I am always doing things to “shake it up” in my workouts. Sometimes I am doing standard routines. Back and bi’s, chest and tri’s. I will do that for three or four weeks and then change it up again.
In the last few weeks, I started getting up around 6:30 in the morning (which I haven’t done for a while) and started doing “Tabata” training. The Tabata method was developed by Japanese scientist, Izumi Tabata. It involves doing eight sets of “all out” intensity cardio/callisthenic exercises, done in twenty second on/ten second off intervals. It takes all of four minutes to complete. His research found that athletes who utilized this method five days a week for six weeks experienced a greater increase in their aerobic fitness than athletes who performed moderately intense cycling for an hour during that same period. These same athletes also saw increases in their anaerobic capacity while the cyclists did not. The results sounded compelling so I decided that I would try this.
I figured that I had two things had to do before starting. The first was to choose my self-torture methods:
- Kettlebell swings (left hand)
- Kettlebell swings (right hand)
- Sumo jump squats (with kettlebell)
- Kettlebell clean and press (left hand)
- Cable rows in squat position
- Kettlebell clean and press (right hand)
- Hindu pushups
Next I needed a timer better than the simple timer I had in my basement gym. I downloaded an app for my iPhone called Seconds Pro. I found one that allows me to to type in the exercises, the time I want to perform them as well as the rest period between each exercise. As an added benefit, when starting the timer, it can be set to read aloud each exercise and the time I will perform it. The only funky thing about it is the robot voice that phonetically reads the routines. Otherwise it was the perfect tool for the job and well worth the 4 bucks I paid for it.
The first morning I went to attempt this, my first daughter who got up a few minutes before I did was already downstairs walking on the treadmill. I plugged my iPhone into the sound system and started the timer up. “Kettlebell swings right for 20 seconds…” in her best robotic voice, and my kettlebell is swinging. “3-2-1…Rest for 10 seconds…”. It was a short twenty seconds, but an even shorter ten seconds. “3-2-1…Mountainclimbers for 20 seconds…” and so it goes. And because I set it to the repeat the whole routine three times with a one-minute rest period between each complete Tabata set, at the end of my first set of Hindu push ups, little Miss Timer goes “3-2-1…Rest for one minute”. The best one minute ever.
At the end of the second Tabata set, I am breathing hard. Those exercises seemed so harmless when I started, now and I wondering what have I done. By the time I finish my third and final set, my heart is pounding and I am really huffing and puffing. I walk upstairs and when I see my wife, who is in her office, I can hardly talk. I felt like got hit by an invisible bus or something. I hydrated, washed up, and got dressed and started my day.
I would have thought that after a few periods of this, it would get easier. While I found that I could push the intensity a little harder each time, my heart still beats like crazy. I guess when I first read about the Tabata training, the intensity sounded so tough I thought it would be too tough to do.
I am enjoing doing these Tabatas, but the fact that I am able to complete three rounds of this grueling workout, leads me to wonder, am I really doing these as prescribed? Are these what Professor Tabata would have approved, or should I be wiped out after the four-minute workout?
What do you workout buffs think? Please respond!