Sunday, October 6, 2019

5 Reasons You Should Tabata

I was first introduced to Tabata many years ago during a computrainer class. I was pumping away on my mom bike, trying to keep up with the triathletes on their fancy bikes, when a strange image projected on the screen. "Tabata", my friend Sandy said, in an ominous tone. What the what?

Twenty seconds all out, 10 seconds rest. Repeat for a total of 8. With that, I learned to love and hate Tabata. There have been many Tabata workouts since. Do you Tabata? Should you? What will Tabata do for you?



This past week, the weather was dreary, drizzly, and cold. While I'm no wimp when it comes to running in the rain, thanks to rheumatoid arthritis, my hands do not like it at all. Funny thing, since they aren't doing any work! Anyhoo, I took one of my runs to the treadmill, but instead of steady-state running which is so boring, I tried a treadmill workout that I found on YouTube. The hour-long workout had hills, sprints, and Tabata. I put up the white towel of surrender halfway through the video. As if Tabata alone wasn't enough.

Cocoa consoling me after that Tabata sequence on the treadmill
Tabata also showed up the next day at bootcamp. What were the chances? But I actually do like Tabata, so I was excited about it. The workout was comprised of kettlebell swings, wall balls, situps, push-ups, and lunges with a one-minute rest between movements. Because each Tabata is 4 minutes long, we did 20 minutes of work. I don't have to tell you how hard this was or how sore I was the next day. Talk about getting the most bang for your buck!

top-->bottom: KB swings, Wall Balls, Sit-Ups, Push-Ups, Lunges

So what is Tabata? 
  • Tabata is an advanced HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workout. Tabata originated in Japan by Dr Izunmi Tabata in the 1990s to train Olympic speed skaters. With Tabata, you work all out for 20 seconds and rest for 10 seconds x 8 cycles (4 minutes). If you're doing it right, you have to rest at the end of the cycle! Ideally, a Tabata workout lasts for 20 minutes. You can do just about any moves for a Tabata workout. 
Why should you Tabata? 
  • Burns Fat: Current research supports short, intense bursts of exercise as a better way to burn fat by increasing your anaerobic capacity. Plus you continue to burn calories long after the workout is done!
  • Saves time: A Tabata workout lasts no more than 20 minutes. Everyone can set aside 20 minutes to do a Tabata workout! 
  • Increases aerobic capacity: Basically, this means that Tabata can help improve endurance as well as oxygenation.
  • Preserves muscle tissue: the workout is short and sweet, so you won't be using muscle tissue for fuel. There is some thought that because Tabata is so intense, you actually build muscle during the workout. 
  • It's fun! I like pushing myself and knowing that each interval is 20 seconds long allows me to go all out. It's such an empowering feeling!
How do you do Tabata?
  • You can download a Tabata timer from the App Store or the Google play store. There are a number of apps available. Find one that you like. 
  • Pick 5 exercises that you want to do. The sky is the limit. The workout we did at bootcamp is just one example. You can also do Tabata on a stationary bike, treadmill, rower, or any other piece of equipment. 
  • Be prepared to sweat. Grab a towel and some water!

Do you Tabata? What exercises have you done? How was your week? Are you moving your workouts indoors?


Tabata is a fat burning, time saving, all around good time workout! Do you Tabata? /via @oldrunningmom #runchat #running #tabata #crosstraining

I'm linking up with Kim and Deborah for the Weekly Roundup.

43 comments :

  1. Tabatas are great workouts! I haven't done one in ages, but I do like doing them on the treadmill much better than a steady-state run.

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  2. Though I have not done any true Tabata workouts (not intentionally anyways), when I'm on the mill I have to do some sort of intense interval series or I go absolutely bonkers. That's what got me through all those treadmill runs last winter. Little did I know, at the time, how beneficial they would serve me over the summer. Hoping this winter is a little kinder to us...

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    1. Intervals are definitely a great way to break up the monotony on the TM. Pretty sure that you didn't 'accidently' do Tabatas, though! They are precisely timed intervals!

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  3. I did bootcamp for a while a couple years ago and we Tabata'd all the time! it's intense!

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  4. We've done it at running club and I really like it - it appeals to my tenacity / bloodymindedness and I'll keep going where faster, fitter people fade. Which is fun when it happens.

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    1. Exactly!!! I can't quit on it. None of us did, but after the class we were all laying on the ground! LOL

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  5. Quite some time ago I reviewed a book on Tabata. I do like it, although I actually now subscribe to the idea that a lot of HIIT is better for younger people -- although anyone can do it, I think as we age, we need to limit more of the high intensity stuff and pay closer attention to recovery.

    That said, I certainly hope I get some ST in next week, although between fasting for Yom Kippur & driving my mom around again . . . no great expectations.

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    1. One of the appealing aspects of HIIT and Tabata, for this older athlete, is the shortness of the workout. Research supports this; there is thought that short, intense bursts of activity can improve mitochondrial function, which basically slows the aging process.

      I'll stick with it!

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  6. I can't even tell you the number of "Tabata" workouts that I've seen that are like the treadmill workout you tried, an hour long and with all kinds of extra stuff thrown in. My favorite tabata workout is a true 20 seconds on/10 seconds off/20 minutes total body weight workout. I only do it when I travel but I love it b/c it's so fast and my body feels it in the best way.

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    1. I love that Tabata can be useful in all kinds of workouts! I had never done it on the TM, but I'm going to do more of it over the winter!

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  7. I've mostly done tabata workouts in spin class -- they are fast & furious!

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  8. I love tabata workouts! I can't wait to do them more often again after the marathon is over. It's such a great way to get in an intense workout, especially if you're short on time!

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  9. We do Tabata drills on the Peloton bike they are tough. I should add some back into my strength training workouts as well

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  10. Thanks for the info - I did not know what Tabata is! I guess I haven't really done any of those before. I will need to give it a try!

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  11. Great post! Lots of useful information. Tabatas sound like a great way to break up the treadmill monotony :)

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  12. Cocoa is so cute. Reminds me I need to pitch Deborah and Kim on a dog guest post edition of the run down.
    I haven't tried tabata, it sounds interesting and wonderfully hard though

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    1. I can only imagine Cocoa's weekly recap. Lots of sniffing and chasing the ball! Oh, and barking at the nieghbors.

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  13. I've never really been into Tabata workouts but it seems like they are so effective! Might need to try something like this once i am back to being stuck on the treadmill in a few months!

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    1. I'm not into Tabata either, but as it turns out, it's a great way to pass the time on the TM!

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  14. Oh I love tabata and have for years! I used to teach a class using that technique and it killed every time. It also keeps the workout interesting and moving - you don't have a lot of time to think about how awful it is because before you know it, you have to MOVE! My strength trainer uses it all the time too. I have PTSD from the horn on the app!!!

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    1. Oh, the horn! Luckily at CF, the instructor calls the time. Twenty seconds never felt so long!

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  15. I actually used to teach Tabata! It’s fun but so hard. It’s been a while...

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  16. I've done Tabata once and it was one of the HARDEST 20 minutes of my life!! I don't think I could do it on my own as I would definitely cheat, I would need an instructor shouting throughout the class to keep me on track!

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    1. I prefer to call it 'scaling the workout' instead of cheating! Doesn't that sound so much more acceptable? :p

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  17. I've heard the term but never really knew what it was. Thanks for the explanation! This sounds like a tough but efficient workout. I'll have to see if I can find some videos or something on You Tube.

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  18. Tabata sounds interesting! I am going to give it a try. Maybe after may marathon at the end of October. I had never heard if ti before you wrote about it, but now I have bookmarked some websites and am excited ti give it a try!

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    1. I'm all about efficiency and Tabata gives you a lot of goodness in a short period of time!

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  19. I've been wanting to try out Tabata. I figure I can do anything for 20 seconds, right?
    Btw, I read your blog pretty regularly but when I try to leave a comment on my phone it never lets me. So know that I'm reading but not always commenting. :-)

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    1. Don't feel bad. I can't comment on my own blog on my phone either!

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  20. I'm a huge fan of anything with intervals. I like changing things up and trying new combinations of things, so tabata will always be a favorite.

    Most importantly, Cocoa on the treadmill with you is flat out perfection.

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    1. She's right there with me, the whole time. Putting her ball on the belt and chasing it when it shoots off the back.

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  21. I don't believe I've tried it because I would definitely remember, right? But now that I think about it, years ago I took some CrossFit classes so maybe I did there? Anyway, definitely something different to do to spice up a workout. :-)

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    1. I'm sure you can find some Tabata workout videos on YouTube!

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  22. Oh, thanks for the tip on the tabata timer! That will make timing so much easier.

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