Tabata protocol an effective training method - Press-Republican: Columns

Tabata protocol an effective training method

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Posted: Tuesday, May 7, 2013 3:26 am

The exercise world is constantly evolving with new ways to get fit. Most of these workouts focus on both aerobic and anaerobic activity. 

Aerobic conditioning serves low- to moderate-intensity activity, while anaerobic conditioning improves maximally intensive activity. High-intensity interval training, also known as HIIT, is a great way to work both of these systems, as well as burn calories. The Tabata protocol is a very effective type of high-intensity interval training.


Dr. Izumi Tabata of the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo conducted research on interval training. The six-week study consisted of one group exercising at moderate-intensity endurance training, while another group performed high-intensity intermittent training. Each group exercised five days at a specific intensity. The moderate-intensity group worked at 70 percent maximal aerobic capacity for 60 minutes. The high-intensity group performed eight intervals of 20 seconds activity/10 seconds rest. These individuals functioned at about 170 percent maximal aerobic capacity.


At the conclusion of the study, both groups increased in maximal oxygen uptake. However, it was the high-intensity group that experienced significant increases in anaerobic capacity.

Increases in anaerobic threshold — the level of exercise intensity at which lactic acid builds up in the body faster than it can be cleared away — allow the individual to perform at even higher intensity. This group also improved in aerobic capacity by about 14 percent. The data showed that the interval-training group made gains in both aerobic and anaerobic systems.


It is fairly simple to design a Tabata-based workout. Pick an exercise, such as sprints, and perform eight rounds of 20 seconds activity/10 seconds rest. This will take a total of four minutes. Repeat this format with different exercises for a full-body workout. 

For example, a program could consist of squats, sprints, push-ups, crunches and jumping jacks all rolled into the Tabata format. This workout consisting of five exercises would take around 20 minutes (not including warm-up and cool down). Programs like these will encourage fat burn and increase strength, as well as build cardiovascular fitness.


Certain types of exercise are not for everyone. The Tabata protocol involves exercise at high levels of intensity. This type of training should be performed by experienced or advanced exercisers. If one experiences dizziness or shortness of breath, then this is likely a sign that they are overdoing it. Before people attempt the Tabata interval program, it is beneficial to acquire a base of aerobic fitness. If a person is significantly deconditioned, Tabata is not for them. 


Due to the high intensity of this type of exercise, the Tabata-based workout should be done only two to three times per week. It should never be performed on consecutive days. The body needs a chance to recover after highly intensive activity. It is also important to know that proper form should be maintained during this program. High-intensity interval training frequently works people to fatigue, and this is when injuries can occur. If you notice that you are compromising form, take a rest, or modify the exercise. Always focus on quality over quantity. Also, do not neglect a proper warm-up and cool down.

The benefits of Tabata training are numerous, as long as it is done correctly and safely. It is both efficient and effective in burning calories and increasing anaerobic and aerobic capacities. Mix things up by trying different exercises, such as jump squats, burpees, abdominal exercises, pushups, etc. The Tabata protocol is a great way to build fitness in less time.

John Vasile, NSCA, holds a bachelor’s degree and is a certified personal trainer at the Wellness Center at PARC, located at 295 New York Road (next to ARC) in Plattsburgh. For more information, call him at 324-2024.



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