Friday, April 11, 2008

Tabata Intervals

An update on the Tabata intervals, which I blogged about here.

I sprained my knee a few weeks ago, unfortunately; I'm back to walking comfortably, but running still is painful. So I've been doing the Tabata regime for other exercises that aren't so high-impact (i.e., that don't require you to land with all your weight on one foot).

-- The exercise bike. This is very effective and intense, and can induce such oxygen debt that I have to lie down on the floor after I'm done; I can't even walk right away. So that's about perfect. In fact, the exercise bike is what Tabata himself used in his studies.

-- Tabata squats. I can get 20-22 squats per every 20 second interval. This is very intense on the thigh muscles, although the oxygen debt is not quite as severe. I've seen some of the CrossFit folks doing Tabata squats while making everyone rest by holding a squat position, rather than actual rest:

I very much disagree with this. It would increase the intensity on the thigh muscles, but as you can see from that video, most of the people are not able to do the actual squats at anything like a real sprint pace. But the whole point of Tabata intervals is to sprint all-out so that you exhaust both your aerobic and anaerobic capacities. If you get rid of rest periods and make the exercise even more intense on your muscles than it already is, then you'll end up slowing down so much that you simply won't be able hit your anaerobic peak. So it seems to me.

-- Burpees. Here's what that exercise looks like:

You start from a squatting position; kick back to a push-up position; kick back to the squatting position; and from there jump into the air as high as you can. Then repeat.

A lot of people do an actual push-up in there. I don't agree with this, at least not for the Tabata intervals. For me, a push-up slows things down, and gives my legs a momentary break from the all-out-sprint effect. Again, the point of Tabata intervals isn't to give all of your muscles a good work-out in one exercise; it's to push the pace to an all-out sprint and exhaust the anaerobic capacity.

The first time I tried Tabata burpees, I could only do 4 sets before staggering away gasping for breath. Now I'm up to 8 sets, but it's still very intense and keeps me out of breath for the next 10 or 15 minutes.

-- Deadlifts. I tried Tabata deadlifts with a 70-pound barbell. The entire back of my body was sore for days, except for the calves. That was all good, but I don't know that I'll ever try to do deadlifts in sprint-fashion again; it seems like it would be too easy to get sloppy and strain your back.


Blogger Don said...

"Burpees" look just like "Bends and Thrusts" that I had to do in the Marines while being thrashed in the sand pit by Drill Instructors. Except for the leaping in the air part. The objective of the DI was to get you into oxygen debt as rapidly as possible. So we would have to do bends and thrusts, mountain climbers, very fast as the DI is screaming at you. Rinse. Repeat. You would definitely be sucking wind. I even remember a DI walking around singing a song to the tune of "Camptown Races". "Bends and thrusts are good for us. Doo-dah. Doo-dah." Thanks for the memories. :o)


12:02 PM  
Blogger "Q" the Enchanter said...

For some reason I thought the burpees sequence included a leap up into the air.

Anyway, good work on your squat rate. 20-22. Wow!

11:27 AM  
Blogger "Q" the Enchanter said...

(Oh, now I see it does have the leap. Never mind...)

11:28 AM  

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