T Nation

Making Sense of Tabata

Hello, i know this is not a new subject. I searched, i read and i got tired of wasting time. It seems it was a cool/hip/hot/new word a while ago and garbage/anything was wrote using that word.
Maybe we can have a sensible discussion now that waterever is the new-hot-hip-cool subject.

I started to introduce myself to the tabata concept/protocole today so i have a few questions.

Wich exercises are safe ?

Is it wise to use a strip down approach ?
(Like squatting with 70pounds-60-50-40-30-20-10-bodyweight)

How often can we use it weekly with a triple goal, gaining muscles/getting stronger/getting fitter or as the young crowd calls it conditioning ( i know a single goal is the fastest way but i am in no hurry. The beauty is every 2 months i can reassess and modify my training to target a lagging goal and enjoy the diversity)?

This morning i did 4 rounds of squats with 2 dumbells 15 pounds each, later finished with 4 rounds leg press targeting hams-glutes. I did not push too much to keep my regular WO but my first impression is that squats are safer. I felt that speedy leg press were potentially too hard on my knees. The squats got my heart going. At home later i tried squats with less weight i could have gone 8 rounds but stopped at 4 to wait to see how i will feel tomorrow.

I usually train 6 days weekly, about 40 min. gym session, about 3 hours later about 20 min. at home with limited equipement. Up to now my small muscles do fine on upper/lower split.

I might work up to 6 rounds on days 2, 4 and 8 rounds on day 6(before the extra day of rest). I might do squats, upstairs/uphill runs( i just bought a new quality packsack so it can be weighted), cycling alternating or a suggestion i get here. The conditioning is a new thing since i pretty much achieved my modest goals and i decided to get a new 12 months membership soon. Maybe maintenance will be my goal next year.

Thanks for your input.

EDIT, i forgot 1 question. I read in an article here that (from memory) if we start a WO with heavy weight and a compound exercise it might be more beneficial due to an hormone trigger. If we start with maybe 6 rounds tabata style is there such a benefit ?

Personally, I wouldn’t use Tabata with anything but cardio. And I believe the original protocol was 20 sec as hard as possible, 10 sec rest, repeat for 8 times total.

Last time I tried that, I was about dead by 3 minutes in.

find Dan John’s second/ latest article on tabata

[quote]RampantBadger wrote:
find Dan John’s second/ latest article on tabata[/quote]

This one?

[quote]LoRez wrote:

[quote]RampantBadger wrote:
find Dan John’s second/ latest article on tabata[/quote]

This one?

Yep.

6 rounds? One round should leave you wrecked, with an elevated heart rate for a long time afterwards. Either you have incredible conditioning or you are not doing them with enough intensity.

I usually do some combination of bodyweight squats, pushups, burpees, and sprawls depending on how I am feeling. I also use the stationary bike sometimes. Either way you have to go balls to the wall - you are only working out for 4 minutes, but it is an absolutely miserable 4 minutes if you are doing it right.

So, who here has tried tabata and feel they have improved their conditioning?

Im thinking of adding this in for a finisher on a lifting day.

tweet

Thanks guys,
"6 rounds? " i meant instead of the 8 suggested. Maybe i could have expressed it as 3 minutes not a full 4 min. tabata to get the feeling and be able to not disturb my regular training. The quote below is fom an article here

"Tabata Refresher
For clarity, let’s revisit what Japanese researcher Izumi Tabata said. His epic line was: “Six to eight very hard 20-second intervals with 10-second rest periods may be one of the best possible training protocols.”

From my reading it seems many consider 8 bursts/4minutes ( wich are really 3 minutes 50 seconds since no one will time the 10 seconds rest at the end). I am trying to find a timer like the gymboss to be able to do tabata on my bicycle. I will try a combo jumpingjack/lateral raise with tiny weights i will probably drop the weights before the 8th 20 sec.

[quote]BHappy wrote:
Thanks guys,
"6 rounds? " i meant instead of the 8 suggested. Maybe i could have expressed it as 3 minutes not a full 4 min. tabata to get the feeling and be able to not disturb my regular training. The quote below is fom an article here

"Tabata Refresher
For clarity, let’s revisit what Japanese researcher Izumi Tabata said. His epic line was: “Six to eight very hard 20-second intervals with 10-second rest periods may be one of the best possible training protocols.”

From my reading it seems many consider 8 bursts/4minutes ( wich are really 3 minutes 50 seconds since no one will time the 10 seconds rest at the end). I am trying to find a timer like the gymboss to be able to do tabata on my bicycle. I will try a combo jumpingjack/lateral raise with tiny weights i will probably drop the weights before the 8th 20 sec.[/quote]

Dude. Tabata is not meant as a strength training protocol. Lateral raises, wtf? Pick a movement that is safe when you’re tired (burpees, sprints, jump squats, front squats) and go 20 seconds all out. I repeat: ALL OUT. This means that you really want to take that ten second break and you wish it’d be longer. a tabata session is nothing you do to get your day started in a relaxed manner; If you’re doing it right, you will do NOTHING for another 5-10 minutes after you finish but lie on the floor. It’s not very taxing in terms of recovery but it will be painful.

The all out i understand. I got the feeling from the 2 min. dumbells squats test i did yesterday. But opinions seems many. An article specifically mentioned never sprints since we cannot stop instantly for the 10 sec. rest. Thanks for your input.

if you aren’t doing the all-out sprints on a bike, then you are NOT doing Tabata. Intervals yes, tabata no.

And lol at the idea of using it as a finisher! If you do it right, it will be the only thing you do that day, aside from maybe throw up and lie comatose on the floor.

People seriously underestimate it. Elite athletes struggle to finish the protocol, let alone the average gym users like us.

Well… That’s the beauty of it. Since it requires you to go all out (whatever this means for you), it will always be out of your comfort zone if you do it right, no matter who you are. In fact, I’d say that elite athletes have a better chance of killing themselves because they’re better at going all out.

[quote]BHappy wrote:
How often can we use it weekly with a triple goal, gaining muscles/getting stronger/getting fitter or as the young crowd calls it conditioning ( i know a single goal is the fastest way but i am in no hurry. The beauty is every 2 months i can reassess and modify my training to target a lagging goal and enjoy the diversity)?[/quote]
Seeing as how Tabatas do not increase strength or muscle, I wouldn’t use them often.

Presuming you’ve actually read the Dan John article linked to earlier and still don’t get what Tabatas should be like, I always thought the way Chad Waterbury described Tabatas got the point across pretty well:
"Imagine you find yourself on some rail track and you hear the sound of train coming up behind you, you turn around and see a freight train thundering towards you… your only option to run, and run hard. You try to out run the train for 20 seconds and just as it is about to hit, you jump off the tracks onto another rail track.

Your lungs are bursting and your muscles are screaming at you but after just 10 seconds you hear another train coming and you have to run for your life again!!! That is the intensity - and guess what, you get chased by a total of 8 trains meaning you are running for your life for 4 minutes."

And you think you can get that intensity with lateral raises and jumping jacks? Not likely, my man. Anything short of run-for-your-life intensity is an interval workout. Not necessarily a bad thing, but don’t get the two confused.

[quote]Chris Colucci wrote:
"Imagine you find yourself on some rail track and you hear the sound of train coming up behind you, you turn around and see a freight train thundering towards you… your only option to run, and run hard. You try to out run the train for 20 seconds and just as it is about to hit, you jump off the tracks onto another rail track.

Your lungs are bursting and your muscles are screaming at you but after just 10 seconds you hear another train coming and you have to run for your life again!!! That is the intensity - and guess what, you get chased by a total of 8 trains meaning you are running for your life for 4 minutes."

And you think you can get that intensity with lateral raises and jumping jacks? Not likely, my man. Anything short of run-for-your-life intensity is an interval workout. Not necessarily a bad thing, but don’t get the two confused.[/quote]

I like that analogy.

The only thing I don’t really follow is Dan John’s take that you can’t do it with sprinting. Now, trying to do them on a treadmill, that’s too dangerous. But if you’re on a track (or in an abandoned industrial park, which is where I used to do them), it was pretty straightforward to go all out, pause, and go all out again.

[quote]nighthawkz wrote:

Well… That’s the beauty of it. Since it requires you to go all out (whatever this means for you), it will always be out of your comfort zone if you do it right, no matter who you are. In fact, I’d say that elite athletes have a better chance of killing themselves because they’re better at going all out.
[/quote]

fair point, I still think Tabata is the most misunderstood thing ever. People talk about tabata push ups and stuff and it makes me roll my eyes.

that Waterbury analogy is brilliant!

I was taught that if your intensity is where it should be then you are truely afraid of your next Tabata workout.

You have to do full body movements. I use the Airdyne, Prowler and Erg(rowing machine)
True Tabata is a 100% effort with a negative recovery time.
Intervals are something else as are complexes.

@ Chris Colucci Thanks ! I read get huge from CW and i get his newsletter. Since i have only been into resistence training for about 11 months i did not read that from CW yet. That is why i am asking for suggestions, my trial with leg press seemed to risky on knees going full speed. Now i have squats(dumbells), riding my bike. I had never heard the word burpee, but i think a video was clear enough.
All the best !

Been doing a little bit of rest pause type stuff with squat variations where say for example ill take 225lbs (about 60% of 1rm) and bust out 5 good reps, rack it…wait about 10 seconds and then do another 5…

It really doesnt take that long till you are needing alot of oxygen.

I’ve found Tabata works well with a heavy bag, but it looks like you’re going full retard, and you need someone to hold it.

You can’t, in my opinion, use the Tabata protocol for sprinting. If you get up to proper speed, you’re going to spend your entire recovery period slowing down.

Read the ORIGINAL Tabata study. From what I remember it was used with elite athletes, who were already in shape, to see if they could get into even better shape. It wasn’t about fat loss, muscle growth, or getting fit (fitter, yes). Unless you are a speed skater or some other athlete with similar cardio demands I can see no reason to do them as having a ridiculous VO2 max serves no practical purpose. And to get to that VO2 max using Tabatas you need to already have a very good max to begin with. A max that is probably more than good enough for a non athlete.

And if you do choose to do Tabatas again, follow the original study. Using anything other than a bike and/or using an intensity that is lower than what was prescribed is not Tabata. The Tabata method has been abused and corrupted by too many in the fitness industry.

I love Dan John but you can’t do Tabatas with front squats. If you do Tabatas the right way you will end up on the floor with the weight on top of you. Knowing you can’t go to absolute failure will force you to hold back something. Sprinting on a track? As someone mentioned you will spend half your recovery slowing down from the previous sprint. Also, you need to already be in great shape to sprint all out for 20 seconds, once.

Something to consider is that asking someone to sprint all out for 20 seconds then rest for 10 and repeat is like asking the winner of the 200 meters in the Olympics to rest 10 seconds and repeat the feat, 7 more times. Doing sprints on a bike and doing them on a track are not the same. Try doing them on a track and see how long it takes to pull a hamstring. You can’t compare running to cycling. It’s why an elite runner compete in a marathon one day then has to take time off before attempting another whereas cyclists on the Tour de France can do the “equivalent” of a marathon or two a day for 3 weeks straight.