Ever heard of Tabata? A lot of people haven’t but it is a fitness craze that is sweeping the country
and is starting to catch on throughout the world.
It is named after Izumi Tabata, phd. a former researcher at Japan’s National Institute of Fitness and
Sports in Kanoya. It is an interval routine that was developed by the coach of the Japanese speed-
skating team to give his team an edge in competition.
It has evolved slightly and there are now many so called ‘experts’ out there, many of them are trying
to claim the idea as their own, and because they have changed it so it is 20% different to the original
idea, they are confusing people and they end up not using it to its maximum capability.
So what is it? What is an ‘interval routine’?
It is a workout based on short sharp bursts of energy, for example the speed skaters coach had his team members sprint six to seven 20-second full speed sprints, interspersed with rest periods of only 10 seconds. The guys who used this routine five days a week for six weeks increased their maximum aerobic capacity by 14%. The word ‘aerobic’ means the body’s ability to consume oxygen, meaning the more you can train your body to take in, the fitter you will become.
Also it improved their anaerobic capacity, this means they were able to exercise full out for longer
periods of time, this amazingly improved by an astonishing 28%!
So what can you do?
How many of you are trying to keep fit and keep the weight off by going for a leisurely jog once or
twice a week? If I could see you all, I know a lot of you would be nodding or putting your hand up.
Well how about this.. instead of running around the neighbourhood for an hour and putting an immense
amount of strain on your joints, try this.. go stand in the back yard and warm up, stretch, do gentle
lunges and do some restrained squats, once your muscles feel warm, stand with your feet shoulder width apart and pump your arms furiously as though you were really sprinting. Do this for 20 seconds and then rest for no more than 15, then repeat, do this initially only twice and as your ability to do this
without collapsing increases, then do it 6 times per workout. This is ‘Tabata’.
What is different or good about this type of workout?
The key seems to be in the rest periods themselves, in conventional exercise it is recommended that the rest period should last at least three times as long as the exercise itself, but in Tabata the ratio
changes so that the exercise lasts twice as long as the rest period.
But a word of caution, this exercise routine was originally developed for Olympic athletes and it is
reported that even they struggle to complete a ‘full-set’ of a tabata routines.
So, take it easy and start light, you don’t just have to ‘sprint on the spot’, try star-jumps or hopping
on the spot, as long as you do it aggressively for short periods of time but for longer than the rest
periods, then it will have the same effect.
It may just save your joints from disintergrating later in life!
As always though, check with your Doctor before starting any new exercise or diet regime.
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