Tuesday, February 5, 2008
Tabata Timer - A Godsend?
People on the CrossFit online community have been raving about this new program created by Hans-Christian Sperker - which provides us hardcore workout junkies with one more tool to add to our workout arsenal. Sperker created a nifty Tabata Timer application with a user-friendly, foolproof interface, which could be downloaded to just about any computer (both PCs and Macs) with Java 6. Work/rest intervals can be altered as desired, the timer emits a ringing shriek that's guaranteed to wake the dead when it's time to haul ass, and it even keeps track of the rounds you've done. There's even a version on Sperker's site that can be downloaded to PDAs/mobile devices, just so you won't be able to use the excuse that you don't want to/can't lug your computer around when you go for a workout.
A little more information on the Tabata training methodology for the uninitiated:
The Tabata workout is a high-intensity training regimen that produces remarkable results. A Tabata workout is an interval training cycle of 20 seconds of maximum intensity exercise, followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated without pause 8 times for a total of four minutes.
Credit for this simple but powerful training method belongs to its namesake, Dr. Izumi Tabata and a team of researchers from the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo, Japan. Their groundbreaking 1996 study, published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports & Exercise, provided documented evidence concerning the dramatic physiological benefits of high-intensity intermittent training. After just 6 weeks of testing, Dr. Tabata noted a 28% increase in anaerobic capacity in his subjects, along with a 14% increase in V02Max. (Maximum oxygen consumption). These results were witnessed in already physically fit athletes. The conclusion was that just four minutes of Tabata interval training could do more to boost aerobic and anaerobic capacity than an hour of endurance exercise.
Although Dr. Tabata used a mechanically braked cycle ergometer, you can apply this protocol to almost any exercise. For example, a basic Tabata workout can be performed with sit-ups. The more muscles used the better, so use full knees-bent sit-ups. Sit-up non-stop for 20-second intervals, followed by 10 seconds of rest. Repeat for a total of 8 cycles.
You might ask, "How effective can just 4 minutes of exercise be?" The answer is… extremely effective! You will be amazed at how intense the four minutes of exercise will feel. The intervals tax both your aerobic and anaerobic energy systems. To be clear, this isn't "eight sets of eight," although the goal of doing eight reps in each of the 20-second clusters is about right. Instead it's "as many reps as I can get in" during the twenty seconds, followed by ten seconds rest.
Courtesy of: Tabata Anything - Four Minutes of Pain to Gain
Typically, the Tabata workouts in CrossFit are 20-24 minutes long. (Then again, there's nothing typical about CrossFit - I wouldn't be surprised if a 60-minute Tabata workout appeared as a Painstorm in the future...) So that means 5-6 exercises with 4 minutes of work each. The possibilities for exercises in Tabata workouts are limitless - you could do just about anything. Relatively milder options include situps, KB swings - while those who are up for a challenge (or like to gleefully revel in the misery of others) could incorporate burpees, weighted thrusters, weighted jumping squats, or any other total-body movement with a high suck factor, particularly when performed in large amounts with insignificant rest periods. I suggest incorporating Tabata workouts into your training schedule to inject even more variation into your workouts. The Tabata methodology can be used to great benefit in athletic conditioning for just about any sport - for instance, Matt Fitzgerald talked about how triathletes could reap the benefits of short, intense training sessions, by using the Tabata method. Read his article here: Go for Broke with Tabata Intervals.