For rapid strength and conditioning, Tabata is leading the way. Dr. Izumi Tabata, a Japanese researcher, created this high-intensity, highly effective workout. It became an immediate hit with sports and fitness enthusiasts after it was touted as the method of ultimate, rapid, overall conditioning by Japanese speed skaters.
Tabata training consists of eight intervals of twenty seconds of maximum intensity workout trailed by ten seconds of idle time. It’s far from easy. In fact, it’s so demanding that it’s important to progress gradually to avoid overtraining, excessive fatigue and nausea.
It’s the intensity of the exercise that produces the results. Dr. Tabata’s test subjects used exercycles. It can be any activity that uses multiple muscle groups and reaches an intense level of endurance. Kettle bells are highly suited for Tabata exercises because they offer a choice of weight and they have portability that turns practically any location into a suitable place for the four minute strength training routine.
Kettle bells are also chosen over other exercise equipment because they require the use of supportive, stabilizing muscle groups. They build strength, coordination and balance. There is more body involvement than with barbells or dumbbells. When Tabata is done with a bit heavier weight, it increases lean muscle while burning fat which results in greater muscle density. It’s the muscle density that gives the body a defined appearance of fitness.
As with any high-intensity workout routine, it’s important to devote time to warming up and cooling down. Warm-up exercises might include shadow boxing, jumping jacks or jumping rope. The entire purpose is to prepare the heart and the rest of the body for what’s to come. Cooling down at the end of the high-intensity routine can consist of stretching exercises, leg lifts and walking.
When first starting out with a Tabata routine, do one high-intensity exercise for ten seconds and then rest for a full twenty seconds. Do it only six times. Follow this routine for the entire first week. In the second and third weeks, increase the workout to seven times and then eight times total.
Weeks four, five, six and seven should then consist of fifteen seconds of high-intensity exercise followed by fifteen seconds of rest; this will initially be done five times and increase by one repetition each week. Weeks eight through twelve, begin with twenty seconds of exercise followed by ten seconds of rest at four repetitions. Increase the repetitions by one each week until ending in the twelfth week with a full eight-repetition set.
Traditionally, Tabata relies on one selected exercise that’s repeated throughout the entire eight set. The only absolute requirement is that the exercise must be high-intensity. However, making use of a kettle ball and a complex routine creates several distinct exercises. For example, here’s one popular Tabata workout routine:
* Twenty seconds of the right arm swing followed by a ten second rest.
* Twenty seconds of the left arm swing followed by a ten second rest.
* Twenty seconds of front squats using the right arm followed by ten seconds of rest.
* Twenty seconds of front squats using the left arm followed by ten seconds of rest.
* Twenty seconds of push press with the right arm followed by ten seconds of rest.
* Twenty seconds of push press with the left arm followed by ten seconds of rest.
* Twenty seconds of a two-armed kettle bell swing followed by ten seconds of rest (repeat again).
It’s possible to complete all of the Tabata kettle bell exercises for one side of the body before switching sides to continue and then ending the routine with the two-armed swings. Mixing up the routine will keep it fresh. It won’t allow the body or the mind to become bored.
Tabata kettle bell training is not only for men. Women also use Tabata interval training for the ultimate increase in aerobic, anaerobic and cardio conditioning. One-arm kettle bell swings are ideal for women. They target the hips, thighs and butt areas as the lower body muscles are called upon to support the movements. Women have more lower body strength than men while having less upper body strength. This makes them well-suited for this routine:
* Hold a kettle bell by one hand
* Slightly bend the legs; lean forward.
* Lower the kettle bell until it’s between the knees.
* Swing the kettle bell upward to about face height while extending the hips.
* Let it fall and return to the starting position.
* Repeat as often as possible while keeping proper form for twenty seconds. Rest for ten seconds.
* Repeat with the opposite arm.
* Continue to alternate arms until the completion of four high-intensity intervals with each arm for a total of eight in the set.
Tabatas are generally limited to three sessions per week. When part of the goal is to burn fat, it’s best to incorporate them directly after strength training. Otherwise, there’s a good possibility that the high-intensity Tabata training won’t leave enough energy in reserve to accomplish the appropriate level of strength training needed to maintain current muscle mass.
If weight loss isn’t part of the goal, Tabatas can be used at any time during the strength training exercises to increase endurance. Mixing the conditioning of Tabatas with strength training is ideal for athletes who might be called upon for sudden bursts of strength and energy during a game or match. It’s tapping into whatever reserves you have and putting them into instant play.
Tabata high-intensity interval training has numerous benefits:
* It effectively develops the Vo2 Max (maximum oxygen consumption) which strengthens the heart.
* It increases the RMR (resting metabolic rate) for a full twenty-four hours after the completion of the routine. This means that calories are burned long after the routine ends.
* When you increase your Vo2 and elevate your RMR, maintaining the proper nutritional diet results in the loss of body fat.
As an added bonus, the Tabata training method means optimum strength, endurance and conditioning even when there are only four minutes to spare a few times per week. With all of the known benefits and so little time to be invested, who can afford to pass it up? Kettle bell Tabata training is not only heart smart; it’s just plain smart.