If you haven’t heard of Tabata then you’re missing out on an absolute treat. It’s a 4-minute long workout protocol developed by Japanese researcher Izumi Tabata that has you alternating between periods of super high-intensity exercise and super brief periods of rest. In many ways, Tabata is the reason that High-Intensity Interval Training (or HIIT for short) is so popular in today’s fitness magazines.
Full disclosure, when we call Tabata a ‘treat’ we may mean something else (feel free to insert a word of your choice after you’ve finished your first workout.) Trust us, though, it might be tough but its absolutely worth it. Here are our top three reasons that you need Tabata in your travels.
1: Tabata is two amazing workouts in one
Tabata gets your heart pumping, no doubt about that. In fact, you’ll probably finish your workout with your heart pumping something in the region of 170-200+ times each minute! This means that you’re getting a great cardiovascular workout, strengthening your heart and lungs. The original research showed that after 6 weeks of 5 Tabata’s per week, maximal oxygen uptake increased by 15%. (i.e. your lungs will be able to breathe in 15% more oxygen – pretty cool right?)
But that’s not all. Because Tabata uses max effort ‘sprints’ to get your heart rate up, it also improves your anaerobic capacity, which is basically a fancy way of saying your body’s ability to work without access to oxygen. The original research showed improvements in the region of 30% for this component of fitness. This is something you would never get from a low-intensity exercise like jogging.
Now, we know this is all getting a bit ‘sciency,’ so here’s the exciting summary. In just four minutes you’re getting two different workouts, both of which make you healthier and fitter.
2: Tabata is QUICK
In 1996 the original researchers found that just 4 minutes of Tabata, 5 times per week, had the same impact as doing 60 minutes of jogging 5 times per week. Crazy right? That means that you can do 20 minutes of exercise each week and develop as much fitness as someone doing 5 hours of exercise each week!
For travelling, this is absolutely perfect. Got a busy day and only have 10 minutes to squeeze in a workout? No problem. Skip 1 hour of running and just spend a couple minutes warming up and then jump into a Tabata. You can even use Tabata to train four, five or even six days per week and still have plenty of time left to travel, explore and soak up the local culture.
#3 Tabata is Flexible
The original research had exercisers doing max effort sprints on a spin bike, but you don’t need the bike to achieve the same training effect. All you need to do is find an exercise that lets you push yourself as hard as possible for twenty seconds. Some examples include:
Sprinting – Find a beach, field or quiet path and run as fast as you can.
Burpees – Drop down into a press up then quickly bounce back to your feet and jump as you clap your hands above your head. Rinse and repeat.
Swimming sprints – Got access to a pool, lake or even the sea? You can do swimming sprints for exactly the same effect. Just make sure you’ve got something to grab onto or that the water is shallow enough to stand up if you get too tired.
Squat jumps – Go all the way down into a squat then accelerate up into a jump. Keep on going and be prepared for your legs to get sore!
This means that you can perform an awesome Tabata workout (which you already know is technically two awesome workouts) anywhere and any time, using only your bodyweight. The simplicity of the workout also means that you don’t need much space, which is perfect when you’re trying to exercise in a small hotel or hostel room.
One last tip
All you need to remember is that Tabata requires maximum effort. You’ve got to be honest with yourself and really push it.
You’ll know if you’ve done it right because you should be absolutely exhausted as soon as you’ve finished (don’t worry you’ll feel fine again in about twenty minutes and a few glasses of water)