Harness the energy of 4-minute Tabata workout intervals to burn fat, increase aerobic power, and creatively end every strength workout!
In our quest to become lean and physically attractive, we often resort to functional training. If you’ve been wondering how to accelerate fat breakdown and maximize results in the shortest amount of time, chances are you are already alternating high-intensity cardio with short recovery periods.
This technique is known as high-intensity interval training (HIIT). For those of you who want to get to the very top, we recommend trying a specific variant of HIIT – Protocol Tabata.
The Tabata Protocol turns on the full power of anaerobic and aerobic fat burning mechanisms in a crazy workout that lasts a matter of minutes. This is a furious session in which you work to your limit for 20 seconds and then rest for 10 seconds. And so 4 minutes.
But … just four minutes of real workout? Can the Tabata Protocol seriously claim to be the Holy Grail for people who strive for maximum results in a minimum of time? Let’s take a closer look at this protocol and see how we can leverage its strengths.
4 minute miracle?
The Tabata Protocol is a system that became very popular after the publication of a study by Japanese sports physician Izumi Tabata in the mid-90s. He studied the training of Olympic speed skaters and came to the following conclusions. Twenty seconds of super-intense pedaling on the ergometer followed by 10 seconds of rest for 4 minutes leads to a rapid increase in aerobic and anaerobic capacity without any negative effect on muscle mass.
Compared to monotonous cardio training, the Tabata Protocol was the clear winner, although its effect on fat burning was not proven in the original study. The influence on the development of endurance and the reserve of working capacity was also not taken into account.
With a warm-up and a cool-down, the classic protocol takes 16 minutes. For anyone with a persistent aversion to long-term cardio workouts, Tabata training provides a reliable and proven way to get through an aerobic session quickly, just don’t mistake speed for lightness! With the rapid build-up of lactic acid and the total lack of air, this 4-minute program will exhaust you in a way that many other cardio workouts cannot do.
Losing weight without losing muscle mass
Of course, both Tabata and circuit training are based on the same principles of alternating high and low intensity intervals, but only the Tabata Protocol has positive properties proven in the course of the experiment. However, longer high-intensity training sessions have one major advantage over Tabata training, which is the dramatic increase in oxygen consumption for 24 hours after training.
While this may not seem like a big deal to you, high-intensity training will dramatically increase your overall calorie expenditure. This is due to increased metabolism after training, and, unlike monotonous aerobic sessions, this effect persists for the next 24 hours.
Both the Tabata Protocol and HIIT provide a tremendous advantage to people who want to maintain muscle mass. Unlike traditional constant-pace cardio sessions, high-intensity intervals help you gain and maintain muscle mass. This is explained by the fact that rapidly twitching muscle fibers – the most prone to growth – are more efficiently worked out by training of this type.
Tabata cardio protocol
Mastering the Tabata Protocol should be straightforward:
- Start with a 10-minute warm-up at a steady pace
- Work at a crazy pace for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds
- Repeat the 20/10 cycle eight times (total 4 minutes)
- Finish your workout with a 2-minute cool-down
- Return to the program 3-5 times a week
- Choose cardio equipment that can quickly change the degree of resistance
- Over time, your body will adapt to one type of load, so change exercise equipment as often as possible to continue to burn maximum calories.
- For the most efficient fat burning, switch to the Tabata Protocol after strength training when your muscles have used up their carb stores.
- Beginners can turn on more slowly and not train to the limit of human capabilities in all 8 rounds
Using Tabata Principles in Strength Training
I am ready for the fact that every follower of the principles of Tabata will attack me with criticism: how can the Protocol be adapted to training for which it was never intended! I know this is at least a yellow card, but the very spirit of Tabata gives rise to the final chords that will help to detonate the target muscle group at the end of the workout.
“Tabata-style” trains the heart and lungs, but it also provokes intense muscle pumping. This is very important, because filling the muscles with blood not only delivers nutrients and stretches the muscle fibers. It has been proven that pumping stimulates an increase in the secretion of growth hormone, and growth hormone is, in combination, an anabolic and lipolytic (fat burner).
If you’re ready to add Tabata style exercises to your final strength training session, here are some tips:
- Choose multi-joint exercises that use more muscles than isolated movements.
- Avoid exercises in which it is difficult to take a starting position. For example, a seated machine press is better than an overhead dumbbell press.
- Since you will be working with crazy intensity, I advise you to choose exercises not with free weights, but in machines. This will make it easier for you to follow the technique of performing the movements, especially against the background of fatigue at the end of the approach. Chest press, deadlift, Smith squat, or leg press are good choices.
- Work quickly and intensely, but do your reps cleanly. Choose a weight that you can do 12-15 reps with the ideal technique, but train for time, not reps.
- Buy a stopwatch or download a Tabata timer to your phone so that the intervals are guaranteed to be constant. It is difficult to keep track of the time when you are working at maximum output.
- Full-body workouts are prime candidates to recreate the crazy intensity of Tabata training. They can be done with your own weight or even with kettlebells, which will bring novelty to your strength training.
Whether you’re doing a classic Tabata cardio workout or one of the rest-pause-inspired cardio workouts, get ready to do your best and don’t be afraid to experiment. This will help you keep progressing and avoid boredom.