I was introduced to the Tabata protocol by a fellow personal trainer in Chicago. Lean as the day was long and probably 120 lbs soaking wet, he had trouble keeping weight on if he wasn’t eating at least 5,000 calories a day. I could totally relate……on opposite day.
A few cities and training gigs later, the Tabata protocol still makes regular appearances in my workouts. The Tabata protocol, named after Dr. Izumi Tabata from the National Institute of Sports and Fitness in Tokyo, consists of 20 seconds of all out intensity followed by 10 seconds rest. Typically this is repeated 8 times through for a total of 4 minutes, although sometimes I like to split a set between two different exercises (a preferable modification for beginners).
Why might you want to do this aside from the usual reason of “My trainer told me to.”? The following are a few reasons why I think Tabata is tops:
-It Allows You to Compete Against Yourself: I train many golfers and tennis players who tend to have a competitive streak. Naturally, Tabata encourages them to push themselves beyond what they otherwise might. When performing Tabata sets, the general rule is to stay within 2 reps of what you perform on the first round during the following 7 rounds. To keep your motivation up workout to workout, try increasing the number you perform on the first set to keep raising the bar higher.
-It Improves Reaction Time: Now, Tabata may or may not be the reason why I take of yards ahead of the person next to me once the traffic light turns green…. Regardless, it has been proven to boost reaction time when practiced regularly. This is a welcome benefit whether you use it to school your opponent in tennis or take off at a green light like Mario Andretti.
-It Makes Any Exercise More Interesting: Done the same old way time after time, any exercise can get monotonous. Tabata can infuse life into a tired workout. You’ll be looking at the clock to time your intervals, not to lament the slow moving minute hand as your workout drones on.
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