Re: Tabata Training
- From: thirty-six <thirty-six@xxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Fri, 20 Jan 2012 15:54:25 -0800 (PST)
On Jan 20, 9:04 am, Justin <justinlewis...@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
Is the following still considered to be valid?
Intensity vs. Duration
Tabata's primary research interest was the effects of exercise
intensity on fitness. Through his work he came to believe that
exercise intensity was at least as important as, if not more important
than, exercise duration. So when he heard about a workout that packed
two minutes and 40 seconds of maximum-intensity work into a four-
minute period (and that's for those who could do eight intervals), he
To test the effects of this workout, Tabata first transferred it from
speed skating to stationary bikes. Then he recruited subjects and had
them perform the protocol five times a week for six weeks. At the
beginning and again at the end of the study period, Tabata and his
team measured the subjects' VO2 max and their anaerobic capacity. To
provide a basis for comparison, Tabata conducted a second experiment
in which subjects pedaled stationary bikes for one hour at a moderate
intensity (70 percent of VO2 max) five days a week for six weeks.
Their VO2 max and anaerobic capacity were also measured before and
after the intervention.
The results were staggering. Subjects in the moderate-intensity
exercise trial improved their VO2 max by a healthy 9.5 percent, while
their anaerobic capacity did not change at all. Subjects in the
maximum-intensity intervals trial—despite exercising for only 20
minutes per week, compared to five hours per week for the other group—
improved their VO2 max by 14 percent and their anaerobic capacity by a
whopping 28 percent.
Needless to say, this study got a lot of attention when it was
published back in 1996, and coaches and athletes began to adapt the
protocol to sports ranging from swimming to boxing. Virtually everyone
who tried the Tabata protocol made the same report: It was
excruciatingly painful, but it was effective.
I learned about Tabata intervals from Brian MacKenzie, owner of
Genetic Potential, a fitness facility in Newport Beach, California.
MacKenzie trains a number of triathletes and incorporates stationary-
bike and treadmill Tabata sessions into the program of all who are
willing to endure the suffering these workouts entail. An ultra-runner
himself, MacKenzie credits his own twice-weekly Tabata sessions with
enabling him to improve his performance on a training schedule
averaging only 6.5 hours per week, and he says his triathlete clients
have reported similar benefits.
If you think you have what it takes to survive the Tabata protocol,
set up your indoor trainer and warm up with a few minutes of easy
spinning followed by a few short (10- to 20-second) efforts at 90
percent of maximum intensity at increasing tension levels. Reset your
computer to zero so you can record the total distance covered in the
following 20-second intervals alone. You will try to increase this
total each time you repeat the workout.
To perform your first interval, simply churn out the highest wattage
total or perceived effort you possibly can for 20 seconds. You can
stay in the saddle or get out of the saddle and use whatever
combination of gear ratio and cadence that works best. After 20
seconds have elapsed, stop pedaling for 10 seconds—and 10 seconds
only. Now do your second interval. Do not expect to be able to do more
than six intervals in your first attempt. Cool down with just a few
minutes of easy spinning.
If you're like a lot of triathletes, you will be tempted to
incorporate this session into a longer workout. Don't. If you do more
than a warm-up beforehand, you will fall apart completely after just a
few intervals, and while you will still be giving a maximum effort,
you will not be working at your true maximum output level, and that's
what counts. And you simply won't be able to even think about doing
anything more than a short cool-down after completing your Tabata
There are two approaches you can take to incorporating the Tabata
protocol into your regular training. One option is to do the session
regularly—from once every 10 days to as often as twice a week—during
the base-building period of training to quickly and efficiently boost
your aerobic and anaerobic fitness. Continue to do the session
regularly until your performance (i.e. your maximum total distance
covered) within the session stops increasing and levels off, and then
turn your focus to more race-specific types of high-intensity
workouts. Henceforth just do the session whenever you feel the need
for a good blast.
A second option is to use the Tabata protocol primarily as a time-
saver. Whenever you're pressed for time but you still want to get the
fitness benefits of a solid workout, toss in a Tabata and have it both
It's not something I specifically applied although there are some
similarities in that you cannot fulfill an all-out effort unless you
are well-recovered and it is only through complete recovery before
applying a maximal effort will one exercise the maximal effort
ability. Base training is still necessary to create good
vascularisation and exercise of the acid reduction pathway can only be
fully effected by creating acidosis and continuing. Ventilatory
exercise alone using a restrictive device will improve veltilatory
capacity and throughput. The Tabata method seems a useful tool, but I
doubt it can eradicate the necessary training time to effect the best
acid reduction following prolonged and intense excercise effort.
Skill in turning the cranks in the most efficient manner and
controlling acidosis are the keys to high level cycling performance.
- Re: Tabata Training
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