It amazes me how many new and experienced strength trainers alike make fundamental mass building mistakes. It’s been beaten into our heads for so long that we must spend hours and hours under load to get results, and we’ve accepted it. As advances in exercise science have been uncovered, we now know that not to be true, yet the word is not spreading quickly. In this article, I’m going to review one new way to build muscle up quickly.
If I had to sum up in one word what will help most people gain muscle mass quickly, it would be “intervals,” no question. Interval-based training is not new, but it is still not widely used, and new advances in interval training are relatively unheard of, which is surprising considering their effectiveness. One of those new advances is Tabata training.
Tabata training is a very intense form of interval training using compound exercises. A compound exercise is one in which muscles are not isolated; rather, the exercise works out many muscle groups along a full range of motion. Tabata is named for its inventor at the National Institute of Fitness and Sport in Tokyo, who stumbled across it during speed skating training.
Tabata training leads to mass gains, increases in strength, increases in power output, improved aerobic conditioning, and a higher anaerobic threshold. All of this means that you are going to get strong and add an explosive element to your strength. It’s no wonder that sports like martial arts, speed skating, and the like have opened their arms to Tabata training.
A typical Tabata session involves 4-minutes sets of compound exercises, broken into 20-second work periods and 10-second rest periods. That is, you perform as many repetitions as possible for 20 seconds, and then rest for 10 seconds, repeating that cycle a total of 8 times. Once your four minutes are up, you rest for a minute and move on to your next exercise. Sounds simple? Try it!
Tabata training can be performed with dumbbells, kettleballs (gaining popularity), barbells, and just your body. A Tabata session might only last 15 to 20 minutes, but be more effective than an hour of body building, and has the added benefit of raising your metabolism for up to 24 hours. And example Tabata workout might include:
- 2 minutes: warm up
- 4 minutes: squat press, combining a squat with an overhead press
- 4 minutes: pushups and pull-ups
- 4 minutes: burpees, combining body weight squats, lunges, pushups, and jumps into one disturbingly difficult exercise
- 2 minutes: cool down
That’s it. Fifteen minutes of exercise that will have your muscles screaming and your lungs begging for air.
If you are going to workout and your goal is to build muscle up quickly, you owe it to yourself to do your homework and pay attention to recent developments in exercise science. A sensible program that includes elements of interval and Tabata-based training will pay off in spades very quickly!