This past Friday I decided since Friday workouts are pretty short, I would do a tabata workout. Up until Wednesday, I had never heard of this type of workout, but thanks to my friend Sara (who keeps up with the latest trends and blogs in the running world), I learned about tabata. Well, I also learned a very good lesson from my tabata attempt on Friday and a long run on Saturday – don’t ever do these back-to-back. Your will be sore and your long might not be as long as you were hoping.
So what exactly is this tabata training?
Tabata training is the result of a study conducted by Dr. Izumi Tabata. It is a form of intense interval training done at a 2:1 ratio (intense 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds of rest). It has been scientifically proven to improve both aerobic and anaerobic systems. Here is a quick outline of the study: Dr. Tabata researched the effects of moderate intensity interval training and high intensity interval training among two groups of athletes. The moderate intensity group trained at 70% of VO2max while the high intensity group trained at 170% of VO2max. Both groups improved their aerobic systems; however, the high intensity group improved their anaerobic system by 28% while the moderate intensity saw no significant improvements. And in case you are wondering what good one system is over the other – your anaerobic system is what will help you sprint to the finish a little faster at your next race. It’s what allows you to go all out, and the harder you can push, the faster you’ll become.
Tabata training can be done with many types of exercises. You can use it for cardio intervals or you can use it for weighted exercises. However, whatever exercise you choose, you want to make sure you are using major muscle groups and your entire body. To do a tabata workout, warm up for five minutes first (walking, biking, jump rope, etc). Then do whatever exercise you have chosen at a hard, all out intensity for 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds of rest. Repeat this 20 – 10 interval 7 more times, for a total of 8 intervals. A complete set will take 4 minutes followed by 1 minute of rest. If you are already in shape, you can do several more exercises (maybe 3 more), for a complete 20 minute workout. Some complete, total body exercises that can be used for a tabata workout are:
- sit ups
- medicine ball slams
- kettle bell swings
- jackknife sit ups
- chin ups
Tabata certainly can’t replace those long runs, but it is great when you are short on time or just want to get in and out of the gym.
I am proud to say I made it through my tabata workout on Friday, but by the third interval, I was feeling an intense burn like no other. And as far as my long run went, by mile 2 of my 20 miler, I knew it was going to be a LONG morning. I was hurting and my quads checked out before I even got started. Needless to say, 18 was all I could manage (here are the stats).
Thank you Sara for the introduction to tabata. I look forward to doing some more of these workouts and will keep my fingers crossed that it will help me reach my sub 3:20 goal in Boston this April.
Happy Trails and Happy Running,