Tabata metes out fitness in short, repeated flashes

Mon Apr 29, 2013 10:27am EDT
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters) - For people who are too bored or busy to spend an hour on a treadmill an exercise regime that was developed for athletes but is being taught in gyms may help to build fitness in less time.

The Tabata Protocol is a four-minute regime that measures fitness in seconds - 20 seconds of full-out work followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated eight times.

Although it can boost fitness levels of the healthy and time-pressed, experts say it is not for everybody and should not be done every day.

"Tabata is about all-out maximum effort," said Jessica Smith, a Miami-based fitness expert and Tabata coach, adding it is a good workout in a shorter amount of time, especially for people who don't have hours to spend at the gym.

"The intensity has to be high to get the benefits, but you don't want to do it too often."

The Tabata Protocol was developed by Dr. Izumi Tabata after the Japanese scientist conducted tests on two groups of athletes, comparing moderate intensity training with high intensity interval training (HIIT).

He found that short bursts of highly intense exercise were at least as effective as hours of steady moderate training.

While Tabata falls under HIIT, its preset work-to-rest ratio is more specific, and usually more demanding, than other interval workouts, which can encompass anything from boot camps to circuits.   Continued...

A jogger (2nd L) passes fitness enthusiasts performing stretching exercises after sunrise at Queenscliff Beach in Sydney on the first day of Spring September 1, 2008. REUTERS/Will Burgess