How a 'Tabata' workout can help improve your fitness
Running is hugely popular, but it's not for everyone. Long gone are the days when cardio was just another word for a long run.
You can get fit and lose fat by learning from the Premier League's approach to conditioning, with the Tabata method proving popular in one of the biggest leagues in the world.
Exercise science has had a huge impact on sport in general, not least the beautiful game. Footballers no longer limit themselves to endless laps of the pitch in order to get match-fit.
1996 was a year of great change in the Premier League. Arsene Wenger got rid of the fish, chips and booze diet that was a common feature among the teams of old.
Fitness training also took a new direction around this era, thanks largely to the work of Japanese Olympic coach, Dr. Izumi Tabata.
Such was the efficacy of Tabata's training programme, it was named eponymously and has been repurposed in virtually every sport.
Here are the basics of the Tabata workout routine. This version is performed on a watt/exercise bike, but you can easily adapt the routine to fit the style of workout you prefer.
- 20 seconds all out, maximum-intensity sprint
- 10 seconds rest
- Repeat the cycle 8 times
- Perform 4 times a week
If you thought you had to beast yourself for hours on end to get leaner and fitter, you'd be mistaken.
This plan has you done in four minutes, with the total weekly volume amounting to little more than the half-time interval of a standard football match.
Tabata put this to the test in a study published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sport and Exercise.
The results were pretty astounding.
Compared to those performing an hour of steady state cardio on an exercise bike, people following the Tabata principle increased their anaerobic fitness by 28% and their VO2 max by 15%.
Cardio isn't universally enjoyed, probably as a result of believing that running was the only way to go about things.
The Tabata programme is evidence that simply sticking to the kind of cardio you most enjoy is the key to results.