Fit Update: Week 12 aka Tabata Time!

April 1, 2013 by Michelle

I was at Blissdom a week ago, and I had an absolute blast.  Not only did I meet some great people and hang with my peeps that I already know and love, but I learned a lot, too.  For example, my camera is now on manual.  Finally.  And best of all, I worked out while I was there and have a new favorite.  I generally try to sign up for fitness classes while at conferences because I need them – and I get to experience workouts I otherwise might not.

While I might have wanted to die during parts of the classes that Soybu’s Rachel Canella led on Friday and Saturday, I’m so glad I took them.  She is incredibly intense and umm perky in the morning.  You know I love classes, and circuit training and dance classes are my thing.  I didn’t know what Rachel was going to offer, and the first day was all about intervals in a circuit class that kicked my tail – partly because I had forgotten to eat anything before doing it, which is a big no no for me personally.

Day 2 introduced the concept of Tabata to me.  And I’m in love.  It’s the circuit training taken to a whole new level.  The concept was developed by Dr. Izumi Tabata that is supposed to increase the effect of exercise and allow everyone to do it faster.  It’s intense, and there’s no getting around that, but it is also meant to be done in four minutes – and you can do anything for four minutes, right (as Rachel continually reminded us)?

It’s designed to have twenty seconds of pushing your whole body as hard as you can – not one body part like a static pushup, but a whole body movement like burpees that incorporate the pushup – and then ten seconds of rest, repeated for four minutes, with exercises varying during that four minute period.  Dr. Tabata has researched this and found that the four minutes of intense exercise like this is more effective than much longer periods of more “normal” exercise.

He was working with the Japanese sped skating team in the 1990s when he noticed that the speed skaters were getting impressive results with really intense but short periods of exercise, more so than traditional training methods.  When he conducted research on it, he found that after six weeks, a group that did the Tabata method fincreased their anaerobic capacity by 28% compared to the control group that didn’t change their anaerobic capacity at all.

The best part?  The calories you burned doing the Tabata regimen (and hello, going all out isn’t exactly insignificant) continue after you’re complete.  You burn another 150 calories in the 12 hours after your exercise, which helps burn more fat, too.  To me, there really isn’t a downside, and it takes away any excuse I have to not exercise because who can’t find four minutes in their day?

Tabata countdown timer

This doesn’t mean that I won’t do any other exercise, and Dr. Tabata doesn’t recommend doing just Tabata either – it’s meant to accompany other forms of exercise, like the dance classes or cardio kickboxing classes I so love.

And yes, I can do this at home.  There are a bunch of Tabata apps available, and Rachel highly recommended the Tabata Pro ($2.99), which we used during class.  I loved to blinking colors to help me notice when it was getting close to time to start again or time to end.  There are other apps that also help create the intervals to give you an idea of what exercises to do, and I’m a fan of Workout Trainer for this (free and a $14.99 annual or $6.99 monthly subscription for the Pro version).  I love being able to sort my exercises by intensity and time and area covered, etc.

So yes, I’m working on doing classes again and staying fit there, but Tabata is my new friend – and I can’t wait to see the effects I have after doing it regularly for six weeks.  What’s your new favorite workout?

(And no, none of this is sponsored or paid or asked for or anything.)


  • Pat

    Tabata sounds like the perfect calorie burner for the busy person! I probably won’t do it because my heart rate goes really high really quickly with just fast walking. Going by what fitness “experts” say, a person should not exceed a maximum heart rate determined by this math: 80% of 200 minus your age. For me (age 65), that would be 108, which I reach after 5 minutes of fast walking. When I did a treadmill test, the health tech commented on how quickly my heart rate increased. He said it’s probably because I have a small heart (how sad :^( to be told you have a small heart). My heart rate slowed back down reasonably quickly, too. I have a 4-cylinder heart and Jerry has a 6-cylinder one.

    Too much information, I know.

Leave a Comment

Your email is never shared.
Required fields are marked *