High Intensity Interval Training & Tabata protocol

Get more from your workout
– HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and Tabata Protocol

Dr. Dawn X. Liu, Ph.D., D.C., L.Ac.; Dr. Anna Phillips, D.C., M.Sc.

The spring season is here, and many of you are working out harder than ever to get that beach body ready for the showcase time in Summer! As we are passionate about our own health here at Action, I thought I’d share some additional insight you may want to include in your own workouts.

Did you know we work with athletes of all types and find that most are looking for one of the two focuses which are:

    1. Information for good workouts that burn fat and build muscle
    2. Ways to substantially improve your performance

There are so many tools and new ways to twist your current workout. These variations can spice up your general routine.

HIIT, or High Intensity Interval Training is one way. By definition, it is an enhanced form of interval training, an exercise strategy alternating periods of short intense anaerobic exercise with less-intense recovery periods.

The famous Tabata protocol forming the basis for the modern High intensity interval training workout are from the Tabata study in 1996 published in “Effects of moderate-intensity endurance and high-intensity intermittent training on anaerobic capacity and VO2max” by Nishimura K, Kouzaki M, et al.

What is the Tabata Protocol about?

The key here is to “go all out” for 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds of rest. There are effective variations of the period of “all out” intense exertion and the recovery period. Studies have shown that the 20 second / 10 second, 30 second / 30 second, 20 second / 20 second combinations all work well. The key elements are to go high intensity / “all out” for short, specified period of time (20 or 30 seconds) with a short period of recovery (10 to 30 seconds). Then this cycle is repeated for 8 times. You can see that following the original Tabata protocol of 20 second /10 second of all out / recovery, the entire workout only takes 4 minutes! Yet, these 4 minutes have been reported as some of the toughest 4 minutes of workout by many athletes who tried it the first time.

What are the results?

“You push your heart and develop an increase in both your aerobic and anaerobic threshold significantly.”

“An increased capacity for performance in less time.”

How can you benefit from it?

Since the Tabata protocol has been used and adapted for many types of exercises, you can be creative on what to apply it for. It makes a good “special sauce” to spice up the routine of exercise you already have or prefer.

For example, you can do this on stationary bike, with jump rope, or use this on your track workout. Be aware, this is different from the traditional distance based track workout, like 12x400m repeats, which are also great types of high intensity interval workouts. The Tabata protocol track workout is time based, but is still best done on the track to minimize distractions or sudden stops to keep the 20/10 intervals intact.

This type of workout is especially good if you find yourself short on time. Runners have reported that their legs feel completely “trashed” after the workout, yet after repeating this a few times, they found that their endurance for longer distances like 5k to 10k gets better, and especially they feel their legs feel much less fatigued.

Additional Progress Options

Once you are adapted to the initial workout, there are many ways to further your progress. After you are able to carry out the 4 minute (8 repeats or 20/10) workout without feeling disabled, you can start to take 1 minute break, then repeat the 4 minutes workout again, or do a different set of exercise in the same fashion for 4 minutes. Then this cycle can go on with your progression! This way you are able to do useful combinations of workouts to work different body areas!

Advantages and Flexibility of HIIT:

You can do most of your current regimen in HIIT fashion. You will:

  1. Have more time
  2. Get more out of your routine
  3. And since HIIT causes systematic oxygen debt to your body (your body consumes too much in that short period of time), your metabolism is increased for the next 24-48 hours due to increased respiratory rate, you will increase your fat burning for the next day or two as well!
  4. You can, and should take breaks for 2-3 days before your next session, and still enjoy the benefit!

Caution: Good Form needed!

Be aware this high speed workout requires you to already have good form on the workout you choose to apply the HIIT / Tabata protocol to, or you are injuring yourself. Poor form tends to get reinforced during the high intensity bursts, so you want to make sure you start on sound ground. We are experts at evaluating optimal body function for such workouts. If you have questions to ensure you remain injury free and that your form and mechanics are sound, call one of the doctors at our clinic for a biomechanical evaluation!

We will keep you in your preferred workout injury free! Call us at (858) 481-1438 for your personal phone consultation!

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