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The real benefits of Tabata training | results and effects of this method
Tabata training has been touted as the best exercise for losing weight, as a four-minute workout, an eight-minute routine, a whole-body exercise program and a great way to gain lean muscle. What you need to know, is that this is not backed by science and Tabata originally had a very specific goal.
The origins of Tabata training
The method was created in the 1990s by a team of scientists led by the titular Izumi Tabata. Taking a group of physically active, young male students involved in a variety of sporting teams, they split them into two groups; one performing moderate-intensity
exercise and the other, high-intensity.
Tabata’s high-intensity group experienced the greater benefit, and the significance of those results has reverberated throughout the fitness and sporting world for more than 20 years.
What was the high intensity training?
Test subjects were placed on ‘mechanically-braked cycle ergometers’ (fancy stationary cycles) and performed a ten-minute warm-up, followed by a very specific high intensity internal training (HIIT) set; 20 seconds of exercise at 170% of VO2max,
10 seconds rest, repeated 7-8 times.
This is now known as the Tabata method.
What does that actually mean?
To grasp how this works, you need to understand a few key terms: aerobic, anaerobic and VO2max.
Aerobic (with oxygen) includes sports or fitness activities that you would describe as ‘cardio’, meaning they’re powered by your body’s ability to transport and use oxygen to meet your energy demands.
Anaerobic (without oxygen) includes lifting weights, sprinting and exercises or sports that involve short bursts of intense activity. Because these require more oxygen than your body can deliver, the energy needed is
taken from glucose (sugar) in your muscles.
VO2max (oxygen capacity) is the maximum amount of oxygen you can use during intense exercise – the higher your VO2max, the greater your body’s capability to produce the energy it needs from oxygen consumption. It is measured
in ml of oxygen per minute, per kilogram.
By combining high intensity interval training with a rest period shorter than the work period, Tabata targets not only the anaerobic energy system which is responsible for short, high intensity exercise such as sprints, but also the aerobic energy system, used for endurance exercise such as long, slow running. In this way, it differs from traditional interval training.
What can Tabata training do for you?
Test subjects showed some significantly improved results at the end of their training period:
- VO2max increased by 7ml per kilo per minute
- Anaerobic capacity increased by 28%
However, the study didn’t show any positive results relating to about weight loss, muscle gain or physique changes.
Tabata is a supplementary training method – basically you might use it to be better at your main exercise, sport or goal. If you want to run further, it can increase your VO2max. If you want to have more energy while lifting, it can increase your anaerobic capacity. Forcing you to push hard for a concentrated amount of time means you really have to challenge yourself.
“Tabata boosts VO2max and anaerobic capacity but has not been proven to impact weight loss, muscle gain or anything related to a change in physique”
Note: if you are thinking about attempting Tabata training, we recommend you visit a GP to see if they think it’s right for you.
Aerobic vs. Anaerobic: What is The Difference? – MyFoodDiary.com
VO2 Max Testing – University of Virginia School of Medicine
All information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only. The information provided should not be relied upon as medical advice and does not supersede or replace a consultation with a suitably qualified healthcare professional.
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