Tabata – what’s it all about?

spinTabata intervals are being incorporated into fitness workouts around the world and everyone’s talking about them.  However, is Tabata the magic solution for losing weight and getting fit?

For those of you who haven’t experienced a Tabata interval training program, it’s a four-minute interval workout consisting of 8 sets of alternating 20 seconds of high intensity exercise, followed by a 10-second recovery.  During the 20 seconds, you should be prepared to get out of your comfort zone and go flat out.  At the end of the four minutes, you should be dripping with sweat, exhausted and feel that you have nothing left in you.

Any exercise can incorporate Tabata intervals, and your spin instructors and bootcamp trainers will often sneak these into a regular work-out to challenge you.  You can also use it at home (try jumping jacks) or out on your run.

The Tabata concept (named after the lead scientist who discovered it) was developed in Japan in a study which compared the effects of moderate-intensity training with high intensity interval training.  The conclusion was that less is more.  Short, high intensity training was more effective at improving both aerobic and anaerobic fitness (most workouts target one or the other, not both) than longer moderate-intensity work-outs .. so in a nutshell, you burn more calories, improve your performance and improve your fitness.  Sounds great!  Where do I sign up?

Because of the high intensity, Tabata work-outs are shorter (for example, some gyms offer 30-minute Tabata spin classes instead of the usual hour), so easier to fit into a busy schedule.  No time for a two hour run?  However, you can spare a half hour for a quick Tabata workout before breakfast.   If done correctly, your workout is just as effective as a longer workout, and you burn more calories!

Sound too good to be true?

There are no magic solutions for weight loss, as your diet and lifestyle will still impact your results.

Also, a word of caution – Tabata is not for beginners!  If you’re just getting into exercise, you need to work up to it.  Just bear in mind that the Tabata study was carried out on elite athletes and Tabata was designed to improve the performance of Olympic athletes who were comfortable working out at 170% of max (maximum aerobic capacity).  If you are not used to going flat out, it can be uncomfortable getting your heart rate up so high.  Tabata workouts are meant to be incredibly intense.

Still want to try it?  If you’re feeling brave and want to take your workout and fitness level to the next level, check it out.

Livefit Studio at the Pinnacle Hotel, North Vancouver, offers Tabata Spin classes – check their website for more information.

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