I love pumping out a good Tabata! (I’ll explain in a minute). You really feel like you’ve done some work and research shows it’s a great way to build strength and fitness. If you are like me and use any excuse not to exercise, or love it but struggle to find time, then this is the baby for you! The thing with knowing we should be doing more is that when we don’t, we can feel guilty and can fall in a rut that’s hard to get out of. Trust me, Tabata training can change all that for you because it’s quick, costs nothing and it’s super effective.
Before I get into what it’s all about, let’s talk about why I don’t commit. It’s well known that we live pretty sedentary lifestyles these days and we all know we should take the stairs, park a block away, yada yada. But do we ever do it?? Well I definitely take the stairs, but I drive to the shop 200 meters away! I have always been the skinny kid so never really had to exercise for weight loss or maintenance….(which by the way proves it’s more about what you put in your mouth, just sayin’!). Anyway, this makes me lazy when it comes to improving my fitness. This means I don’t have strong joints and injure easily, and I lack a little in the muscle department, anyone who’s played netball with me will attest to that!! So a few years back when I was introduced to the Tabata training principle, I jumped on it! Perfect! Pump out 4 minutes of exercise and it’s the equivalent of riding a bike for an hour!! Well, not quite, but nearly!! I still struggle to be consistent, I go through phases, but when I do, I do it at 100% and when done regularly I have an increase in energy, feel strong and no guilt!
The HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) thing has gone berserk and with good reason, it’s super effective and quick. The Tabata started in 1996 when Dr Izumi Tabata, a world-renowned sport scientist from Japan, compared two groups of elite athletes. One group was doing 60 minutes of steady paced, medium intensity stationary cycling. The other group was completing 4 minutes of flat out exercise for 20 seconds on, 10 seconds rest, 8 times. Both groups did this 5 times a week. The result was that the interval training group had a much better increase in anaerobic capacity (the stuff you need to sprint) than the cycling group. This means you get fitter, faster and burn more calories all in 4 minutes. Yippee right? You do need to warm up beforehand and stretch at the end but you get the picture. Plus, I will add that correct form and building yourself up in intensity is of course very important here. Some people who have never exercised may be best to get advice or guidance for a while as the risk of injury is just as prevalent.
My favourite all-round routine is:
- Squats – 20 seconds
- 10 seconds rest
- Push-ups – 20 seconds (man-style until my form drops, then lady-style) let’s be real here!
- 10 seconds rest
- Sit-ups (or any core exercise) – 20 seconds (I do bike legs on my back keeping my spine flat to the ground)
- 10 seconds rest
- Tricep dips – 20 seconds
REPEAT = 4 minutes.
I then work myself up to doing that twice, so 8 minutes. You can keep working yourself up to doing more, but if you’re performing over 100% effort then your form may start to drop. But hey, if you can do it and keep good form then keep going! Functional movements act to strengthen the muscles you need for everyday activities. Squats – lifting heavy things like the groceries, push ups – getting up off the ground safely or pushing a pram, dips – lifting yourself up from awkward positions, pull-ups – getting into a boat you just fell out of!! There are so many different exercises you can do that suit your needs so chose ones that are suitable for your daily activities. Other examples are, high knees, jogging on the spot, star jumps, burpees, jump squats, donkey kicks and on and on! There are apps available that give you ideas for routines and a beeping timer so you don’t have to watch the clock! The best thing is it can be done in your lounge room, in your pyjamas, with just the floor and a coffee table for props, all while the kids eat breakfast!! Win-win!!