TABATA The 4 minute workout  

Posted by FLATOUT JIM in

TABATA Training, THE ABSOLUTE LATEST and GREATEST. I thought HIT was the latest training BUZZ word, but While researching interval training, I stumbled on TABATA.

I first came on it from Nikemom at Adventure Then when I started to dig a little I found more and more information.

What is it?

This is like High Interval Training on steroids. And from what I have been able to find out, it’s not a fly by night phenomenon. This is totally legit. This is not Tai Bo, or Bow Flex. It is a high intensity interval training session developed for fit high performance athletes.

The program was named after Dr. Izumi Tabata, and The Globe and Mail has reported that it was developed for the Japanese Speedskating Team. This Health article includes links to 7 research articles on this type of training, 3 from MacMaster University.

The Protocol

The protocol is simple. A 4 minute workout done as 20 seconds high intensity, 10 seconds rest, 8 times for a total of 4 minutes. There seems to be no limit on the exercise used, and I have a short list below. it just has to be ulta ultra high intensity. In fact, the descriptions I have read describe HARD AS YOU CAN GO for 20 seconds.

To aid in timing the intervals there is even a TABATA timing APP for your ipod touch, or iphone. How serious is that.

The Pitch

The web seems to be full of web sites, blogs and online articles about Tabata. It seems like most articles seem to pitch this as the answer for time crunched dieters. “Not enough time to workout, this 4 minute routine might be the answer” How many articles have I read that started out like that.

Again, this is high intensity stuff, and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Dragging your ass off the couch and into the basement with a stopwatch, and diving right into the first 20 second set is only inviting trouble. To be done properly, a very thorough warmup needs to be done to be sure the blood is pumping, and the muscles are warm.

Warm Up

I read one time that the shorter and more intense the effort, the longer the warmup. That’s why marathoners will do about 10 to 15 minutes low intensity jogging with a few sets of strides, while sprinters preparing for the 100 metres at a track meet will warm up for almost an hour or more. Based ion this, I see at least a 10 to 20 minute warm up with lots of movement, and a few decent efforts to get the body going, and another 5 to 10 minute cool down after, or your body will seize up. Now that 4 minutes looks more like a 30 minute complete session.

Workout Ideas

Bicep curls, or crunches won’t get the job done. To get the full effect, you need compound multi muscle exercises like burpees, or thrusters (See Video At Top) My wife did a session yesterday where she did a thruster with a bicep curl during the squat phase. The session can be done with 1 exercise for all 8 intervals, or a combination of several.
Here are 10 ideas.

1. Front squats. With or without weights.
2. Thrusters - Squat and shoulder Press, as seen in the video at top. Add a bicep curl.
3. Sit up Vee up. This from P90X Ab Ripper X
4. Burpees. Quick is the key.
5. Squat Thrust. Best done on hardwood with a towel under the toes. Again FAST
6. Pushups. 10 in 20 seconds won’t do it. FAST
7. Mason Twists. With a small weight or medicine ball.
8. Pull Ups. As with push ups, FAST is key.
9. Mary Katherine Lunges. Another P90X favorite.
10. Plank Running.

For Triathletes
I can see serious benefits for triathletes. This works extremely well on the track for running speed sessions or on the trainer sessions for cycling.

This would also work well in the pool. At our last masters workout, we did 4 x 50 for time, I was just under 40 seconds on each. That means I should be close to 20 seconds for 25m. So after a 10 to 15 minute warm up, and maybe a 10 minute easy form and/or drill set, The Tabata would be done as 8 x 25 on 30 second intervals. So if I could complete the 25 in 20 seconds, I get 10 rest.

Final thoughts

This protocol differs from typical interval sessions where the rest period is quite long, and that’s what makes it different. Here is a list of my GOOD and BAD.

Promotes Speed
Relatively Quick, 4 minutes for the interval set.
Burns fat like crazy. No low intensity fat burning zone here.
Stimulates Aerobic as well as Anerobic improvements.

Easy to get lazy. The exercises have to be hard. 20 seconds of picking your nose won’t do it.
Easy to get injured. A thorough warmup is a must
Misleading Time Duration. With a proper warmup and cool down, this session should be more like 20 to 30 minutes.
HARD. Done right, these should be hard. Remember they were designed for high performance athletes. The 20 second intervals should feel like 20 minutes. The 10 second rest should feel like 2 seconds.

Other Links

An article in The Globe and Mail on Tabata


Here is another article that explains the protocol, and includes a video of a Kettle exercise

And more ideas and pictures here at TMuscle

Nikemom at Adventure

Ironman Australia by Andreas Doerig  

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Thats Andreas on the left, and Ginny on the right. The guy in the middle is some pro from Australia.

Today, I point you to a blog by a friend of mine.

Andreas and Ginny were CFA’s (Come From Aways) who moved to Newfoundland and immersed themselves into the local active community. They skied, snowshoed, ran, cycled, swam, and did all the local triathlons.

Then a couple of years ago, they returned home to Toronto, but kept in touch with their friends on the rock.

On Sunday, Andreas completed Ironman Australia. When you live in Canada, training for an early season race of any distance is challenging, but training through a wet cold fall and winter to prepare for a full Ironman in March where the course is fairly tough, and the temperatures can creep up into the high 20’s and low 30’s is monumental.

Congratulations Mate! Have a safe trip home.

Musical Mondays U2 Streets have no name  

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Another one to get you going on a Monday Morning. When this first came out, few of my buddies even realized it was a take off of the old Beatles video where they played on the roof of Abby Road Studios.

This tune always makes me want to go fast.

Friday Funnies, Spring and Easter  

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Anyone with an insatiable chocolate appetite, Have a gander at this!


While searching for spring season humour, I came across this. Had to include it.

OK maybe some girls pad for their SPRING prom! Too much of a stretch?

VDOT Score and Run Training  

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During my google research for information on HIT training, (my last post) I came across some information on VDOT scores, and run training using that score.

I dug a little deeper, and was unable to find a clear definition of the term VDOT, but I did figure out that it was a basically a score based on the effective VO2 max corrected for running proficiency. It’s basically VO2max multiplied by a scaling factor that is determined by your running economy, efficiency, biomechanics, and mental toughness. So for example, a 5 km time of 19:13 gives a VDOT of 52.2 ml/kg/min.

The score and the training protocol was the result of research by a gentleman named… (Wait for it) Dr. Jack Daniels. In the words of PI Thomas Magnum, “I know what you’re thinking, and you’re right. What’s a guy named Jack Daniels doing conducting research on running and run training?”

Well, Dr. Jack holds a PHD in exercise physiology, and is a world renowned coach, and former olympic medalist. In the 1970’s he conducted research, where he was able to correlate training and race data and come up with formulas and tables to help predict target running paces for varying distances during training. His findings were later compiled in a book titled Daniels Running Formula

The basic premise is that from the VDOT score you can determine your pace during training runs. So in the case above, Easy would be 8:16, Marathon would be 7:02. Threshold and Interval paces are also provided for several distances in metres that would best be completed on the track. These times are based on the most efficient paces to train at to stimulate an increase in endurance, and running speed. Training at paces below your score would not stimulate the maximum of improvements. Training at paces above your score will over stress and under rest the body, and invite injury.

So how do you figure out, your own VDOT you say? Easy, the web is full of tables and calculators. I used this one. All you need is a reliable time from a trial, or race to input into the program, or to use as a starting point on a table.

Of course if you want to know more, you could always read Dr. Jacks book. In fact, it’s now on my TO DO list.

High Interval Training HIT  

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This seems to be the new buzz word in training these days. In the last year or so, I have seen an increasing number of online coaches, online magazines, web sites, and blogs touting the benefits of utilizing high interval sets to stimulate gains in endurance in a fraction of the time as doing high volume low intensity training. Recently, I received a newsletter from CTS with a link to Science Daily with an article about HIT training. Why I even saw CNN resident medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta this past week advising millions of Americans to do 10 sets of hill repeats with 1 minute rest breaks as a "short cut" to gaining fitness.

Traditional long even training started with a base period of slow long sessions designed to increase endurance before moving on to spedd building during the build and peak phases. The basic premise of HIT is to make the best use of time by incorporating intervals into your session. Sets of intervals of high intensity with adequate rest between efforts is reported to have similar benefits to gaining endurance fitness as moderate longer duration training.

So here is my 2 cents. I have always been a proponent of smart training. In the first year or two of training, you will see improvements in fitness with any training. Basically anything that gets you off the couch is enough of an increase in activity to get you to your goal of finishing your event. For a new athlete, a ride here, a run there, few swims, will result in significant gains in fitness. But eventually you reach a plateau, and you have to start putting thought into your training. Mixing in high intervals is a key part of that. Hill repeats, speedwork on the track, and race simulations, should all be mixed in with longer endurance sessions. All training should be done with a purpose, and junk miles should be eliminated.

But I also think there is a place for the long endurance workout. I can't see how an athlete can complete a 11 hour Ironman with a 6 hour bike split and a 4 hour run split if their longest training ride was only 3 hours, and longest training run was only 1 hour, no matter how many intervals were done. If for no other reason than mental preparation, I really think that some training should be done with distance in mind. Nothing gets your mind ready for a long Ironman day than a couple of 5 to 6 hor rides during your training.

The difference is that in a program focusing on HIT, speed is built along the way so those long distance rides can be done at a higher pace. Ultimatly you'll see speed gains right from the start of the program instead of waiting until you finish your base period. The biggest benefit I see is during the winter for athletes preparing for an early season event. A 1 hour, well planned interval sessions on the trainer may be easier to handle than a 2 hour "EASY" ride. For me, no 2 hour ride on a trainer is easy.

Finally, HIT may not be for everyone. Intervals are hard. Some people may simply enjoy a 2 hour run at easy or moderate pace than 45 minutes of hill repeats, or speed intervals at the track, so there is definately personal preferance involved.

Anyone with an opinion on HIT, are incorporating it into their plan, maybe preparing for an upcoming long event, send it along. I'd love to find out what everyone else thinks.

Musical Mondays, Pump it Up, by the Other Elvis  

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Another one to get you going. On Friday, I saw a CD of Hockey Rock, typical between play, and commercial break tunes compiled on one CD and right in tme middle was this one. I had kind forgot about this tune

Then yesterday, I watched Elvis' HBO program, and he was onstage jammin with Ron Sexsmith, Cheryl Crowe, Neko Case, and Jesse Winchester and it hit me again. Pump it Up.

Not sure what's up with his legs. I can't see how hw doesn't break an ankle. But that's how we danced in the 80's. Skinny ties and all.

Pushup Humour  

Posted by FLATOUT JIM in

Not sure what's up here. Combining pushups and eating, Good idea or bad? The jury is still out on that one.

100 Pushup Challenge  


Have you heard about this yet? I found it through my latest bloggie friend, Jeff at his blog Dangle the Carrot.

The challenge comes from this web site, and it’s simple. Do an initial test to see how many you can do, then follow their program to build yourself up to 100.

Pushups are obviously great for your chest, but also, triceps and shoulders, as well as the core as you keep the body in the plank position while completing each rep with good form. It’s no coincidence the P90X program includes a lot of these in the Chest sessions, as well as the Core Synergystics session.

I plan to jump in, right after I take a week or so to ease back into some upper body strength training. I know I can easily bang out 20 or so right now, maybe even break 30 if I feel good, but to do so today would cause acute DOMS and put me out of commission for a week or so. I plan to be a little smart about it.

Jeff has a list of “Team members” starting March 22. It would be cool to include a group of flatout followers as well. Let’s see who is up for it!

Human Growth Hormone (HGH) and Recovery  

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There was an interesting article in the latest edition of Triathlete Magazine that deals with the topic of Human Growth Hormone or HGH.

HGH has been in the news the last few years for the wrong reasons. It is crucial in the development of lean muscle tissue, and has artificially manufactured HGH has become the drug of choice for strength athletes, and sometimes even baseball players. But naturally produced HGH is critical for an endurance athlete because it directly affects recovery.

HGH is secreted by the body and is affected by diet, exercise and rest. HGH production is hampered by insulin, so it doesn’t get secreted until after your body has dealt with the glucose spike after that huge platter of fettuccini from dinner.

It has been shown to peak after a hard session of resistance training, or for an endurance athlete, hard interval training. And the highest levels appear to be produced as the body enters the first stages of deep sleep, about an hour after you turn down for the night.

Those conditions are contrary to traditional high volume, low intensity, Ironman training programs so many people follow. Add a high carb diet and sleep deprivation suffered by most weekend warriors trying to maintain 20 to 30 training hours per week with a full time career and family, and HGH production, and subsequent recovery is severely hampered.

If you find yourself in that situation, it might be worth tweaking your program a little. Add in some mid week interval sessions, maybe some hill climbs, or speed work at the local track. Back off on the pasta, and add in some more protein, especially for the evening meal. And finally, get at least 8 hours in the sack each night. 9 or 10 is better if doable. In fact Gordo Byrne rates sleep as probably the most important factor when you sign up for an ironman.

So climb them hills, eat your chicken, and go to bed early.

What a week  

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Hit with another cold bug. It was short lived, but knocked me out enough to keep me out of the pool after Monday, and as well as miss my Thursday masters workout. I did manage to get in my 2 spin sessions, then by Saturday I was on the mend enough to suffer through a long trainer session (2 hours) as I watch Brad Gushue in the Brier Playoffs, come up just short of pulling off an awesome comeback.

Sunday night the masters session was all long sets. It seems that coach is starting to emphasize distance as the spring starts to near, and people start to think about triathlon season.

So here’s to a better week this week. I still have the post nasal irritation. Going through boxes of Kleenex, but I managed to suffer through my Monday trainer session. Hopefully if the weather keeps up like this weekend, it’ll be on the road soon.

In other news, good friends of mine are preparing for a trip down under so Andreas can do Ironman Australia. They have a blog started to keep tabs on their trip. Check-em out here

Musical Mondays, Guns and Roses  

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Sometimes you feel a little BLAHHHH !!! and need something to really kick your butt. There are a few tunes that do that to me. When I hear them, I immediately want to swim faster, bike faster and run faster.

As far as G n R go, I can live without the BS, but I have to say, I really love a lot of their music. Straight up, in your face, best listened to loud.

As far as this video goes, The Good, Sarah Conner (Linda Hamilton) doing pull-ups. Apperently Arnold trained her for this movie, and she was BUFF! The Bad, Axil’s white spandex shorts. There are some colours of spandex that just shouldn’t be made. The Ugly, Axil’s fishnet T Shirt. A little too Freddy Mercury.

Anyway, put this on and play it loud!!!!! Then go out and do your next session.

Own The Podium a Lesson in Goal Setting  

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So for my last Olympic post, I’ll address the question that is no doubt a huge debate in Canada right now. Own The Podium, success of failure.

Own The Podium was the Canadian Olympic Committees plan to prepare for the 2010 games in Vancouver. Up until 2010, Canada had the dubious distinction of being one of only 2 countries never to win a gold medal as the host nation. Own The Podium was implemented to change that. In fact the generally accepted goal of Own The Podium was not only to win the first ever gold on home soil, but to lead the medal standings. Notice how carefully I phrased that. Although that’s how the program has been depicted in the media, I couldn’t find anything on the website of OTP that stated the goal of winning more medals than any other country.

For kicks and Giggles, let’s assume that was the primary objective. Assessing the success or failure, is really a lesson in goal setting, and preparedness. Given the objective, the program was a failure, by a lot. 11 to be exact. But when you put it in context, Assessing the success or failure of OTP is much like assessing the success or failure of last years triathlon season.

Consider this analogy. Last year your goal was to win your age group in your local Olympic distance race. Come race day you placed third in your age group, with a time of just under 2 hours and 15 minutes, 10 minutes behind the age group winner. So was your season a failure? Really, you have to look at the bigger picture. Did you set a PB for that distance? How did your swim and bike splits compare with your peers? How did you place overall?

If your result was a dismal 15 minutes slower than the previous year, and 10 minutes out of first for your agegroup this year, the answer is that the season was a disappointment.

But if you set a personal best by 5 minutes, placed top 3 in your age group, as well as top 3 overall, and number 1 was a ringer from out of town who showed up out of the blue to use your local race as a tune up for an upcoming national event, then I would count that as a resounding victory.

So again I ask, Own the Podium, Success or Failure? Well given the final results, third overall behind a US team that blew even their own expectations out of the water, and given that Canada set two records, most golds by a host nation, and most golds overall in the winter games, you would have to label it a success.

For me, the beginning was disappointing, and I was as critical as anyone. But looking back, it sure was fun just to be in a position to be disappointed. Canada had medal potential in every single sport, with the exception of the Nordic events. And even then, Canadian skiers were in the hunt all the way through the team sprint, and missed the gold in the 50k by a mere 1.5 seconds. The montage at the top puts it all in perspective.

As for the lesson in goal setting, when you plan out your season, think about stating a goal that may seem out to lunch, but that is possible given the right circumstances. It may be to place in your agegroup, or set a personal best, the key is to shoot for the stars. If your PB is 2:45, and you set a very ambitious goal of breaking 2:30, and you end up 2:35, that’s still better by 10 minutes. Then you can debate Success or Failure.

Congratulations Heather Moyse  

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Like so many others, I am suffering from an Olympic Withdrawal. So to help in my recovery, I continue to write about the previous two weeks, and shall continue to do so, probably until the start of the Brier.

Today, I remembered a post from September about a Canadian BobSleigh athlete from Prince Edward Island, who was forced to come up with some unique training strategies when the gym near her home was closed.

Turns out that pushing cars works, as Heather Moyse and Kallie Humphries slid away with the gold medal. This was an awesome event, and a great day for Canadians as Moyse and Humphries were the last sleigh. As they raced down the track, two other Canadian sliders were sitting in first. As a result, Canada came away with 2 of the 3 medals. Congratulations to Heather, and Kallie, as well as Helen Upperton, and Shelley-Ann Brown who just got bumped off the top step of the podium by their teammates. Also Elana Meyers and Erin Pac of the United States whose bronze helped the American record medal haul.

Little time to celebrate for Heather. The women’s national rugby team player prepares for this summers upcoming Women’s Rugby World Cup in England.

Again Congratulations and thanks for the memories.

It’s Still Our Game  

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Forgive me for gloating, but for me this was super sweet. I was critical of the roster from the start. I guess you could say I had tempered my expectations. I had picked Russia for gold, Sweden silver, and the USA with the bronze, and Canada losing out in an anti climatic bronze medal game.

Shows how much I know. The Russians and Swedes were no shows in the medal round. As for the USA, I watched a documentary before the games, and I knew they were strong. Names like Parise, Borque, Statsny, and Kessels are front and centre on their respective teams. All the US needed to excel in this tournament was solid goaltending, and did Ryan Miller ever deliver. The Buffalo Sabres must be stoked for the remainder of the NHL season. His performance is the kind that a team can ride deep in the playoffs.

But as good as the USA was, the way Canada performed was magical. Like an old car that has to warm up a while before it gets running on all cylinders. By the time they met the Russians, they were as dominant as any team Canada I have seen.

Then enter the kid. My wife asked me how Sidney was doing. I explained not too good but that he was being checked very closely, so that meant everyone else were getting more chances. True to my words, seconds before the golden goal, Sid tried to break for the net and was promptly turned away by two blue shirts. Then the puck went to the corner, and the rest was history.

And lets not forget Jerome Iginla. In the corner, digging out the puck, from his stomach. That’s about as Canadian as it gets.

Hats off to the USA. When they scored the tying goal, two entire countries hearts skipped a beat. To calm my nerves, I told myself, “Now we will have moment” Either way there would be a tournament defining goal. And how great it was.