Tabata training—a protocol in which 20 seconds of high-intensity activity are followed by 10 seconds of rest, with that cycle repeating for 4 minutes—could be considered one of the earlier versions of high-intensity interval training. Researchers from Auburn University in Montgomery, Alabama, recently looked at Tabata training to determine its effectiveness.
Led by Michele Olson, PhD, FACSM, professor of exercise science at the university, the small study involved 15 individuals (12 women, 3 men) whose caloric expenditure was measured before, during and 30 minutes after a Tabata workout. Results showed that participants burned 13.5 calories per minute. Olson also discovered that at the 30-minute mark, each individual’s metabolic rate was double what it had been before the workout.
“This particular particular style of interval training has profound effects even on short-term, postexercise metabolism,” Olson explained. “It would take five times the amount of typical cardio exercise, like a 20-minute brisk walk, to shed the same number of calories that [are burned in] a 4-minute Tabata.”
Want to introduce Tabata to your clients?
Here are Olson’s tips for a safe and successful training session:
- Be sure everyone is sufficiently warmed up.
- Use exercises or equipment that rely on large muscle groups; examples include jump squats or a stationary bicycle.
- Use modifications like body weight squats or treadmill walking at a brisk pace for less fit individuals.
- For new participants, start with four or six rounds, working up to the full eight.
The research was presented at the 60th annual conference of the American College of Sports Medicine and the fourth annual World Conference on Exercise. An abstract was published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise (2013; 45 , S421).