There is no reason for me to school you that if your primary goal is to reduce your body fat storages and prevent future accumulation, then you MUST integrate a specific cardio workout that will help you skyrocket your metabolic rate and retain its velocity for hours after you’ve left the gym. Considering, of course, that you have your diet in check and your eating habits are under control.
I usually refer to this as the simple fat burning equation: Burn body fat = proper diet + cardiovascular exercise. Fairly simple and easy to remember, right?
In our quest to reduce our stored body fat as quick as possible we often fall victims to various cardio fads. Some try Zoomba, others try pilates, third are under the assumption that the best cardiovascular methodology is long and exhausting runs or cycling.
Some work well, others not at all. As a result the vast majority of the individuals who are interested in cutting down those extra pounds that they’ve unintentionally stored, fall victims to the evil negative perception that they will never be able to achieve the results they’ve always hoped for and decide to just give up.
Something that I really enjoy repeating over and over is that your training, inside or outside of the gym, is what brings you the best results. Your diet is constructed as a reflection of your workout intensity, not the opposite. This does not mean that nutrition is not important, it is, the total number of calories you consume, insulin manipulation, carb cycling, healthy fats, lean protein, complex carbohydrates, all of these play an important role in your fat loss mission and should never be taken lightly.
What makes a good cardio workout?
The purpose of doing cardiovascular training in the first place is to reduce stored body fat as much as you possibly can. What will determine a good, or even the best, cardio workout is the one that helps you achieve the best results then, right?
This does not mean that the type of cardio workout I am about to present to you in this post is the only one you are suppose to do, but rather one of the workouts that you really need to consider integrating if you truly wish to see great results and tone your body for the summer.
Make sure that you always alternate your cardio workouts. If you just do the same thing week after week you will start noticing how your results slowly but gradually stop being visible and at one point they will just disappear.
Anyway, your cardio workout’s purpose is to boost your metabolic rate and most importantly keep it at the same heightened velocity for hours after you’ve left the gym. This is why you need to make sure that your cardio is of higher intensity.
Low intensity cardiovascular workouts, such as long-ass runs or walks, tend to work well as a conclusion to your intense training, because they target fatty acids as an energy source more specifically. After a workout of high intensity you have fully depleted your glycogen storages and thus left your body with no carbohydrates that it can use as energy.
What is Tabata training?
Tabata is a very short high intensity interval workout that has a serious impact on weight loss as well as other benefits. The Tabata training is my favorite form of cardio for a couple of reasons – it’s extremely quick to finish (this is perfect for people who lack the necessary free time to go to the gym for longer than 30 minutes but still want to improve their physique) and helps you achieve amazing results in a matter of no time!
The name Tabata comes from the man who invented it – Dr. Izumi Tabata, a Japanese
physician. In 1996 he conducted a study concerning high intensity interval training and the effects on the human body. His aim was to see if athletes would benefit from completing a workout, which he’s the architect of, where the subjects would perform a cycle which would be 20 seconds of ultra-intense exercise, also known as VO2 Max or maximum effort of the human body (every person has a different peak that can be considered as the maximum effort based on genetics, physical strength and physical activity), and 10 seconds of rest or 10 seconds of low intensity exercise depending on personal endurance levels. They had to complete a total of 8 cycles resulting in a total of 4 minutes of HIIT.
Professor Tabata took two groups and put them on an exercise program for the course of six weeks. The control group did one hour of low-to-moderate-intensity exercise five times a week. The other group were subject to his own high-intensity training.
The control group had a total of 1,800 minutes of training versus 120 minutes of training for the Tabata group. The Tabata group managed to improve both its aerobic and anaerobic fitness levels. The anaerobic fitness level increased by 28 percent.
The Tabata experiment showed that the study subjects managed to improve their overall endurance and strength by pushing against their maximum barrier. In other words, Dr. Tabata didn’t just develop a HIIT program that delivers incredible results, but also managed to provide us with tangible evidence that through high intensity resistance training your body’s strength increases. Hence, the idea to increase the weight of the rack if you want to see results in both muscle mass development and general strength.
Furthermore, due to the fact that you are training at maximum effort, or your body’s maximum capacity, means that your heart rate and consequently metabolic rate will skyrocket.
To a biological standpoint it’s absolutely logical – your body is working at full capacity and as a result it will need as much energy as it could possibly gather. The elevated heart rate means that there is more oxygen flowing to your muscles to keep them moving, providing them with enough ATP, oxygen, electrolytes and other micronutrients (minerals and vitamins), and glycogen to keep them moving as fast and strong as possible. There is also blood flushing your brain to ensure high concentration and focus as well as to make sure that you’ll not faint in the process.
The elevated metabolic rate is your body saying “WE NEED MORE ENERGY”. Just imagine an old-school ship such as the Titanic, for example, that runs on coal and how 10-20 people are tossing coal as fast as possible. Your metabolism is responsible for the rate at which macronutrients, primarily carbohydrates and fats, are being transformed into energy for the body to use.
The most interesting and fascinating part is how a 4 minutes training is capable of delivering much better results than a 60-90 minutes run. Absolutely astonishing.
“And why is that?” you wonder in awe. It is due the high intensity element of the workout that doesn’t just elevate your metabolism, not for just 4 minutes, but for hours after you’re done with it. As a matter of fact, it is recorded that an intense Tabata training will you leave your metabolism at “full speed ahead” for as long as 24 hours. And sometimes for even longer.
What this means is that you are burning body fat throughout the course of those 24 hours. Sitting down and watching TV – burning fat; reading this article – burning fat; sleeping – still burning fat.
The Tabata workout is like that BURN! button that you have on your master panel that once pushed will help you lose a ton of weight in a matter of no time.
However, the Tabata training is no easy button to push. Due to its high intensity you will be left sweating your ass off, or other parts of the body, looking at you balls. This does, logically speaking, mean that you are not suppose to do this exercise 6-7 times a week, you’ll kill yourself if you do so. I recommend performing the Tabata exercise 1-2 a week for the best fat loss results.
And this is not the best part about the Tabata training. There are endless variations to the workout, here are a few ideas:
- Jumping rope – my personal favorite;
- Battle ropes – this is a really good one
- Tornado ball – love it and hate it at the same time (super intense)
- Rowling machine – another personal favorite;
- Boxing/Kickboxing – aaaand another one
- Jumping Lunges.
The sky’s the limit, kid, the sky’s the limit. Leave in the comments below what do you believe would be a great idea for an exercise to implement the Tabata principle.
And the reason why this makes the Tabata principle a cardiovascular exercise of holy perfection is the notion that I presented earlier in this post, remember? “Make sure that you always alternate your cardio workout”, with all of these different exercises that you can choose from you will always be surprising your body and ensuring that it never gets accommodated to you cardio workout, eureka! A beauty of god given proportions, ‘m I right?!
Wanna hear the best part? You can make your Tabata training even better by implementing a 15-20 minute low intensity training. Remember how I mentioned that low intensity exercises tend to target your fatty acids more directly. Well, by reducing the glycogen storages you have in your muscles through your Tabata training you open up your secondary source of energy – stored body fat.
A 15-20 minute low intensity workout will burn approximately anywhere from 50-150 calories (depending on the exercise in mind). Keep in mind that fat contains about 9 calories, or in other words, you will be burning an extra 5-15g of body fat with just a 15-20 minute low intensity training.
I know that this sounds like absolutely nothing, but at the end, when your body starts refusing to lose body fat and it starts getting harder and harder, this will come in really handy. Especially for those small spots of your body where body fat just seems to not budge, looking at you lower belly region, you jerk.
How much body fat will you be capable of losing by using the Tabata protocol?
I can bet my buttocks that throughout the course of reading this article the majority of you lovely people were asking yourself this question. The truth is that there is no clear answer to this particular question. Everybody’s different, everybody has a differently constructed DNA set, meaning that what works for one will not work for another in the same fashion.
I will, however, give you an example. A close friend of mine wanted to shed those extra pounds of body weight that he had accumulated due to a bad diet and lack of mobility. My friend, whom’s name I will not reveal because of personal reasons, but we can call him Jim, he managed to reduce his weight from 210lbs to about 187lbs in the course of 10 weeks. His program was set with a well-calculated diet program and high intensity training as well as resistance training. Everything was of high intensity in his workouts and he managed to lose body fat tissue with 33lbs.
His muscle tissue suffered no loss. This was made evident due to his FFMI (the fat free mass index that shows you how much of your weight, in response to current body fat percentage, is fat free) going up from 19 to 20.8. In other words, he managed to gain muscle mass and reduce current body fat by a lot.
Can you start with Tabata straight away?
It really comes down to your physical activity level. If you’ve just recently started working out and eating properly, then this might not be the right choice for you. Give yourself at least 1 or 2 weeks worth of preparation and training. Build up on that so that your body will be prepared to take on the heavy load of intensity that the Tabata offers.
If you’ve been training and have been physically active for quite some time now, then yes, you can start doing the Tabata workout.
Your body’s maximum capacity is not the same as another person’s maximum capacity. There is no competition involved or a specific fixed amount of intensity that the workout involves. Your aim is to hit your own limit for 20 seconds and then rest for 10, not hit someone else’s limit. Work with what you’ve got!
You most definitely need to warm up before starting the Tabata workout. Make sure that you’re body is prepared for this both mentally and physically. Do a 5-10 minute warm up on a bicycle or on the treadmill to ensure that you’re blood’s started running and your heart is accustomed to the fact that you’ll put a tone of tension on your whole body.
The Tabata principle is a perfect manner that allows you achieve amazing results in short bursts of 4 minutes once or twice a week. It will help you elevate current general strength as well as endurance.
There are thousands of variations that can be implemented giving you endless possibilities. This will not only assure that you’re body will not evolve with your training leaving you with fewer and fewer results, but will also make sure that you keep yourself entertained as you will not be doing the same repetitive exercises.
What do you think would make a great exercise to integrate to the Tabata protocol? Leave a comment below!