Tabata Training

The older I get the more determined I am to stay focused on a regular fitness program.  I want to move into my golden years a  strong, healthy woman.  Hiking, biking, and pickleball are all a part of my fitness routine, as is resistance training, which can be more of a challenge when your home is on the road.  I get easily bored so feel the need to change things up often as well.  I believe our bodies need these shifts to keep us off those plateaus that tend to derail our progress, and in the process we burn more body fat, increase strength, improve flexibility, and build muscle mass.

Throughout my life I have tried many workout programs in my quest to reach fitness goals, some with better results than others.  Over the past few years there has been a great deal of discussion around the positive benefits from high-intensity interval training (HIIT), giving our metabolism the boost it often needs.  I can vouch for its efficacy, so when I read about Tabata training, which is a HIIT program, I was ready for the challenge.

Japanese scientist Dr. Izumi Tabata and his team of researchers from the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo discovered this training program recently after working with two groups of athletes for 6 weeks.  Group one worked out 5 days/week for an hour at moderate intensity while group two worked out 4 days/week at high intensity.  For group two each workout session lasted four minutes total, 20 seconds for each of eight exercises, with 10 seconds of rest in between each exercise.

Group one increased their aerobic (cardiovascular) system with no improvement to their anaerobic (muscle) system but group two rocked it, boosting their aerobic strength beyond that of group one and increased their anaerobic system by 28 percent.

This protocol is the official program, while most Tabata training programs you find online are copycat versions, lasting 20-30 minutes.  The intensity is not as extreme but you will still get a great workout that leaves you breathless and pleasantly sore.

Here is just one example of a Tabata workout:

Push-ups (4 minutes)
Squats (4 minutes)
Burpees (4 minutes)
Mountain Climbers (4 minutes)

Perform each exercise for 20 seconds at high intensity then rest for 10 seconds, striving to complete 8 sets.  Rest for one minute, then move on to the next exercise.

I downloaded a custom interval timer to my Android phone and created by own Tabata timer but there are many timers available for both Android and iPhones.  You can check them out here.

The beauty of a (copycat) Tabata workout is that you can do just about any exercise you want, particularly those that work your large muscle groups. No fancy equipment is needed, although you can use dumbbells and incorporate kettlebell exercises as well.  All exercises could be done using only your body weight, so whether you pull your home down the road with you or travel by car, staying in hotels along the way, this is a convenient program to use.  If you are looking to change-up your exercise routine, google Tabata training or check out the YouTube videos online, and get ready for an intense workout.

24 thoughts on “Tabata Training

  • I will check this out. I never heard of Burpees or Mountain Climbers, but I guess I’ll find out. My biggest problem is discipline, or lack thereof. I have a lot of exercises I need to do for my back and knees. I do lots of research for them, and have good intentions, but……….. Any suggestions?

    • I’m not sure burpees or mountain climbers would be the exercises to do for bad knees, but google Tabata and you should find all kinds of suggestions.

  • Our daughter and her friends are big fitness people so all these are very familiar to me. Being in a house on wheels in no excuse to skip working out. There are so many options to keep you going, as you have just explained. I carry three different sets of weights, as well as ankle weights, and have a tension band attached to my recliner all the time. I also carry an exercise ball which “sleeps” on the bed during the day and then moves to the couch at night. The only problem is adding or letting out air out as we move up and down in elevation. But I carry a little pump:) This was a great post for those us in the Golden Age Years. So important to keep moving:) You look wonderful:)

    • Thanks Pam. I thought I would post this as I tend to get tired of the same old routine and these high intensity, short workouts are a nice change of pace. I must admit I love having a gym at my disposal part of the year. I know that you are a ‘no excuse’ kind of gal. 🙂

  • WOW…thanks so much for the new exercise routine. I am in the process of discontinuing my Planet Fitness membership. So many places we stop along our travels do not have a PF. I need something I can do in the 5er. My weight is great but I am flabby. I appreciate the time you took to explain the plan and give us the links. After the holiday, I will have some time to look at the program.

    • I thought it would be useful for those on the road. Terry always worried about carrying dumbbells around with us because of the extra weight. Tabata can be done with only your body weight and it doesn’t take that long. I am really liking it for a change in routine.

  • I gave this a try and can attest that it’s a tough workout. We have so little floor space it’s hard to do much in the way of exercise, but this along with bands makes for a good workout. We do miss having access to a gym.
    Hope you’re having a good trip so far!

    • It kicks my butt every time I do it. I really appreciate having a gym available for part of the year. We are really enjoying our trip so far. Lots of laughs with our friends in Bozeman.

  • You look fantastic, LuAnn! I do a 10-minute strength routine (squats/plank/lunges/pushups/back extensions) every other day, but I need to increase that. You’re inspiring me. 🙂 I agree that bodyweight exercises are perfect for RV travel. I must admit I sometimes miss my yoga classes, though.

    • I think I still have far to go but I have noticed a bit more toning since I started doing the Tabata training, and have access to a gym. I’m sure that I will notice flabbier arms when we return from our adventures. 😦 Nothing works better for my arms than free weights.

  • Im so glad you did this post LuAnn, especially now that Im on the sideline for a while. All it takes for me is to get up and stop excusing that i can’t do exercise in our home. I will surely copy this routine.

  • This is an interesting alternative to the usual pick a massive hill and hammer up it, although my buns are fantastic! Okay they probably aren’t but somebody has to say they are so I nominated me.

  • Thanks for reinforcing what I have heard about how to boost your metabolism. I have lost 50 pounds (dieting, walking, low impact aerobics, swimming, and use of the elliptical machine). I am now “stuck.” My plan is to hire a trainer and see if with resistance training I can get the scale moving down again. Tabata exercises may be out of the question because of my knee and back issues, but I’ll see. Fingers crossed.

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