Dr. Izumi Tabata developed the High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT, exercise regimen known as the Tabata Protocol while serving as head coach for the Japanese speed skating team. A Tabata workout consists of alternating short periods of intense exercise with short periods of rest for a period of 3 to 4 minutes. A wide variety of exercises are compatible with the Tabata protocol, including resistance exercises such as lifting weights and aerobic exercises such as running or rowing.
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Fat Loss through Increased Metabolic Rate
Intense exercise raises our metabolic rate to about 15 times the basal metabolic rate, or BMR. The Tabata method puts short-lived but acute stress on the body. When these intense exercises occur on a regular basis, the body increases its BMR to handle the new demands put on it. Since the BMR is the amount of energy your body burns while at rest, any increase to this rate increases the fat that your body burns even when you are not exerting yourself.
Muscle Tissue Retention
Dieting as a means to weight loss often causes loss of muscle tissue. The Tabata method of HIIT places stress on muscle tissue, which tells your body that more muscle tissue is needed. As a result, the ratio of your lean body mass to fat goes up, and by choosing exercises that maximize the muscle mass worked, muscle tissue may increase.
Anaerobic and Aerobic Capacity Increase
The body’s aerobic capacity, also called its maximum oxygen uptake, is the greatest amount of oxygen it consumes when strenuously exercising. Anaerobic capacity is the maximum amount of energy that can be produced by the body in the absence of oxygen. This anaerobic energy is produced by burning carbohydrates when there is insufficient oxygen in the bloodstream to produce the required energy aerobically.
A study by Dr. Tabata showed that using his method five days a week for six weeks produced a 14 percent increase in the participants’ aerobic capacity and a 28 percent increase in their anaerobic capacity. This provides a decided increase in stamina.
The short duration of a Tabata workout increases an individual’s willingness and faithfulness to work out regularly. It would be difficult to deny 4 to 8 minutes a day to your physical fitness. In addition, safety requires close attention to your body’s feedback when you exercise intensely. This enhances interest in the changes that the exercise routine is making in your body, and increased interest removes the drudgery of an exercise routine.
The Tabata method is very demanding and should not be done too frequently. The typical recommendation is for one or two Tabata workouts per week. As is true for any strenuous exercise a warm-up routine is advisable. This method is intended for use by those who have already achieved some level of physical fitness and should not be used by those new to fitness regimens. You should consult your doctor about whether this type of training is advisable for you.