If you're looking to ramp up your metabolism, torch a bunch of calories, improve your strength, endurance, and define your muscles, then the Tabata fitness routine may just be the answer to your prayers. Tabata costs nothing, and doesn't require you to consume any expensive, unknown supplements or concoctions. It's quick, best done in the privacy of your own home, and in my experience it really works.
This is all you need - a bedroom floor or any free floor space and a bottle of water. If you have carpet, then you don't even need the mat. If you're not used to exercising regularly, you don't need any weights, your own body weight resistance is enough. I like to do my Tabata in the bedroom because I can check in the mirrors that I'm keeping good form during the exercises.
The only other essential requirement is the Tabata app timer. You can download this from the app store on your phone for free, and once configured, it will tell you when to start your exercise, when to stop and when to resume. There are lots of Tabata timer apps available, I've been using this one from Parabolic River for the longest time. It's free, I can configure it just how I want it, and I love how it gives me an inspirational quote at the start of each workout, and at the end of the workout it tells me how awesome I am!
What is Tabata?
Tabata is a high intensity interval training (HIIT) but with a difference. One exercise is done for 20 seconds followed by a rest of 10 seconds. This protocol is repeated 7 more times, and then you rest for one full minute. That's it - 5 minutes equals one complete Tabata, including rest time. Then you repeat the same protocol performing a different exercise - 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off, a total of 8 times, then 1 minute rest.
Where is Tabata From?
Tabata training was discovered by Japanese scientist Dr. Izumi Tabata to build endurance for the Japanese Olympic speed skating team in the 1990's
How and Why does Tabata Work?
The idea is that you push yourself as hard as you can during the 20 second exercise periods. The 10 second rest interval is not sufficient for your body to recover from the 20 seconds of work, and thus your body's endurance is increased significantly, your metabolism is ramped up, heart rate increased, and muscles worked to exhaustion (depending on your chosen exercises and the level of intensity you are capable of). Your body will continue burning fat for hours afterwards. Studies have shown that Tabata can burn 13.5 to 15 calories per minute, and then continue burning long after your workout is finished.
What Exercises Should I do?
You can perform almost any exercises to Tabata. I have a list of exercises that I use during my workouts, and I rotate them throughout the workouts so I don't get bored with the routine. I have my favorites which I perform during every workout, squats being my number one, a) because it's a great exercise for my tennis game, and b) I usually start with this, because it really gets the blood flowing and warms me up quickly. Here is a list of some commonly used exercises during Tabata: Squats / Jumping Jacks / Jump Rope / Bicep Curls / Mountain Climbers / Russian Twists / Push Ups / Side Skaters / Bell Squats / Leg Lifts / Sit Ups / High Knees / Planks / Lunges / Crunches ... and so the list goes on. If you can do it at home with no equipment, it can be done to Tabata. If you want to advance your exercises, you can add weights and some other inexpensive pieces of equipment.
What's the catch?
There is none. But there are a few cautions to be aware of. If you haven't done any HIIT before , or you're not used to exercise, be very careful when you start out. Let me give you an example. I am physically very fit and exercise regularly. When I first tried Tabata, I could barely make it completely through 3 Tabata rounds, i.e. 15 minutes. The next two to three days I was sore all over. But as soon as your muscles are healed, and you do another workout, you will feel right away how you can achieve more. I currently do 8 or 9 Tabatas in one workout, which is about 40 or 45 minutes. If I'm short on time, I just squeeze in 5 or 6 rounds. Your endurance will build quickly as long as you do this regularly. I recommend 2 to 3 times per week. Also, make sure you are familiar with the exercises you do, so that your form is correct. There is no point bashing out an exercise if you are not doing it correctly. Form is more important then how many repetitions you can do in each 20 second exercise period.
I hope this blog post has been useful for you, and that you will find Tabata to be as awesome as I have. There is plenty more I can write about Tabata, but I think all good things come in small doses. This is just for starters, and I would love to hear from you if you've given this a try... what did you think? Did it make you sore? #justdoit!
Here's to 2017, may it be your fittest year ever!
Karen Serino is a life and style blogger, sharing fashion, fitness and fun for youthful women in their forties, fifties and beyond.
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