responses to “Tabata Intervals Provide Quality High Intensity Training”

  1. Tami
    6:03 pm on June 15th, 2009

    Hi. Great article! Believe the name of the researcher is Izumi Tabata, though. Cheers!

  2. Sal
    8:13 pm on June 15th, 2009

    You are correct! I went back to my notes and found that I combined the names of two researchers K Nishimura and I Tabata, from the study. Thanks!