CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Dear Cindy,
Can you please explain Tabata when it comes to working out? Some of my girlfriends are doing it in their group training and talk about how quick and intense it is. I'm all for intensity if it gives me results, but the way they talk about it makes me think it could be dangerous. Can you elaborate on this form of exercise? -- Gail
If your friends are promoting Tabata, you've got some savvy and fit female friends. I love people who get fired up over fitness. To successfully complete a four-minute Tabata workout, you have to be aerobically conditioned and ready to push your limits to the max.
What is Tabata training?
It all began when Japanese scientist Izumi Tabata and his colleagues decided to compare moderate-intensity training with high-intensity training.
We're all familiar with the terms "moderate to intense" when it comes to physical activity recommendations. However, this is not just high intensity. It's a physical and mental test to complete the elements of a 30-minute high-intensity workout in four minutes! That's right -- I said four minutes. Be ready and be willing to be filled with this overwhelming thought: I don't really want to be in shape after all.
Many who exercise do so with the expectation that anyone who is active gets similar results. This is where Tabata training differs. Of course, there are various forms of workouts, but there are great differences in what happens to the body, and it is all tied to focus and intensity. While some increase muscle mass, others boost strength, and still others only help you drop weight.
For instance, if you go to a cardio class such as Zumba, you are working to improve cardio endurance and burn calories. It's usually moderate intensity going at the same pace and lasts 30 to 90 minutes.
Comparing moderate-intensity training with high-intensity training yielded these results on two groups of athletes, each training for six weeks.
Group one: Moderate-intensity interval training, five days a week with each session lasting one hour.
Group two: High-intensity training, four days a week with each session lasting four minutes (20 seconds high intensity followed by 10 seconds of rest).