Four minutes of hell is all you need to lose weight, really quickly.
DISCLAMER: The Tabata Method is a highly intense training protocol that should only be utilized if you are in good, to very good, physical condition and completely healthy. Before reading on, I would recommend you check with your primary care physician that you are physically healthy enough to embark on such a routine.
Oh, the excitement generated when people hear the words listed above. The Tabata Method has really gained a ton of popularity recently due to the CrossFit folks pasting it all over the internet, and the internet “guru’s” calling it a great way to lose fat by only training for 4 minutes. I’m going to go through the skinny on this method and show you how we use it here, but please don’t go nuts with this, it’s hard. REALLY HARD. So hard that we don’t use it, as it’s designed, that often.
The Tabata Method was designed by Dr. Izumi Tabata, a Japanese sport scientist working with highly qualified athletes. The purpose was to find a training protocol to increase both aerobic capacity (VO2 Max) and anaerobic power. The goal is to perform as many reps as possible in 20 seconds, take a 10 second break, and repeat for 8 rounds. This training style caught on with the “mainstream” fitness community training for body composition and physique transformation.
The resulting 4 minutes of work are a killer. So much that if you are using big exercises I wouldn’t recommend doing this every week, let alone every day. It should be heavy enough that you are struggling at the end, but not too heavy that your technique falls apart. If you choose to use this in your training, I would highly recommend hitting up workoutmuse.com to download a preset Tabata training mp3 files. This way you just have to listen to the timing, so you can’t screw it up. I’ll be honest, if you need something to get you hype to get through the workout, this isn’t going to do it for you, but it will keep you on task/on time which is the goal right?
If the goal is to use this as both a conditioning tool, and to get stronger, I would recommend big exercises. The two most commonly used are front squats and thrusters. We here at OneResult have gone over front squats, so check out how to do them and make sure you’re spot on technically before even giving this method a thought. The strongest people get punished at 95 pounds on a front squat with this, so definitely start lighter than heavier. You will be sore to the point of wanting to put a hit out on me, so don’t be dumb. Thrusters are a squat to a push press that can be done with either dumbbells or a barbell. For the Tabata Method, I’d probably use dumbbells. For those of you who are strong and in very good shape start with 25 pound dumbbells, and for the rest of you, adjust accordingly from there. Again, please, go lighter than heavier to start.
Tabata is also used for general total body conditioning, which isn’t how the protocol was developed, but is how many people are now using it. Our two favorite ways are with battling ropes and sledge hammer slams. Again, we’re trying to go as fast as possible for each set, so take a look at the videos to get a sense of pace if you want to burn fat and improve your athletic performance through HIIT.
Some other ways people use it (but I haven’t) include: Aerodyne bike, Sprints on a treadmill, Rower (concept 2), Burpees, and med ball throws. For all of these I wouldn’t recommend going more than twice a week (if using the conditioning exercises, not the big exercises) and if you do use the big exercises, you probably won’t want to do it more than once a week. In fact, you’ll probably want to cut it back to once every other week at most.
Enjoy the pain and training benefits of this highly intense method, but make sure you’re ready to burn fat and endure the challenge before you dive into it. You’ve been warned.
To maximize your results using the Tabata Methods 1R would recommend the following supplements: