Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Tabata training

Have you heard of tabata training? It is a new concept to me. I was interested in finding out more about it after reading a little about it in a newspaper fitness supplement. I was particularly interested when I realised it was Japanese in origin.

Tabata is a form of 'mini' circuit training or interval training 'Mini' because each circuit is only 20 seconds long with a 10 second rest between circuits. There should be 8 circuits for a full tabata session. After an initial warm-up a tabata session takes only 4 minutes to complete. The exercises for each circuit can be anything you like as long as they involve full body movements, so sprinting, push ups, lifting weights, kettle bell squats, bear crawling - you name it! It is probably best to tailor the exercises to the sport you are in training for.

Tabata training gets its name from its developer -  Izumi Tabata  at the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo, Japan. Basically he researched and compared various exercise protocols to find out the most effective way of increasing both aerobic and anaerobic conditioning. The 20 second on 10 second off protocol was the most effective.

It sounds easy doesn't it : 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off for eight rounds. Apparently not! It's not for the feint hearted. In fact it is recommended that you are in good cardio  condition before trying tabata training as it is very intense. If you are not exhausted after it then you are not doing it properly. Tabata training is used by top athletes and is particularly suitable for combat training. In fact it is such high intensity training that it is recommended that you only do it once a week or even fortnightly.

Martial artist require the ability to produce short bursts of energy quickly to generate power and speed. Fast twitch fibres are needed for this type of muscular action and interval training is ideal for this. Kata also makes good interval training by the way.

Unlike aerobic training such as jogging where the fat burning abilities stop as soon as you stop running, tabata training is said to continue fat burning  for up to 2 days after the training session, so ideal for weight loss!

Sounds good doesn't it? I might give it a go. If you want to find out more about tabata training here's some links:


  1. Basketball ... ? Short burst of intense activity with a short duration of positive relaxation ... ?

  2. Not the way I play it Charles! Too short - no one wants me on their team :-(

  3. I teach a cardio kickboxing class at my kyokushin dojo. At the end of my Thursday night class we do tabatas. I have them punch the standing wavemaster bags for 20 seconds, followed by 10 second rest. ONE rule, no techniques, just beat the hell out of it. It is the hardest for the black belts to just hit and not add any thought to it. I am always telling one to stop with the fancy stuff :) I even made an MP3 with bells so I get to play instead of just watching the stop watch.


  4. Hi Patty, sounds like a great exercise. We sometimes do something similar with the punching pads - separates the men from the boys (and the women from the girls!)

  5. I've read about this but haven't been brave enough to try it yet! Let us know how you get on if you give it a bash.


  6. Marie, I'll let you know!

  7. It was my understanding that true Tabata training involved using one exercise that used major muscle groups using weights. (such as a squat) You'd repeat the same exercise for the required number of 'rounds' until you were done.

    This type of training is extremely taxing on the body. I might humbly suggest you not incorporate into your current training so close to your test, unless you plan on cutting back elsewhere.

    However, the mini circuit approach or the bag work mentioned by Patty is sort of a modified method for maximizing both anaerobic and aerobic activities so that would probably work well.

    If I'm incorrect on Tabata training, feel free to call me on it.

  8. Journeyman, I'm, sure you are correct, the concept of tabata training is new to me so you almost certainly know more about it than me. Don't worry, I won't be incorporating this into my training so close to my grading - I don't want to injure my leg again as much as anything!


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.