Tabata Interval Training Protocol

If you’ve been trained with us at the Mt. Baker indoor location, you’ve already experienced us working shorter intervals in sets of eight. For example, the brutal 20 second shoulder press/squat explosions paired with 10 seconds of “resting” plank with partner high-fives and going for 8 sets without break. What we were up to is inspired by new information about Tabata interval training.

Taba… what now?

We’ve always used interval training in camp, what’s referred to as H.I.I.T.S., or high intensity interval training. Intervals between aerobic and muscle building exercises are the best way to get a balanced workout for the entire body. Tabata is a step up from H.I.I.T.S. with a more specific protocol of intervals developed to maximize both aerobic and anaerobic benefits. Tabata is 20 seconds of intense cardio, 10 seconds of resting anaerobic exercise, like weights, pushups or plank repeated 8 times.

Tabata training was developed by Japanese doctor Izumi Tabata at the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo, Japan. A study was conducted to compare the results of sustained aerobic activity versus Dr. Tabata’s high intensity interval training. The findings were obviously in favor of the Tabata training. After 6 weeks of working out 5 days a week, the aerobic training group showed a 10% increase in VO2 max (the highest rate of oxygen consumption attainable during exercise), which means that the participants were 10% less winded, but they had no increase in anaerobic capacity (strength). The interval group showed 14% increase in their VO2 max and a huge 28% increase in anaerobic capacity.

So! What does this mean for us?

Most of us don’t know our VO2 level, or really care. We just want to feel great, have lots of energy and maybe lose a few pounds. So what’s Tabata going to do for us? Basically, we’re going to burn fat more efficiently. High intensity interval training speeds up the metabolic rate by rebuilding lean muscle which will burn way more calories up to 3 days after your workout is over.

Recently, a study was done at the Physical Activities Sciences Laboratory at Laval University in Quebec, Canada which questioned the long trusted idea that lower intensity workouts for longer amounts of time are the best way to burn fat. They compared the impact of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise and high-intensity intervals on fat loss.
The results showed that during the workout, the low intensity aerobics did indeed burn about twice as many calories. However, because Tabata interval group built more muscle tissue, they were still burning more calories throughout the day long after the workout was finished and in the end, burned 9 times as much fat.

Let’s not forget that 28% increase in anaerobic activity. With high H.I.I.T.s and Tabata intervals, we don’t have to choose between a “cardio day” and a “weights day”. Doing intervals, we’re building fast and slow twitch muscle fibers simultaneously, which means strength, muscle definition and support for your daily life.
All this in a 4 minute workout? Sound good? We think so too, but don’t think it’s going to be easy. Tabata makes for a very difficult four minutes and ideally you want to reach your limit to get all the body’s systems fired up to run all day. To make sure you are getting the maximum results from Tabata, it’s important to stick to the times as closely as possible. Try not to lose any time getting into position or resting during the exercise intervals, it’s only four minutes and it’s up to you to do the exercise correctly. It’s going to burn, but we wouldn’t suggest you do anything we aren’t completely confident you are capable of. :) What we’re all aiming for is the healthiest and happiest versions of ourselves, which you have every right to be!

If it’s sounding intense, don’t worry. We’re not going to change the lineup too much, and you’re not enrolled in Dr. Tabata’s Booty Camp, but you will certainly see more interval training in the weeks to come.

I encourage you to heighten your awareness of what’s happening inside your body these next few weeks. Take note on days that we do interval training. Do you have more energy? Are you sleeping well? Have you noticed the effects of exercise on your emotional well being? Whether you are a long-term camper or just starting out, the adjustments in the workout will give you the opportunity to make the most of the changes.

Great work, see you tomorrow!

-Trainer Ellen