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What is the Tabata Training Method?

Beautiful young woman doing push-ups at homeThe Tabata Method, or perhaps more widely known through celebrities and the media as ‘The 4 minute fat burning miracle workout’, is based on High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), rather than the more commonly used endurance training often associated with going to the gym.

Where does the Tabata Method come from?

Tabata is named after Professor Izumi Tabata who carried out a training study on his Olympic team in 1996. He decided to split his Olympic speed skater team into two and train them differently to see which reaped the greater training benefit.

One group trained at what’s called a ‘Steady state’ – 70% VO2max (70% of the maximum capacity to transport oxygen round the body whilst exercising), the other group trained by using 20 seconds of ultra-intense exercise (at an intensity of about 170% of VO2max) followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated continuously for 4 minutes (8 cycles).

The results?

The ‘steady state’ group achieved a higher VO2max on completion, but the Tabata group who had started lower, gained more overall. In addition only the Tabata group had gained anaerobic capacity benefits – meaning being able to live without air for a period of time.
OK, so I know most of us aren’t Olympians and therefore you probably just want to know what this actually means in layman’s terms for you. Am I right?

Well it was originally thought that endurance based exercise workouts were the most beneficial for burning fat, as it was popularly believed that fatty acid utilisation usually occurs after at least 30 minutes of training.

However Tabata (or HIIT) has been shown to burn fat more effectively and significantly lower insulin resistance which overall proves to be more beneficial than endurance based training.

But as you’ve already heard to do ‘Tabata’ in the truest sense of the word is to train at 170% VO2max. For many of us this would be near impossible to maintain.

So the Tabata Method training is designed similarly where it lasts 4 minutes and within those 4 minutes you work through 8 intervals each lasting for 20 seconds, but done at your absolute optimum rather than that of an Olympian.

Is it for everyone?

In theory yes. But that’s assuming you already exercise regularly and therefore have a good fitness base since the workouts are aimed at working as hard as you can within the time period set.

However so that this method of training is available for everyone, the team at TabataLive have devised classes so they are suitable for all fitness levels. We simply advise members to tone down the intensity if they are new to exercise or haven’t trained for a while. Although this is not the Tabata training protocol it is essential not to go all out until fitness levels increase and personal recovery times improve.

So if you want a change to your normal fitness program, sign up to our free online classes and start feeling the benefits of this proven training method.

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