If you’ve been a part of they 8fit community for some time, you already know that HIIT workouts are our favorite kind of workouts for a number of reasons. HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training, which is essentially intense bursts of exercise followed by lower intensity or rest intervals. These lower intensity intervals allow your body to recover a bit before starting the next high-intensity interval.
HIIT workouts are designed to challenge the body by elevating your heart rate quickly, then keep it up for the duration of the workout. No matter your fitness level, you’ll find HIIT workouts challenging because they are meant to be completed at an all-out, maximum effort.
In this article, we’ll give you an advanced Tabata workout (a style of HIIT) to try at home. But before we do, let us explain why we love HIIT so much.
Why HIIT is effective?
High-intensity interval workouts are one of the best ways to burn calories, increase cardiorespiratory and pulmonary health, and improve overall fitness in the shortest amount of time. This kind of training is perfect for the swamped student, the nine-to-fiver who works well past five, the busy mom, the person without a gym membership, the exercise newbie — so, pretty much everyone.
In addition to its health benefits, another great thing about HIIT workouts is the customizability and variety. You can do these high-intensity workouts with bodyweight exercises to increase your muscular strength and endurance, utilize weights if you are experienced enough to do so, or even complete them in the form of sprints or other cardio exercises. The possibilities are endless, meaning you can perform a HIIT workout every day of the year and never do the same workout twice. Goodbye, workout boredom.
What is the Tabata workout?
One of our favorite — and certainly very versatile — forms of HIIT workouts are the Tabata. Developed in Japan back in 1996 by Dr. Izumi Tabata while working with the Japanese Olympic speed skating team. Dr. Tabata and his colleagues studied the athletes as they utilized a number of performance training methods and concluded that this high-intensity style of HIIT training is much more effective at increasing both aerobic and anaerobic system capacities compared to moderate-intensity training methods (steady state 60 minutes).
So, unlike other varieties of HIIT-style workouts, the Tabata style has been put through the rigors of scientific testing, as well as peer review, and come out on top as an extremely effective method.
Tabata workouts consist of 20-second intervals of high-intensity exercise followed by a 10-second rest interval for a total of eight rounds or four minutes. All eight rounds feature the same exercise and are to be performed at maximum effort. You might see other forms of the Tabata method out there that alternate exercises each round, but the true format — and most challenging one — is the original method of doing the same exercise for several rounds, then doing multiple Tabata routines in a row to target different muscles groups.
Tabata: A workout for all levels
Like we said, this four-minute workout is meant to be performed at maximum effort and since each person’s “maximum effort” is relative, it’s a great workout for the inexperienced newbie and the professional athlete. No matter your fitness level, you’ll be exhausted and completely out of breath after just four minutes if you did it correctly.
Correctness, in this case, has two components:
- First and foremost is proper form. While completing the exercises, your body should be in perfect form — especially because the exercises are performed with speed and intensity. This will help reduce the potential for injury
- Second to form is that speed and intensity. You should push your limits to the max here and really give it your all. Finish every 20-second round with the same intensity you started with in order to improve your body’s respiratory and cardiovascular capacities
Apart from the physical benefits, this method of exercise helps increase your confidence level because you’ll see that, yes, your body can handle it.
Customize your workout
Once you become confident and have that “Yes, I can!” moment, you’ll see that you can apply any exercise to the Tabata format — push-ups, squats, burpees, sprints, you name it. When creating your own workout and choosing which exercises to do in Tabata workouts, there are a couple of things to look for. First, it’s best to combine compound exercise movements, i.e. ones that incorporate more than one muscle group or joint to challenge your aerobic and anaerobic system as much as possible.
Another great tip is choosing exercises that challenge you personally. If push-ups are difficult,do them as a Tabata. The reason for this is that the number of reps performed while completing a Tabata workout is generally high, thus creating a stronger neurological connection between the brain and the muscles, increasing the coordination it takes to complete the movement.
Advanced Tabata workout
All things said and done, the purpose of this article is to: 1. Promote the amazing world of Tabata workouts and, 2. Offer you a more advanced Tabata workout to try.
This advanced Tabata routine features four exercises, i.e. four Tabatas, totaling 16 minutes of work. The last exercise of the workout involves a high degree of metabolic conditioning (metcon) — think, burpees — to end the workout completely out of breath and maximize the EPOC effect (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption).
Keep in mind that these exercises are for more advanced 8fitters who have perfected the proper. Complete each exercise as it’s own Tabata — eight rounds of 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest.
Tabata #1: Pull over
How to: Begin on all fours with knees and hips align, then place your hands on a towel directly under the center of your chest. Engage your core and slowly slide your arms as far forward as possible. Hold for a brief second, then slide your arms back to start position.
Tabata #2: Diamond push-ups
How to: Place your hands on the floor with your index fingers and thumbs touching to form a diamond shape. Step your legs back to a plank position. Tense every muscle in your body to form a straight line from your head to your heels. Lower your chest to touch the floor with your elbows tight to your body. Straighten your arms to push your body back to start position.
Tabata #3: Hollow rocks
How to: Lie on your back with your lower back pressed to the floor, arms extended by your ears and your legs straight. Life your arms and legs off the floor and begin rocking back and forth maintaining your form.
Tabata #4: Burpees
How to: Begin standing, then squat down and place your hands on the floor outside of your feet. Keeping your hands planted, jump your feet back to a plank position. Lower down until your chest touches the floor with elbows tight to the body. Press up and use your hips to pop your feet back into a squat, then explode up into a jump and land on your feet as softly as possible.
We recommend doing this more advanced Tabata workout twice per week with some days in between in order to get the results you’re looking for and to allow for proper recovery. Always listen to your body, pushing your limits but not overdoing it.
If you’re new to HIIT training, sign up for 8fit and start your workout program today.