Why Should I Give a Crap About Tabata?

What the Hell is a Tabata anyway?

In 1996 Dr. Izumi Tabata went into the laboratory and built a strange machine began to study certain styles of exercise. He performed many experiments over many years on many different styles.

There is one particular style that we now refer to as Tabata because after all of his work this one showed the most significant progress in the bio-markers that he measured. Here it is.

Pick some kind of cardio machine (he used stationary bikes).
Warm up at a moderate intensity for about 10 minutes.
Put 4 minutes on the clock.
Find a pretty lady to smile at you encouragingly.

Ride like a mother fucker for 20 seconds.
Rest at a full stop for 10 seconds.
Repeat the 20/10 pattern for the full 4 minutes.
Fall to the floor in a pool of your own fluids.

What the Hell does it do?

It's super effective at improving metabolic markers. This includes, but is not limited to: increasing metabolism, lowering blood sugar, increasing oxygen uptake, strengthening your immune system, improving heart health, and that kind of stuff. Those improvements come on pretty quickly.

Keep in mind that although many folks talk about Tabata workouts as a method to burn fat, Doc T found no evidence in his studies that you can burn clinically significant amounts of fat from any form of exercise.

Some dickheads will say, "Uh, yeah, but you totally burn more calories." And that is factually accurate, but any FitPro that tells you that all you need to do to burn fat is to micromanage your calories, that asshole, that troglodyte, that sub-humanoid is not worth your time or money. Tell them to fuck back off to the 70's. And you can ask them that if burning calories results in burning fat, why did none of Doc T's subjects lose detectable amounts of fat after being in this super hard workout program for 6 weeks?

And then kick that dude in the nuts.

But really, why the Hell should I care?

In the world of exercise science we actually have very little high quality clinical evidence regarding the effects of specific workout programs. This style of 20/10 for 4 minutes is likely the best studied program that we have and the results are fantastic. Yes, more studies are being done all the time, but this one is the gold standard.

Keep in mind, those 20 seconds must be the highest intensity that you can pull from your gut. Everyone's high intensity is different. My highest might make you cry tears of pity, but that's doesn't matter. It's all about you. As you get better, your highest intensity will rise.

Also, if you do this (and you should) I recommend switching up the specific exercise. Bike, rowing machine, treadmill, whatever. You can also do burpees, medicine ball slams, break dancing six step, or whatever as long as you end up completely exhausted.

So, yeah. We know that this works.