One thing, before we go into the big bennies of this training, let’s go over something that those of us doing them already have come to realize and those who have not yet need to consider. This type of training is tough on the body. It is really harsh on the body. If we were using weights, cold, hard iron weights, then there would be some major issues in doing this daily. Weight training is not recommended more than three days a week. That is, unless, you are using a type of split training cycle where the major muscle groups are being trained two times per week with such intensity that even three days would lead to injury. Yes, I have done those types of workouts. They are as much fun as pain inducing. No, really, I love them.
Since we are only using our own body weight and nothing else we can run these daily … we are using just our own bodies, right? That had better not be the sound of crickets and nervous glances I’m hearing from out there … seriously.
Many of us have been through military training and, before that, on some kind of school athletic team. In both of those we trained with body weight and on a near daily schedule, at the very least Sunday through Sunday.
As I mentioned above, we are going go into more detail on several benefits of this high intensity style of training.
Exercise post oxygen consumption is also known as oxygen debt. Why is this important? Those exercises that burn more O2 burn more calories. This is where Tabata drills can be more effective in two weeks over the traditional 60 minute jogs. This is where the studies I have seen all seem to stop, at the two-week point. My challenge is to take this and expand the routine to four weeks. Ever since hearing about these, I have wanted to do this.
EPOC only happens after you are finished training. It starts as soon as you start your recovery period. During this time your body repairs the muscles (this is when you get stronger and experience muscle growth). There is cellular repair. Several of your hormones have been altered by the intensity of your training and are being reset to normal levels. Most importantly, EPOC.
Fatty acids are released into the blood stream. These are then oxidized at a higher rate. When the body uses these acids as energy and converts some of them back into fat stores more calories are used.
Obviously, this effect is going to be greatest right after your workout and it will slow down as time goes on until everything goes back to normal. The European Journal of Applied Physiology published a study in 2002 that was quite impressive. This study showed an increased metabolic rate up to 38 hours after training.
It is this after burn that gives Tabatas the edge over the traditional aerobics. This type of training builds muscle (long term higher metabolic rate), longer EPOC (up to 38 hours), and burns through your glycogen stores in short order (around 20 minutes).
This is not something that should be done without talking to your doctor. Something which needs to be done with any and every regimen that is undertaken for our health. Always, always, always talk to your doctor first. That way, you can also be referred to a good psychologist to deal with delusions of grandeur. Seriously, talking to your doctor before jumping into a fitness routine or changing your lifestyle drastically is always the best idea.
Now, Tabatas and your heart, what to expect. There are cardiologists who have concern regarding this style of training. Boxers, cyclers, rowers, and other athletes who deal with intense bouts and bursts of performance do not necessarily live longer than traditional aerobic athletes. Some cardiologists are concerned about 40-somethings doing these exercises. 20s and 30s? Still, talk to your doctor.
If you are healthy, Harvard Medical finds that working at the range of 70% to 80% of your maximum heart rate is a safe thing for those who are already in adequate shape. How do you find your maximum heart rate? Subtract your age from 220 to roughly approximate your maximum heart rate during exercise. Exercising at between 60% and 70% of your estimated maximum heart rate is sufficient to build cardiovascular fitness. If you can gradually condition your way up to 80%, the fitness gains will be even more noticeable. I try to go a bit further, just because I’m goofy that way.
How would you know if you’re in adequate physical condition to try this? Ask your doctor.
These are part of the overall endurance package and not to be confused with the lie that these could or would replace all endurance training. These are great to mix up the routine. They shake us out of our regular pattern.
A study published in Medicine and Sports Science from 1996 looked at test subjects who were tested in Tabata training for 5 days a week for 6 weeks. The results of this study showed an anaerobic increase of 28%. Participants also showed significant improvement in their aerobic capacity. The study, published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise (1997) 29, 390-395, concluded that the Tabata protocol was increasing both aerobic and anaerobic capacity in study participants.
The study used two groups, IE1 and IE2. IE1 performed the test at 170% VO2max doing 20 second work and 10 second rest intervals while IE2 performed at around 200% VO2max with 2-minute rests between each round. The conclusion was that the participants working at the 170% level saw a far better increase in both categories.
Tabata had higher oxygen deficit and for longer period
O2 levels in muscle tissue may be fully restored in 30 seconds, so the 2-minute rest for IE2 had the group going back to each cycle at full, or near full, capacity for each bout.
The human body is incredibly adaptable. It adjusts to our training very fast. Which is why we so frequently hit plateaus. Tabatas are a great way to get off that plateau. This is the sledgehammer to break through your wall.
Whether you spar/fight, swim, run, cycle, do under water basket weaving, I don’t know what your sport is, speed and endurance can always benefit from being bumped up.
Having done several cycles by of the full body Tabata style workout, you have most likely found yourself huffing and puffing pretty good. Within the four-minute time frame. This is your body reaching out for more oxygen to turn glycogen into energy. This is how muscles are fueled. Glycogen that is stored in our muscles is turned into energy that fuels those muscles in movement. The more we move, the more intense that movement, the faster that glycogen is exhausted. Once that immediately available glycogen is gone our body turns to what is stored in our liver. After that is gone, body fat is attacked for energy.
How long does it take to burn out your total glycogen stores? That will vary from person to person as the variables change. Fitness level, athletic level, body type, the position of the stars, the house of the rising sun, you name it. Generally speaking, though, light to moderate aerobics will take up to 90 minutes to drain all your glycogen stores. Blood, muscle, liver, all of it. Tabatas and other HIIT? That takes 20 minutes.
So, push yourselves as hard as you can, as safely as you can. Seriously, no doctor visits or ambulance rides from this. Because, that is a mission failure. Seriously Don’t go there.
This challenge is giving us 16 minutes of solid work. Add to this a Tabata run and you get a round 20 minutes followed by several more minutes of huffing and puffing and questioning your sanity. Then, the EPOC kicks in. This is the after burn. We talked about that already. Next, is to refuel our bodies. We have put all of this effort into breaking down muscle tissue, now we must stoke the stove for growth and regeneration.
We need carbohydrates and proteins. Eating carbohydrates 30% to glycogen 70% to fat stores. For now, I will simply say stay away from simple carbs like sugar and processed foods as best as you can. Eat fruits and vegetables. Take in lots of protein. Milk, cheeses, yogurt (real yogurt, not that over sweetened crap), lean meat, fish, chicken, quinoa is a fantastic food. Alfalfa sprouts are a great natural source of nearly all the aminos you’re going to need.
After you train there is that optimal window of one hour to gnosh down protein and carbs. One hour, gang, to shower, change, and refuel.
Go forth and achieve more than you thought you could.