Over the past few years one of the buzzwords in fitness has been Tabata training. Tabata training has been around since a 1996 study by Dr. Izumi Tabata analyzed the effectiveness of a high-intensity exercise regimen created by Japanese Olympic speed-skating coach Irisawa Koichi.
The workout is built on a 20/10 ratio of work to rest — 20 seconds of hard work and 10 seconds of rest. The 4-minute drill consists of eight cycles.
The work intervals, originally done on a cycle ergometer, are supposed to be extremely intense. There is a high metabolic demand when the Tabata protocol is done correctly. Both anaerobic and aerobic systems are challenged and the result can be a high increase in VO2 max, which means you process oxygen more effectively.
Fitness classes across the country intersperse Tabata drills to make workouts more challenging. Any exercise that leaves you breathless — burpees, high jumps in place or squat jumps, for instance — work well as Tabata drills, as long as you go all out.
There are Tabata boot camps and all kinds of Tabata classes and certifications available in every type of fitness from bikes to water and, of course, on land. All are loosely watered-down versions of the real deal, but still effective and fun to stick into a fitness class.
If you want to start a Tabata drill of your own, try starting with jumping jacks. You will need a stopwatch or a clock to time the segments — 20 seconds of jacks then 10 seconds of rest. Repeat for eight cycles and you have done a beginner Tabata drill. Remember it is OK to stick to your level and go at your own pace. Modification is acceptable and encouraged. Four minutes doesn’t last that long, right?