Tabata – practical tips


Tabata is a popular and fashionable training medium. How and when to use it? The content of the article analyzes various aspects of this effort and answers key questions of its practical application.


  1. Tabata – what is it?

Tabata is an effort lasting 20 seconds, repeated 8 times, with a 10 second rest time between repetitions. The method of such a 4-minute training was developed in 1996 by a Japanese doctor, Dr. Izumi Tabata. In order to visualize the proposed formula of effort, we must delve into its details.



  1. Exercise interval

Tabata is an exercise interval of 20 seconds followed by a 10-second regeneration interval. Like every training device of this type, it has a part of a very intense effort and insufficient rest time. Another repetition of the exercise interval cumulates the fatigue of effort in the previous period.



  1. Interval Tabata – what does it look like?

You can meet different ways of doing an intense effort. It is not just about choosing the exercise, but the method of charging the body. The goal is maximum effort, the highest intensity. It can be triggered by skilfully selected exercises with a load on one’s own body. The number of repetitions, depending on the exercise, can reach up to 15 and more in 20 seconds.

People choosing such a load path in the exercise interval will try to do the exercise very quickly. If they are simple exercises, such as squats, they should not have any problems with maintaining the correct technique.

Another method is the extra load on the body so that no more than 8 repetitions can be performed. It is necessary to start with the weight of the load, that is, from a minimum of 20% of CM (maximum weight, which we can, for example, lift). If within 20 sec. last series we are able to do more than 8 repetitions of exercise with a load, we should increase the weight in the next workout.



  1. The purpose of the exercise interval of tabata

The goal of the exercise interval is the maximum or submaximal effort. Tabata is a very intense and very short workout. The effort below the aforementioned intensities is a waste of time. Why? Moderate efforts will not sufficiently involve anaerobic transitions. Engaging only with oxygen metabolism, they will be too short to induce a significant training effect in this area.


  1. Selection of exercises

The possible intensity achieved will depend to a large extent on the selection of the exercise. To fulfill its role, it should involve large and many muscle parties. 20 seconds of exercise interval can not be a waste of time. From the first repetitions one has to create conditions for intensification of processes happening in the body. Ideally, these are global processes.


The desired intensity will then be gained. Exercises on a local scale, in addition involving small muscle groups, will not meet this goal. Therefore, bending elbows in a standing or sitting position, which activates only the biceps, will not be a good exercise for tabata. It is another thing to jump out, grip the rod and pull on it – it will activate the muscles of the lower limbs, the rectifiers of the hip joint, the widest dorsal muscle and biceps. The landing hill can be combined with a pump. Then all the muscles of the body really work.



  1. Number of exercises

The training formula assumes the selection of 1 to 8 different exercises. When deciding on one exercise, remember to choose the one that meets the requirement of global impact. By choosing more, eg 4 exercises performed twice, you can take into account the proportionality of the impact on all large muscle groups.



  1. Selection of additional load

The introduction of additional load in tabata training increases the impact on the strength component, increases the muscle tone and the effect of anaerobic exercise. The size of the selected weight has a very large impact on the quality of the training.

The introduction of additional weight limits the number of possible repetitions of the exercise. The weight being lifted must, however, be chosen individually, on the basis of the maximum weight that a particular person has in a given exercise he is able to defeat. The same 10 kg plate a person with a higher maximum strength will increase a greater number of times. It may turn out that in the tabitu exercise, in the last 20 seconds, the last reps will be done with too much reserve.

For a person who has a low maximum strength, a weight of 10 kg may be too high a load, which as a result of fatigue accumulation, is able to beat 2-3 times in a tab. The effort then has signs of an effort to raise the maximum weight, is highly anaerobic and interrupts tabata training too early.

Therefore, it is good to estimate the weight percentage in relation to the maximum force. The minimum ceiling of 20-30% CM (maximum weight) is important. Weights below this level do not make a difference between those who are stronger and weaker. This means that the weaker person in absolute parameters, but durable, it can do as many repetitions of a given exercise as a person with greater maximum strength. At 20-30% CM, the magnitude of the voltage is so noticeable that it makes a difference between them.


  1. Selection of exercise with additional load

Tabata is made according to the scenario of short effort and short rest. Both periods should be used properly. 20 seconds for effort, 10 seconds for rest. Therefore, it is important, especially in exercises with additional load, to approach, start and finish the exercise.

If someone is planning to bend forward with the barbell on the shoulders in a tab, it will have to lift the barbell, properly put it on shoulders and set a stable position. It will take a few seconds before it does. It will be either a rest time or exercise time. The effort will be reduced to several non-metabolic repeats.

It will be much wiser to prepare the right kettl weight and perform swingi¬† – kettel’s thrusts ahead with simultaneous straightening of the whole body silhouette from the semi-squat. Set on the floor at the proper distance from the legs the weight will cause that after grasping it, you will immediately be able to swing back and perform the exercise. It will take a second to start the exercise.


  1. Tabata and safe exercises

Both taking the starting position for exercises with additional load, as well as putting the weight after exercise should take about a second and be safe. All kinds of dropping the barbells from the shoulders with overhead etc. is not a good solution. The same applies to the location of the place of exercise. When the stands are close to each other, we eliminate the element of rush, which, especially in the conditions of increasing fatigue, may result in inadvertent and accidental injury.

Exercises performed in a tab should be simple, and the more complex ones well mastered. When an exercise is technically difficult, it is easy to make a mistake, which, especially when using an extra load, can result in injury.


  1. Comparison with HIT and HIIT

Tabata exercises should be selected in a manner that at the same time guarantees safety and appropriate level of effort. Tabata is not HIT training (high intensity training), which consists in very meticulous observance of the quality and time of the concentric, isometric and eccentric phases of muscle work. In the table, the attention is directed more towards the context of the high pace of the exercise

Tabata is one of the methods of HIIT (high intensity interval training). One of its features is the achievement of maximum or close to maximum (90-100%) values ??in the amount of oxygen intake during exercise. This information becomes an important indicator of intensity control and thus the quality of training tabata.


  1. A way to control the intensity of effort

Having a heart rate monitor and designated effort zones, you can by trial and errors select the intensity of tabata so that the scope of work takes place in the effort zone above the anaerobic threshold. In tabata, the effort should ultimately target maximum oxygen uptake. This means that it should be an effort above the threshold of anaerobic transformation.

At the threshold of anaerobic transformation, about 50-60% of maximum oxygen uptake is consumed most frequently. The best athletes of endurance disciplines can use up to 95% on this threshold. In the tab, the goal is a supra-threshold effort, which will be much closer to the submaximal and maximum oxygen uptake values.

By ending the tabata with deep and strong breath with the simultaneous ability of relatively free speech, you most probably work at the threshold of anaerobic transitions of medium intensity. Some athletes can maintain the intensity of such an effort for an hour. To get closer to the HIIT exercise parameters, you should have a shortness of breath at which you can not talk.


  1. Impact on energy systems

Tabata training affects both energy systems of the body’s energy – oxygen and anaerobic. It leads to a large oxygen debt, which must be paid off after the training. Then, oxygen intensification and the use of fat as an energy source are intensified. Tabata is therefore good for fat burning.


  1. Warming up

The fact that the training lasts only 4 minutes becomes a myth when one takes into account the fact that it must be preceded by a warm-up. Tabata is the maximum effort. This means that the body systems and organs achieve the highest functional working ceilings. The time to reach these ceilings is different for systems and organs. Pain in the region of the liver, spleen during exercise without a sufficient warm-up indicates lack of synchronization of organ readiness for work.

Systems and organs best increase their readiness to work with little intensive but continuous effort. That should be the general part of the warm-up. Then, practice the scheduled exercises, do them fewer times or with more rest. Yes, to wipe the pathways of neuromuscular stimulation for the proper technique of doing exercises.

It’s good that this part of the warm-up has already launched the anaerobic transformation system. The intensity of the warm-up should affect the range of work on the threshold of anaerobic transformation (deep and strong breath) or even exceed it. In this way, we will ease the stress response of the body to an anaerobic effort.


  1. Tabata without warming up

What will the tabata look like? It can be interrupted due to failure of some organs and pain. It always gives you fear. It can be done to the very end, but it turns out that the heart rate has reached at most the threshold of anaerobic transitions and this in the last exercises.

After a weak and short warm-up, such a tabata at most can be the complement of the warm-up. In the next, after 2-3 minutes of rest, 90-100% of the maximum oxygen uptake can be achieved.



  1. The first exercise

At the outset, it should be noted that the human body always uses all energy systems, but to a different degree. It depends on the intensity and the duration of the effort. In the first exercise, the dominant tabta is the anaerobic energy production process associated with the breakdown of phosphocreatine accumulated in cells. This energy is enough for no more than ten seconds of effort.


Can phosphocreatine be restored during the tabata treatment? Energy resources related to this process are being rebuilt within 30 seconds of renewal, approximately 50 percent. The 10-second intervals in the tab do not provide this. So, phosphocreatine resources can be considered as a used source of energy.


  1. Anaerobic glycolysis

During the first exercise, another anaerobic process is started, which is anaerobic glycolysis. As a result, muscle glycogen breaks down into glucose. Energy-giving lactic acid and ATP molecules are formed. Anaerobic glycolysis develops more slowly than the phosphokinase reaction. Its maximum intensity can be seen within 1-2 minutes of work.

During the second and third exercise, anaerobic glycolysis covers up to 60% of the energy expended. After 2 minutes, its share drops to around 35%. The energy demand for the working organism must already be covered by the developing next energy supply system to the body.


  1. Oxygen glycolysis

By the halfway point, tabates oxygen processes have little contribution to energy production. Their share, however, is growing. Lung ventilation increases. Breath becomes deeper and deeper until it finally begins to deflate, which means that the threshold of anaerobic transitions is exceeded. If the exercises are well matched and the intensity is maintained, the last minute of tabata is close to the maximum oxygen uptake.


If the exercises are too easy, the body reaches at most the threshold of anaerobic transitions, with increased, but not maximum, or submaximal, oxygen uptake. A significant increase in oxygen metabolism in 3-4 minute effort is associated with oxygen glycolysis. Energy provides the body with the process of breaking down glycogen into glucose and generating energy from glucose using oxygen


  1. When is energy derived from fat?

Fats are used to produce energy only through oxygen, but not on the way as intense and short as the tabata effort. Fat burning is best done in the training zone of moderate intensity and during long, continuous efforts. Lipolysis, the formation of energy (ATP) from fat with the participation of oxygen is initiated significantly after about 15-20 minutes of such effort. Tabata does not initiate it, because the effort is too short and intense. The main source of energy is muscular glycogen.


Fat burning follows after training. If it was carried out in high intensity, anaerobic processes that were dominant in such an effort, they caused oxygen debt. Energy that has been produced with oxygen deficiency must be returned to the body. This process takes place already with the participation of oxygen, in rest conditions after exercise.


An increase in metabolism beyond the normal level requires energy, which the body derives mainly from fat burning. Thanks to this energy, the products of anaerobic metabolism are removed from the body, and the state of the systemic balance is restored. This fat burning takes up to several hours after training and is one of the best ways to get rid of excess.


  1. Tabata – next series

After 2-3 minutes of rest after tabata, the body renews in approximately 95% of ATP and phosphocreatine resources. The condition of resynthesis of energy resources is the level of glycogen in the muscles. If enough of it has been stored, appropriate training and nutrition, it will be possible to make another tabata of appropriate intensity.


Glycogen deficiencies will result in lower intensity of exercise, which will reduce the effect of training. Repeat tabata is a struggle with increasing fatigue. The accumulation of lactic acid, the increase in hydrogen protons, increases the acidification of the blood. The feeling of burnout and infirmity arises.

The result of this repeated effort will be largely determined by the level of training, body tolerance for acidification and speed the occurrence of biological regeneration processes after exercise. The next tabata is usually performed after 30 seconds or 1 minute of rest.


  1. When to use tabata?

The body should be gradually prepared for work of the highest intensity. A proper training plan is needed, which in turn will prepare the efficiency of energy systems, organs and systems for intensive work. Tabata will be included in the calendar of the developed training plan after a period of work on increasing the efficiency of oxygen metabolism and continuous work

Gradually incorporated training measures in the form of intervals and an increase in the intensity of effort over the threshold of anaerobic transformation will safely prepare the body for tabata. Thanks to this, the workout will have the intensity and effect assumed. An adequate level of body renewal after exercise will also be achieved.

Posted on: November 13, 2018

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