Monday, January 2, 2017

2017 January Tabata Challenge

Tabata Izumi is the man responsible for the Japanese Olympic Speed skating team several winter Olympics ago. They did very well, if I recall. This routine will require a Tabata timer, which is free to download. We may as well consider it a Tabata-style workout. There are those who will scoff at calling this a true Tabata workout since we are not going to get anywhere near the 170% VO2Max that is required blah blah blah. If this comes down to only two minor differences, one of which is a certainty (just mentioned) and the other is speculative, then whoop-dee-doo. What is the speculative issue?

Alright, fair question. One fitness expert and blogger in Canada has posed the possibility that such high-intensity interval training may not actually burn any fat. However, even in Tabata’s study, which I have read and which many other writers have also read, state the following. Two groups did two different types of training. One did traditional moderate intensity 60-minute aerobics for 5 days of the seek. The other group did four days of the cycle 20 seconds as hard as you can with 10 seconds to question your sanity. This cycle was repeated for a total of eight cycles for a total of four minutes. On the fifth day the Tabata group did a 30-minute steady state aerobic cycle followed by a four minute cycle.

The Tabata group showed an increase in both their VO2Max and anaerobic capacity. What that means is their aerobic capacity, both sprint and endurance, increased AND they gained muscle capacity in the process.

This month I am going to put up or shut up about Tabata. If you are anything like me, overeating has really caught up with you … and me … ouch. What was an encouraging 220 to 215 with fluctuations became a slap in the face 240-pounds. Yes, I did. So, here we go …

All the major muscle groups are going to be worked in Tabata style drills five days a week. I will record and post my workouts at the No-frills, No-Excuses, No-Cost Gym (my cramped basement, driveway, and local track & playground). Due to these factors, this routine is tailor made for the Road Warriors among us.

By doing the major muscle groups in this way, pull-ups, push-ups, crunches & leg lifts, and squats, we are actually engaging nearly all of the muscles in the body. Certainly, all of the major muscles and the largest ones, at a minimum. Why is that important? These are the ones that are going to consume the most calories during our non-exercise hours once they are trained and hardened, Greek god-like muscles. Seriously, when the muscles of the back, shoulders, chest, legs, and butt are all working right, are strong, and are firm they are going to require more calories from our bodies just to exist. Muscle takes more energy to exist than fat. Period. Fact.

As a result, the greater and stronger our muscles, the higher our resting metabolism. This means more calories burned during our non-exercise time. Too, cool, huh?

These folks who spend more time living in hotels and out of luggage than their own homes, of which I was one, have it tough. They are at risk for gaining too much weight due to fast food, travel snacks, and irregular hours. Hotel facilities vary even within national chains. So long as there is a place to do pull-ups or a door-jam to put up a portable pull-up bar and space to use a jump rope in, you have all that you need. Before we dive headlong into this, as I am prone to, let’s cover some very important ground rules first.

1.    Form First, Strength and Stamina will follow – Always maintain your form. If you are breaking form, you are done. Even if there is more time in the exercise portion of the cycle, take the time to recover. Tabata’s experiment used trained athletes. Most of us are probably not. Many of us are likely getting back into the swing of things after taking too much time away from exercising, like me.
2.    Accept Your Limits – tAccept them to a point ... This keys in with Rule #1. Not everyone can do a pull-up. Not all of us can do a full-range squat. If your body tells you that there is no chance in hell that it will let you do something, listen to it. You should know the difference between a pain that says you haven’t done something in a while and a pain that says you shouldn’t do something. Period. Pay attention to your body and your doctor.
3.    Enlist a Friend – Most any routine can be done alone; however, having a buddy there to go through this you will help in so many ways. The two or three or however many of you will motivate, support, laugh at and with each other during all of this. What else could you ask for?
4.    You are Using the Master Blaster’s Intensity Techniques – Joe Weider, the Master Blaster himself, came up with several of the intensity techniques that you and I are using and experiencing in these exercises. Forced Reps, Negatives, Cheats, and so forth were institutionalized and normalized by Mr. Weider. These were used by Lou Ferigno and Arnold Schwarzenegger and numerous other lifters over the decades. As a result, we will need [to be reminded how important] recovery time [is between workouts] when starting off. Over-Training is not a myth. It does lead to injuries. Injuries lead to time away from training as well as convincing people to stop.

What NOT to do
1.    Count repetitions – Many people focus on just the number. They either miss it and get discouraged or hit it and stop. Just keep moving with good. Solid form for the 20 second intervals.
2.    Give up – You are liable to not feel so great after your, and my, first couple of sessions. Believe me, I get it. So does my teenage football-playing, martial arts practicing son. The day after is going to hurt! See it through, though. Build the mental and physical toughness

As I mentioned above, Joe Weider developed a number of principles that have formed the foundation of knowledge in weightlifting and fitness. The four that are of primary importance are Continuous Tension, Cheating, Negatives, and Rest-Pause.

Continuous Tension – Do not allow a muscle group to rest or to have spring-reflex at the top or bottom of a movement. Control speed in both the positive and negative ranges of movement of your exercises.
Cheating – Using momentum, or some sort of an assist, to complete the repetition safely and with correct form.
Negatives – Muscles can handle more weight in the extension range of motion than in the contraction. This is an intensity technique that will force more muscle fibers to be spent than simply training to muscle exhaustion and is considered an “over-load” technique
Rest-Pause – Taking of brief rests during an exercise period in order to complete more repetitions.

The goals of these are to  push beyond positive muscle failure, PMF. This is when an exercise cannot be completed with strict form. For example, pull-ups. I can only do, say two good pull-ups. But, I know that there are more muscle fibers to be engaged in the muscle groups involved. What do I do? I grab onto the pull-up bar and hop to get my chin over the bar, cheating. Then, I lower myself as slowly as I can manage, negatives. I let go of the bar for a moment or two then repeat the last two movements, rest-pause. By engaging these principles, I am actually using, or breaking, more muscle fibers than I would have if I had just stopped at positive muscle failure when it occurred from continuous tension repetitions.

It is impossible to stress the importance of proper form. These techniques will push your body beyond what it is capable of, or what you believe you are capable of. Things will hurt the next day. Be ready for it. Get over it. Push through it.

All that being said, here are the meat and potatoes of our routine.
Crunches, Leg Lifts

To get this party started, here is my first video. Note that I am back at the beginning myself. We can do this together. Videos will likely be raw and amateurish for a while as I am no video editor. When the weather permits I will also use the bleacher backs at the local track or the local playground.

The videos will have to link in from elsewhere ... I will have that done ASAP. There is a size limit on the luggage for this flight. I will find a way around it and put the links into the comments below.

See ya out there!

Updated 1/3/2017
LINKS!!  Here are the links to the videos of my doing this routine.
Crunches & Leg Lifts

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