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Where does TABATA come from?

What exactly are Tabata workouts? What is the Tabata protocol? Who came up with it?

The Tabata training method, also known as Tabata protocol is a type of high-intensity interval training which consists of alternating work and rest (20 seconds work, followed by 10 seconds rest) usually done for 7-8 rounds. A bit of history.. High-intensity training methods were already a thing from the 1930s. It wasn't something that athletes were not familiar with. In the 90s the Japanese Olympic speed skating team was coached by Mr. Koichi Irisawa. He had developed two high-intensity training techniques for his team. One was 6-7 bouts of high-intensity interval training of 20 seconds work and 10 seconds rest. The other was 4-5 bouts of 30 seconds high-intensity work with 2 minute rest periods. Mr. Irisawa was joined by Dr. Izumi Tabata to help him better prepare the team. Dr. Tabata conducted a study where he compared the two training methods used by Mr. Irisawa. The results? The first method proved to be more beneficial for both the anaerobic and aerobic systems.

The name?

It was named the Tabata protocol, even though Mr. Irisawa was the one who developed it.

Following studies

In the following years Dr. Tabata and his colleagues conducted more training experiments. For example in one of them where participants were split in two groups, one group performed sessions of 1 hour moderate-intensity endurance training on cycle ergometer 5 days a week for 6 weeks. The other group performed the exhausting intermittent training of 7-8 bouts of 20 seconds on - 10 seconds off, 5 days a week for 6 weeks. When comparing the results they observed that once again the Tabata protocol (20-10) was superior at improving both anaerobic and aerobic energy supplying systems compared to moderate-intensity training. Dr. Tabata advises that Tabata protocol is not for beginners but that doesn't mean you cannot do Tabata workouts. The subjects in his study performed at near maximal effort in those 20 second rounds. Beginners can begin at lower intensity and build that up with time. Just remember - Listen to your body! Thank you for reading. If you need a personal trainer in Zurich, get in touch. I would love to hear from you!


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