Why Tabata Training is More Effective Than Traditional Cardio

by Jessica Smith for SHAPE.com

Why Tabata is king when it comes to cardio
Why Tabata is king when it comes to cardio

More good news for those of us short on workout time: A new study shows that Tabata definitely lives up to its reputation as a 4-minute fat-burning miracle workout.

In the study, participants performed 20 seconds of bodyweight squat jumps, then rested 10 seconds. They repeated this sequence eight times for a total of 4 minutes and ended up blasting away an average 13.5 calories per minute (some participants burned even more!) and doubling their metabolic rates for at least 30 minutes afterward.

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"This particular style of interval training has profound effects even on short-term post-exercise metabolism," says lead researcher Michele Olson, Ph.D., principle researcher at the Auburn University Montgomery Kinesiology Laboratory. "It would take five times the amount of typical cardio exercise to shed the same number of calories you can in a four-minute Tabata."

The important thing to note about Tabata is the intensity factor. We're not talking four minutes of brisk walking: You better be going "all out" in order to reap these amazing benefits. On a scale of one to 10, with 10 being maximal effort, subjects in the study performed at a 10 for the 20 seconds of work. "To burn major calories during and after, your metabolic rate needs to be very high on the interval effort scale since it is just four minutes of exercise," Olson says.

"I'm excited about this research; it adds to a growing body of evidence showing that high-intensity exercise is efficient and effective," says Liz Neporent, a certified fitness expert, board member for the American Council on Exercise, and co-author of Thin in 10. "This takes away the lack-of-time excuse for sure and proves you don't need any equipment or even a lot of space to get in shape. The high afterburn is a great bonus, plus it's a fun, versatile workout."

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To get the most out of your Tabata training, Olson recommends being thoroughly warmed up and prepared for the intensity, as well as using movements that are explosive and incorporate a lot of body mass in order to reach the maximum effort level necessary. In addition to squat jumps, sprint cycling, box jumps, stair running, and sprinting are other ways to get your Tabata on and achieve the calorie expenditure and afterburn reported in this study, Olson says.

So the next time you are ready to blow off your workout because of your busy schedule, skip the treadmill and crank out an intense 4-minute bout of Tabata instead for some seriously efficient fat-blasting, better-body benefits.

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