Posted By: Shopprice New Zealand
You just need to spare 240 seconds a day to fit into those five-year-old jeans. Tabata, an increasingly popular workout plan, promises that.
In the song 4 minutes, Madonna croons, “I’m out of time, I’ve only got four minutes!” The pop star may have been talking about saving the environment, but she could have easily been talking about the woes of all those men and women who are eternally hard-pressed for time.Work-outs invariably take a backseat. But fitness experts now point out that with High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) programmes like Tabata that include bouts of short, yet gruelling work, you can bid adieu to your woes.
Besides saving time, they can also transform your mundane fitness regime. Tabata was conceptualised by Izumi Tabata, a former researcher at Japan’s National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Kanoya. He created the HIIT formula for Olympians in an attempt to improve their aerobic and anaerobic fitness levels in reduced time periods. The protocol appears relatively simple at first glance -a given exercise must be executed in 20 seconds at maximal intensity and the following ten seconds should be used for a quick recovery. This 30-second cycle is repeated eight times to make one four-minute block. While exercisers usually perform several blocks, Izumi tested the formula with a single block and revealed that even the four minute-bout produced better results among exercisers, when compared to those performing moderate intensity exercises for an hour.
Anupa Hinduja swears by Tabata. The medical student recently attempted three blocks of this form of exercise for the first time and admits that planks taught her the value of a minute and Tabata made her realise that even 20 seconds can be quite merciless. “Even before the final 20 seconds were up, I was prepared to raise my hands and call it a day. I initially thought it was a measly 20-second sprint, but it was too hard to complete. I could only crawl through the last cycle,” recalls Hinduja. By the 16th minute, Hinduja was panting hard and sweat-slicked -something that usually happens only at the end of her five-km runs.
To us, this sounds like a win-win situation. Not only are results visible after investing four minutes per session, they are even better than those achieved through longer workouts. The only catch? “One has to go `all out’ for those 20 seconds. Without that, it’s not really Tabata,” says Dr Vishwanath Prabhu, a lifestyle consultant and ACSMReebok faculty member.
There Is Warmth In The After Tabata Burn
Dr Prabhu adds that Tabata is one of the most acceptable forms of HIIT programmes. “It requires an individual’s maximal effort, but it’s only for a paltry 20 only for a paltry 20 seconds before one gets to recover,” he says, adding that the seemingly insignificant time duration has led to a change in behaviour towards exercise among individuals.
The `after-burn’ effect of Tabata is undoubtedly one of its most celebrated benefits. Its fluctuating levels of intensity make the body a sponge for oxygen for several hours after the workout which, in turn, boosts the metabolic rate temporarily. Thus, Tabata pushes the body to burn calories at a higher rate, for around eight to 24 hours after the workout -even if all you do, post workout, is sit on your couch and watch TV.
Unlike other cardiovascular workouts, Tabata also restrains the body from feeding on its own muscles. “Loss of muscle mass implies loss of strength, and hence fitness,” explains Dr Prabhu. A boon for patients with high blood pressure, Tabata also promotes insulin sensitivity, thus helping people keep diabetes at bay.
Is tabata for you?
“It’s for everyone,” says Dr Prabhu.”Tabata occupies a small place under the bigger umbrella of HIIT, and like every HIIT programme, it requires a certain level of fitness,” he cautions, explaining that once a decent level of fitness is achieved, the benefits of the programme can be reaped by absolutely anyone, if performed safely. “I have a 69-year-old client who executes a full Tabata session beautifully. We perform squats, lunges, push-ups and the dreaded planks too, without any problem,” he says, matter-of-factly.
Although Dr Prabhu appreciates Tabata for not being dependent on equipment, he also cautions that it shouldn’t wipe out other conventional methods of training. “With HIIT becoming such a rage today, people are turning their backs on older forms of exercise. Yes, HIIT has multiple benefits, but none of them can replace those reaped through traditional cardio work outs. Everything has its own benefits, and leaving out one method to one method to develop anoth er will always leave you weak in something.”
How much is too much?
The American Council of Sports Medicine calls for a Medicine calls for a minimum of 20-30 minutes of moderate to high intensity cardiovascular exercise to be performed thrice a week. “This implies that relatively fit individuals can execute eight blocks of Tabata, thrice a week,” says Dr Prabhu, quickly adding that the number isn’t a general representation, but is, in fact, a very specific one. “It truly depends on an individual’s fitness level.People who haven’t trained much could get exhausted in a single block, with an activity as simple as climbing a flight of stairs. They should attempt to master one bout before working towards the next.”