I love the Tabata method. Perhaps love is a bit strong, but I do enjoy the fitness training benefits derived from this simple exercise protocol. It’s an especially suitable methodology to apply in a workout for martial arts as the protocol mimics the on/off intensity of both sporting and street fights.
For those unfamiliar with the Tabata method I’ll explain. This simple protocol involves eight sets of 20 seconds high intensity exercise followed by 10 seconds rest which extends to just four minutes in total! That’s a quick workout in anyone’s book.
In the original study they used cycle ergometers but any exercise really will do. Cross fit use it a lot and will apply allsorts of exercises to the methodology. As we are interested in martial arts we use a lot of specific exercises. So one circuit involves the following exercises
|Circuit 1||Circuit 2||Plus Four|
|Dump the dump bag||Hop across the dump bag||Heavy Bag|
|Shadow fighting||Step ups||Dips|
|Pull ups||Heavy bag deadlift||Hindu Press ups|
|Abs – bum lifts||V’s||Ground and pound dump bag|
|Press ups||Shadow floor fighting|
We progressed from 12 stations to 16, by adding the four extra stations and from 20 to 30 seconds effort. The whole thing takes just a little under 11 minutes, but you know you’ve done it!
The progression from 20 to 30 seconds was a mistake on my behalf, when I set the Gymboss timer wrong! We realised when we were able to bang out loads more reps at the first station on the circuit and also at the end of the circuit those extra 10 seconds definitely add up!
The Gymboss timer is an essential bit of kit, in my mind, it’s a great little thing that takes the pain out of the timing. I did try to do Tabata’s without a proper timer and it was just too difficult, the timer allows you to put all your efforts into banging out the reps, thereby keeping the intensity high. i highly recommend it, I am on my second, leaving the first behind after training once, and both have been great.
The versatility of this method means that you can choose whatever exercises you like but the important part is to work at a very high intensity, it’s pointless coasting. The fitness gains are extraordinary. In the original study, over a six week period participants showed dramatically improved aerobic (14%) and anaerobic (28%) capacity while later studies have shown that high intensity exercises protocols similar to Tabata’s burn nine times the amount of fat per calorie burned exercising compared to purely aerobic endurance training.
Recently, I have been testing these findings on myself, within the limits of a home gym. Watch this blog to see what happens!
The beauty of this protocol is the versatility although high intensity should be maintained so exercises using a large muscle volume should be used over isolated muscle. This versatility makes the Tabata method ideal for the home gym.
Pull ups would be a better choice than bicep curls. If strength exercises are employed explosive reps are the way to go. The idea is to stress the cardiovascular system intensely.