Another tool in the fitness toolbox is the Tabata Interval designed by a Japanese researcher of the same name (Tabata, but not “Interval). His test subjects were the Korean national short track speedskating team. (Ask Apolo Anton Ohno if these guys are any good).
There are all different types of interval workouts and most frequently you hear about them as they relate to running. They are done on a work/rest ratio that varies depending on the energy system you are training. A 1:3 ratio equals 1 measure of work and 3 measures of rest, which would indicate a full recovery between work sets. Some intervals are aerobic in nature while others are anaerobic and it is a good idea to mix them all in with your training to maximize your conditioning.
The Tabata is a 2:1 ratio which calls for 20 seconds of high intensity work followed by a 10 second “rest”
and is done a total of 8 times and takes all of 4 minutes. Do not let the time fool you, though. You will get smoked. Variations on the original Tabata formula have been tried and yield good results but the testing indicates that for the best combination of aerobic and anaerobic conditioning, the original protocol is the most effective. If you want quick fitness in little time, the Tabata is tough and tough to beat. If you are on the road with little or no access to a gym, you can do these in your room or in a park. Keep in mind, these were designed for Olympic and elite athletes, so you must respect the Tabata.
Some exercises to “Tabata” to include sprints, push-ups, squats, jumping jacks and other bodyweight exercises, barbell, dumbbell, kettlebell, speed bag or heavy bag work. You are limited only by your imagination and by an accurate way to time yourself.
To that end, here are two resources to use: First, here is a free interval timer you can put on your laptop. The second also works on the laptop but is really great for an iPod and comes from a Crossfitter, John Elstad, who writes:
“I put together a couple MP3 files specifically for Tabata Something
Else–complete with chimes at the proper intervals so that you don’t
have to look at a watch. There’s a musical version (rap music) and a
silent version with just the chimes. The files are 16 minutes long and
about 15MB each.
By the way, feel free to make your own soundtracks using the
JustChimes MP3 and a sound editor such as Audacity. Just put the chimes
in one track and the music in the other. Be sure to share what you make.”
There are a lot of great articles on the internet on Tabatas, like over at Crossfit and leanandhungryfitness.com. A Google search will keep you busy. In the time it takes to read an article, you could have done one, though.
Crossfit takes the Tabata and makes it a 4×4 and if it sounds off-road,
it is. Four different exercises done non-stop and takes 16 minutes
instead of 4. You are not only smoked, you may vaporize!
Today I did a 4×4:
KB Swings, 20 kg, push-ups, sit-ups and air squats. Keep score if possible and record the lowest score from each set.
16 minutes. Done. Smoked. Go home.