Tabata Workouts Are No Joke

Tabata workouts can and probably should be incorporated into a bodybuilding training plan, especially for the core. It’s not so much a workout in itself but a style of training.

High intensity interval training is not new to the fitness and bodybuilding world, and neither is it to this site. That’s exactly what a Tabata workout brings, a mixture of hiit training, usually aerobics, core, strength training or mobility work combined with intense stretching – with short bursts of rest in between sets.

Usually 20 seconds on and 10 seconds rest if you want to work it hard. If you want to really push it – turn it into a giant set. If you think 40 seconds of work isn’t hard, try that for 40-80 seconds of hard isometric holds, moving from one exercise to another, over 4-6 sets .

Plus you can be finished a brutal workout in 10 minutes.

tabata training workout

You’ll be screaming for the end.

I like to use Tabata style workouts when working the core. As i have long since stepped away from crunches and sit ups after being plaqued by back problems, I need an exercise that is great for toughening up the core and stabilizing the spine.

That’s exactly what shoulder taps provide. I hold them for 20 secs and then rest for 10 seconds before moving on to the next exercise, it could be an isometric plank hold, or a side plank hold for instance, and i would hold this for 20 seconds and take 10 rest.

Prefer to listen?

Here’s what shoulder taps look like, you see lots of boxers and MMA guys do them, but they are getting really popular in gyms everywhere, with PT’s springing them on their clients.

You can use the tabata style of training in just about any weights or aerobic circuit, by applying the timing principle. Or you can do it with traditional tabata style exercises like kettlebell swings, lunges, rowing, sprinting, the horrendous burpee and push-ups.

You can combine it with any series of exercise that offer fast or intense contractions of the muscle fibers for a few seconds, at a high rate of speed. Think isometric planks, plank holds, shoulder taps, modified push-up holds.

Over a few workouts your body adapts to the physical stress by generating extra amounts of cellular energy (also known as free-energy) in order to counter the stress. This extra cellular energy is usually stored in the muscles as additional potential energy. The extra cellular energy is released when the muscles are fully contracted, at full potential, for a short period of time.

Tabata workouts require a high degree of discipline and attention to detail. You need to have the right mindset for such an intense workout. It’s not for everyone. Anyone who is overweight or suffers from chronic back pain, should wait until the condition is stabilized before introducing high intensity interval training. You can start at a lower pace and ramp it up when you feel safe to do so. Choose more of a low intensity approach.

What’s the difference between Tabata & HIIT?

Tabata is like HIIT only more intense. With Tabata you get 10 seconds of rest between sets, on HIIT you continue to workout but drop the intensity level way down. So if your were performing Tabata on an exercise bike your oxygen intake can max out at 170% for up to 20 seconds.

Like HIIT the principle is the same, get more done in less time. Tabata takes even less time than HIIT, but it is way more intense. Keep in mind you need to perform 5-7 sets with this type of training so it could take as much time as a HIIT workout.

BTW if you want to do HIIT with weights pick an exercise machine so you can immediately lower the weight stack during your low intensity periods. Alternatively park beside the dumbbell rack or ez-bar stack if using free weights.

Tabata workouts can be performed as stand-alone bodyweight exercises, using only your legs. Or, they can be performed with another workout such as the rowing machine, elliptical trainer, or treadmill. Some machines, such as the rowing machine, allow you to perform a traditional Tabata style workout without the use of your legs at all.

This is called a mini-Tabata workout. You may even find that you can perform a traditional Tabata style workout while lying down, on your back, with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.

The great thing about interval type training (Tabata style) is that it can be done just about anywhere. If you are at home, you can set up your Tabata workout and perform it at the kitchen table while drinking a cup of coffee.

Train Fast & Relieve The Boredom

These kind of works create a short sharp shock effect on your body and mind. You probably won’t want to do them each time you hit the gym or workout at home, but they can inject new life into long laborious workout plans. You know all about the days where you just show up and tick off each exercise as you get it done.

And just on that note -If you want to reshuffle and reinvigorate your gym routine learn what balance training can do for your core, co-ordination and strength here. A much needed change can certainly refocus your motivation. Now back to more reasons to pursue some tabata…

If you are on the road, no need to get dressed and set up your workout gym as you will simply need to bring along a notebook and pen to jot down your exercise regimen. Then just keep that notebook with you as you go from place to place, and you will never forget your workout plan.

With high intensity workouts, you will rapidly build up both your endurance and your strength levels. The increased cardiovascular efficiency will help you burn more calories and lose weight quickly. Along with the increased muscle mass, you will also begin to feel more energetic and strong during your Tabata routines.

As your muscle cells regenerate, your entire circulatory system will become more efficient, allowing your body to burn more fat. By performing high intensity intervals of Tabata training, your body will become leaner and toned, and your metabolism will even increase, resulting in even more fat burning.

If you want to increase your progress try to vary your breaks between ten and fifteen seconds. This will help you maintain intensity levels throughout your entire routine. Also, try to increase the distance and speed of your intervals; however, keep in mind that there should be enough rest so you perform the routine with good form to avoid any injuries.

So why are fast intense workouts so effective? According to Burgomaster et al 1 short high intense running sessions produces the same effect as low intensity long form cardio sessions. HIIT and steady state exercise both produce the same effects if fat loss is your goal. BUT, HIIT has been shown to induce a higher rate of oxygen intake which elevates your metabolism not only during your training session, but after it as well.

A higher metabolic rate favors a higher degree of fat loss. Both slow paced and fast paced cardio have their merits, but don’t think because you are working out for a long period of time you are doing more.

Whether you are building muscle or doing cardio, the intensity drops the longer you’re workout goes on. You don’t need a pinterest graphic to show you how long you can push yourself into the red before you get negative results. You will feel it. You will experience the effort draining from your muscles and cardiovascular and nervous systems.

You can get as fit or as massive as you can, but you can’t improve your recovery rate. So listen to your body and know how far you can push yourself in the gym without over training and getting damaged due to sloppy form when your body and assistance muscles tire. Most times you can work your maximal all out effort in 1 or 2 sets.

Get in, get the job done and get out. Unless you like going to the gym for therapy.

  • 1 A practical model of low-volume high-intensity interval training induces mitochondrial biogenesis in human skeletal muscle1 Burgomaster et al