Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Why everyone does Tabata wrong

It took me about 30s on Google Image Search to find 3 terrible examples of Tabata
A pet peeve of ours is the misunderstanding of training methods and making changes to protocols to make things "harder" or "more extreme". The Tabata protocol is the best example of this. You can't go anywhere on the internet or to any functional-fitness style gym without seeing incorrectly applied Tabata.

Everyone thinks Tabata means work for 20 seconds and rest for 10 seconds 8 times. It really means go ALL OUT for 20 seconds and recover for 10 seconds 8 times. There's a difference. The spirit of Tabata is that those 4:00 are your workout. You shouldn't be able to do any more after that. Chaining a series of Tabata's is not a Tabata!

Why? Well, we need to go back to the original paper written by Dr. Tabata himself.  If you don't want to read it all, I'll quote from his abstract (emphasis mine):
The exhaustive intermittent training consisted of seven to eight sets of 20-s exercise at an intensity of about 170% of VO2max with a 10-s rest between each bout.
The protocol is to go at 170% (really hard!) until exhaustion.  Not 24 minutes of "HIIT". But that's not it, what was the purpose of the original Tabata - it wasn't to "feel the burn". Those 4:00 of all-out work actually train both the aerobic and anaerobic pathways better than traditional 70% long-duration work.  Also quoting from the paper:
In conclusion, this study showed that moderate-intensity aerobic training that improves the maximal aerobic power does not change anaerobic capacity and that adequate high-intensity intermittent training may improve both anaerobic and aerobic energy supplying systems significantly, probably through imposing intensive stimuli on both systems.
Does this invalidate our endurance program? No! The purpose of this study is to simply show that anaerobic work trains both aerobic and anaerobic capacity, but aerobic work doesn't improve anaerobic capacity. It's not a magic bullet that will tone and sculpt your muscles.

So when you look back at Monday's workout, you can see why we programmed only one Tabata (the thrusters), we wanted you to go really hard (to exhaustion!). Then we finished the day with some skill work, but there was no pressure on that part.  That's the spirit of what Dr. Tabata was going for.


press 3x5
2 pull-ups between sets


for a sense of urgency:
3 rounds:
7 double KB cleans
7 burpees
7 box jumps

Endurance Option

accumulate 15 presses at 5RM
2 pull-ups between sets


staying below AeroMAX:
3 rounds:
7 double KB cleans
7 push-ups
7 box step-ups

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