From last time, you remember that a Tabata Interval is 20 seconds of extremely intense exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated for seven to eight sets. This general method of training is also referred to as High-Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT. This method of training has been shown to increase both aerobic and anaerobic capacity, making it superior to traditional cardio that only benefits the former.
But how do you do them?
Using this type of training can be really simple, but I want to get one caveat out of the way first: like many things health and fitness, more does NOT equal better with HIIT training. Overdoing it with exercises like this can tax your adrenals beyond your capacity to recover, and the long-term effects can be downright dangerous.
The first step in creating a HIIT plan is to ask yourself the question, Should I be sprinting? While they can have some really powerful fat-burning effects, using sprints before you’ve developed at least some baseline fitness level can be just as damaging as overdoing it. Be honest with yourself, and if you feel you haven’t yet reached a level that would benefit from really intense exercise, don’t do it. Instead, keep up with your daily walking, proper nutrition, strength training, and, for the love of God, sleep.
If you are ready to add some huffing and puffing into your workouts, start small with maybe one day every other week. From there, you can progress to once every 10 days or so, and eventually once--maybe twice--per week.
Coming up with a HIIT workout is very easy: simply pick an exercise, set a timer (there are dozens, if not hundreds, of HIIT and Tabata timer apps available, many for free), and go for it!
As far as exercise selection goes, your safest bet is to choose something that requires little to no weight. Performing a Tabata Interval of heavy barbell back squats is a recipe for disaster.
And last thing - these are best left for the end of a workout. Not only will they leave you feeling pretty exhausted overall, but because of [long explanation about energy systems deleted] they will leave you less able to perform anaerobic exercise like lifting weights.
- Ask yourself, “Am I ready to add high-intensity routines into my workouts?”
- If the answer is Yes, remember that more is not always better.
- Start slow - add your high-intensity work in less often than you think you need and ramp up from there.