Conditioning Tabata

But First, a Review: What's a Tabata?

If you don't already know what a Tabata interval is, it's a high intensity interval training protocol originally created by Japanese researcher Dr. Izumi Tabata.

Each Tabata interval consists of 20 seconds of high intensity (as hard as you can go) exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest. This is repeated for eight rounds, totaling four minutes time.

Four Minutes to Freedom

The obscure reference to the group Sublime notwithstanding, Tabata training is great because it delivers big results in little time. So, if you're short on time and looking to get in and out of the gym quickly, or just looking for some killer workout finishers — Tabatas are a great way to go.

The Tabata method is easy to understand and apply, but take heed, it's NOT easy to do. Put simply, Tabata workouts are brutal! Many folks don't make it through the full four minutes, and others that do often end up puking following the first few workouts.

This is why it's necessary to gradually progress (periodize) your Tabata training. Later, I will provide you with both an 8-week and 12-week progression model designed to help you maximize your Tabata training efforts while avoiding excessive fatigue and overtraining.

That being said, progression or no progression, in order to use the Tabata method successfully, you must be willing to work hard!

Fat Loss vs. Conditioning: It's What You Eat, Fool!

Tabatas are great for both fat loss and improving one's work capacity (conditioning). In truth, there is usually little to no difference between fat loss exercises and metabolic conditioning exercises, both should be very intense in nature and demand a total body effort.

The only thing that separates a conditioning program from a fat loss program is the diet. You most certainly can improve your work capacity (endurance/conditioning) without going on any special calorie or carb restrictive diet. But, in order to lose body fat, some diet adjustments need to be made and strictly adhered to.


Tabata Training — Performance U Style!

Here at Performance U in Baltimore, we pride ourselves on developing new and creative ways of improving human performance. The Tabata workouts below are no exception. As you will see though, I do things a little differently when it comes to Tabata training.

Traditional Tabata protocol would suggest choosing only one exercise, such as squats, and repeating that same exercise throughout the entire Tabata interval. I prefer to use either two different exercises performed four times each, four different exercises performed two times each, or eight different exercises each performed once within a given Tabata workout. I find this strategy achieves better results for several reasons:

• Mixing in more than one exercise boosts the overall metabolic demand because it involves more muscles. Put simply, more muscles worked means greater energy demand, which in turn means faster fat loss.

• Doing the same exercise eight times for four minutes straight is monotonous and just plain boring. The beauty of the Tabata paradigm is that it allows us to do anything we want in those four minutes as long as the intensity is high. With that type of freedom, I'd like to think of myself as being a little more creative than simply using squats, squats, and more squats!



When to Use Tabatas

How and when you use Tabata protocols is largely determined by your training goal.

For Fat Loss — You can use Tabatas up to three times per week. I have used up to three different Tabata intervals per fat loss workout. When training to lose body fat, I always use them after strength training. Doing so will ensure that you have the energy to dedicate to keeping your current level of muscle size and strength while strength training before moving on to your Tabata fat loss training.

For Improved Conditioning — You can use Tabatas throughout your workout, either before, during, or after your strength training. I know this breaks the rules, but sports (and real life) tend to break the rules anyway, so why can't we during training?

During most sports (football, MMA, etc.) you're often required to call upon every ounce of strength you have and explode throughout the entire competition, even when you're tired. So, mixing conditioning and strength work together can help prepare you specifically for this challenge.

This is especially important for MMA fighters and other combat athletes because you have to lift up, take down, and push your opponent around the entire fight, no matter how "gassed" you may be.


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