Fit Trend: Tabata

This 4-minute workout method has been around since the 1970s but has a new life as the latest fitness trend.

sweaty workoutThis should be you after Tabata. Sweaty and practically passed out. Photo via Shutterstock.

The Tabata protocol was originally developed for Japanese Olympians in the 1970s. The creator, Japanese scientist Izumi Tabata, tested his method on fit college athletes. According to Men’s Health, if you actually try the original Tabata protocol, you will most likely throw up.

To test the original method, athletes did a 20-second all-out sprint on a stationary bike, followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated eight times in a row. (They also did an easy 10-minute warm-up before the session.) The total time was only 4-minutes.

Does a 4-minute workout really work? Participants in the study increased their aerobic fitness by 14 percent. By comparison, people that stayed at a steady rate on the bike for longer time (upwards of 45 minutes) only increased their aerobic fitness by 10 percent. You can try the method with any cardio activity like a stationary bike, treadmill, eliptical, or even sprinting outdoors.

The health benefits of doing high intensity interval training methods has been well publicized. According to Shape, you can achieve more progress and health benefits in a mere 15 minutes of interval training (done three times a week) than on the treadmill for an hour.

What makes the Tabata protocol different is that it is a set method of instructions. The only way it is effective is if you put 100 percent effort into it. So if you are not nauseous, dizzy, and/or seeing stars at the end then you aren’t doing it right. But that can also be extremely dangerous. That’s why gyms all around Boston are offering Tabata classes to use the training method but in a safe, controlled environment.

CrossFit has been incorporating Tabata into their workouts of the day (WODs) for years. In addition to CrossFit locations in our area, you can find group fitness Tabata classes all around Boston. These classes are not all Tabata all the time, because that would defeat the purpose. But the method is incorporated into the class for max results.

Try a Tabata class at these locations:

The Sports Club/LA; 4 Avery Street at Tremont St; 617-375-8200;

Back Bay Healthworks; 441 Stuart Street; 617-859-7700;

Equinox; 131 Dartmouth St.; 617.578.8918;

Fitcorp; 800 Boylston St.; 617-262-2050;

Do you like the Tabata method? Where do you workout?