What’s trendy, short and promises to change your life? It’s not a lottery ticket or a new pair of trainers. It’s Tabata training. Here’s how to get the most effective Tabata workout you can.
First, what is it? According to the IDEA Health & Fitness Association, Tabata is a type of HIIT fitness, that involves 20 seconds of high intensity exercise with 10 seconds of rest for eight intervals, for a total of four minutes. It’s named after Dr. Izumi Tabata who trained Japanese Olympic athletes this way to improve their aerobic and anaerobic systems.
Nowadays, though, Tabata-inspired workouts are popping up in fitness classes and on workout apps. They’re good for workout efficiency and for boosting the benefits of working out.
If you’ve yet to try this program or are looking to switch things up in your regular routine, check out our 10 tips for Tabata workouts.
1. Try Different Moves
Traditionally Tabata is used with a stationary bike or treadmill. But you’re not stuck with this equipment. The American Council on Exercise reports that Tabata can be done with strength training equipment (such as barbells for deadlifts) or even just your own body weight (burpees). You can also try suicide sprints, jumping jacks, plyometric jumps, and others.
2. Get an App for That
You don’t have time to fuss with setting and restarting a timer, so download an app that will countdown the intervals and sound off an alarm for you. Try the Tabata Timer, available on iTunes. You can customize the tones, display and music to your liking.
3. Warm Up
Tabatas by nature are intense. So make sure you’re warmed up. Try this Tabata warm-up from GQ. It’s a dynamic warm-up that stretches and heats up muscles, with moves like Samson stretches, inch worms, high knees and more.
4. Be realistic About Your Fitness Level
If you’re a newbie to working out or you’re a gym junkie, set an intensity level and choose an exercise that is appropriate for you. If you are just starting to work out, or you have a health concern such as high blood pressure or diabetes, Tabatas might not be for you, recommends the Globe & Mail.
5. Know Shead of Time How Tabata will be Used in Your Workout
Tabata is trendy right now, and you’ll see Tabatas used in different ways for some workouts. Beachbody, for example will use the Tabata timing four-minute set more than once in a workout. That means you might not go as all out as you would if you’re only doing one four-minute set.
6. Keep It Simple
Try just one round for your first time. One bout of Tabata should be enough, says active.com. You’re meant to be working hard, even if it’s just one four-minute round.
7. Mix Up the Exercises
Once you get used to this way of training, you can create a workout that focuses on your entire body or certain body parts. Pick four moves, 20 seconds each set, that are easy to transition between, suggests Muscle & Fitness. With 10 seconds of rest between, after you finish the four, you do it all over again. Get a spotter if you need help with the weight.
8. Watch Your Form
Just because you’re going as fast as you can with the moves doesn’t mean form goes to the wayside. If you aim for more reps without proper form, you’ll miss out on the benefits you get from Tabata training, says tabataworkouts.com. So pick a move you’re very familiar with and comfortable enough to do for speed.
9. Don’t Beat Yourself Up If You can’t Finish the Four Minutes
Sure, the Tabata workout is a short one. But don’t underestimate how intense of a workout it is. If you are doing Tabata correctly, reports Muscle & Fitness, it should be unlikely that you even finish before exhaustions set in. Other workouts, like stated above, that include more than one full Tabata workout as part of another workout are merely Tabata-inspired. Actually, the harder you work the better your workout will be.
10. Don’t Compare Yourself to Other People
Everyone’s maximum effort will be different – and the more in shape you are, the harder you have to work to reach exhaustion with that four minutes, jessicasmithtv.com suggests. So don’t worry about what your workout partner is doing or how the rest of the class measures up. Only you know how hard you have to work to do Tabatas properly. Just don’t shortchange yourself.