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.