Tabata training has exploded into gyms all around the country over the past couple of years. But what is it? And what are the benefits?
Tabata training is a very simple concept: you train for 20 seconds at the highest intensity possible, then rest for 10 seconds. Repeat 8 times and you’re done! It is a form of high intensity interval training (HIIT) and the benefits are astounding.
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Yep, even training for a short amount of time can assist you with your weight loss goals. After a tabata session, your metabolic rate will be much higher than what it was before you started exercise. This means that you will effectively way more calories for (up to) hours after you finish your workout!
Remember that this is going to help you more if you have done more than one tabata; 3-4 would probably be the minimum.
Because the nature of the workout is explosive bursts of exercise, you will become much stronger when you start training tabata.
Muscles are broadly split into two different categories; slow twitch and fast twitch. Slow twitch muscle fibres mainly use oxygen as a fuel source and are responsible for slower, less intense movements, such as long distance running or swimming.
Fast twitch muscle fibres are generally larger and use other sources for energy (such as creatine phosphate and glycogen). These are the explosive muscles that are mainly used when training tabata.
These muscles are the main type of muscles responsible for strength and power, meaning that training these muscles will make you stronger and more powerful.
Although fast twitch muscle fibres are larger than slow twitch ones, don’t worry about ‘getting big’ if you train these muscles, what is far more likely to happen is that the muscle will have more tone and a better shape, rather than a larger physical size.
Working as hard as you can for double the amount of time that you are resting for is challenging, especially for the cardio-vascular system. Your heart and lungs will be struggling to recover from the massive amount of work, which will eventually lead to an increase in cardio-vascular fitness.
One of the ways that it would do this is by a process called capillarisation. This means that in the muscles that are working the hardest during tabata training will develop more capillaries in them, meaning that more blood flow if able to flow through the working muscles, which makes them more efficient.
This isn’t necessarily for the delivery of oxygen to the working muscle (remember fast twitch muscles do not use oxygen as a fuel source), but for the extraction of all of the waste products that are a result of the anaerobic (without oxygen) work going on within the muscle cells, such as lactic acid and creatine kinase.
There are also a variety of other benefits that come with exercise in general, not just from tabata training, like decreased blood pressure and a decrease in anxiety levels and depression symptoms.
Note: Tabata workouts are HARD and potentially DANGEROUS. Because of the sheer amount of force you have to generate during these workouts they are not recommended to be performed by beginners.
If you are more interested in tabata training why not check out the tabata training articles?