If you’re in the market for a new workout, you may want to try the Tabata workout (like we need another type of exercise to worry about!). A celebrity favorite that falls into the high-intensity interval training (HIIT) category, the quick yet effective workout, which hails from Japan, is also said by many to be one of the hardest they’ve ever done, simply because it involves going all out for short bursts of time.
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Like any other type of HIIT exercise, New York trainer Terrence Walcott says you’re expected to complete a work set at your maximum ability followed by a rest set, only to complete a work set with an intensity as strenuous as the previous set.
New York trainer Trevor Swaine describes it like pushing your body to the point of near failure and only give it seconds to recover. “You may feel fatigue and exhaustation with a Tabata workout, which is common, but there’s also a great release of endorphins at the end of the workout.” And, in terms of the results, you can expect to see your metabolism kicked into high gear (not just during the day or training, but for the next day, too) and to break through mental and physical plateaus.
So why on Earth would anyone choose to subject themselves to it? “Because it challenges you aerobically and anaerobically, meaning you’re doing cardio and promoting muscle growth,” says Walcott. “Unlike normal aerobic exercise, you are able to get your heart rate to it’s maximum levels. You’ll be able to increase your strength and a higher metabolic rate, which means that you’re burning more fat over the long run.” Each workout session is broken down into rounds, or Tabatas, that last, on average, about four minutes. To do it, all you need to do is pick an exercise (be it running, battle ropes, jumping, squats, burpees, etc.) and go full force for 20 seconds and then rest for 10 seconds. Then, repeat it for four minutes straight or about seven or eight rounds. “It’s different from other workouts because instead of looking to count reps or an amount of weight, the goal is to train for a specific amount of time with a specific amount of rest,” says Swaine.
But, here’s the catch: If you don’t physically push yourself to the max, you won’t reap the benefits. Intensity is key here. “If you don’t push yourself, you won’t get the increased metabolism and state of calorie burning you are going for,” says Swaine.
Just because you choose to do a Tabata workout, doesn’t mean you need to swear off all other types of exercise. “Tabata is a great tool to add to your workout program, but it shouldn’t replace traditional strength training,” says Walcott. “If you work out three to four times a week, I would incorporate a Tabata workout toward the end of the week. Tabatas are great also when you have been training regularly and are in a time crunch. But, you would be doing yourself a disservice to only train Tabata style over a long period of time.”
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