Tabata is actually the name of a workout that combines intervals with high intensity training. The concept was named after Izumi Tabata from the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Japan. The concept is becoming quite popular in the United States. The quick yet challenging workout is appealing to those interested in something new as well as those who really want to take their fitness skills to a new level.
According to Fitness magazine after only 6 weeks of tabata training athletes increased their V02 max by 14%! Your V02 max is the amount of oxygen you use during a workout. It is often used to determine your actual aerobic fitness, one factor in determining your over all fitness level. The magazine also claims that you can lose 53 calories in just one four-minute circuit. Now that is worth exploring!
The way to do a tabata workout is to do 20 seconds of high intensity training and then rest for 10 seconds. Repeat this sequence 7 more times for a total of 8 sets that equal 4 intense minutes. Sounds easy enough until you try it for yourself! An example of a workout may be sprinting for 20 seconds with all your might, rest for 10 seconds, do again, and again until you reach 4 minutes. You can also use weights, kettle balls, your own body weight, or any exercise you already do. You just have to change it to the tabata formula of 20 seconds of giving it all you can, 10 seconds or rest and do it over for 4 minutes.
Now, I would not suggest this routine for anyone. Nor would I suggest you do follow it all of the time. As a personal trainer I was taught that for you to attain successful fitness levels in numerous areas including strength, balance, flexibility, aerobic as well as anaerobic fitness, and body fat you have to do multiple types of exercises that include both aerobic as well as strength training routines. You also have to vary the following: frequency, intensity, type, time (length of time under tension such as with lifting a weight), and resistance (amount of weight). The acronym for this to help you remember is fittr, and think get fitter. All you are really doing is changing the exercises, the amount of weight, the number of sets, and things of that nature. It actually makes working out more fun as well as more challenging. You can choose change it every workout or you can vary things every week or you can design 6 week programs or whatever works for you that keeps you moving.
Tabata routines can be a part of what you do as well because it will definitely challenge you, burn fat and calories, and increase your aerobic capacity. Just be safe, have fun, and mix it up, and keep moving because it means you are alive!