BB Well Workout 5: Tabata

I have worked in the fitness industry for 22-years and have witnessed a lot of changes. One unfortunate one is the decreased emphasis on education. The ease of entry into this field is second to none. And so, with Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in the field and gold standard certifications, I have a chip on my shoulder. Education is what should separate the Whose Who from the Who’s That and Who Cares in the fitness industry. Because of the diminishing return of education, incorrect or incomplete coaching is rampant. Here are just a few of my pet peeves: dead lifts with unsupported forward flexion, plank rows with rotational hips, cycling at over 120RPM, kipping pull-ups, the adductor machine at the gym, and interval workouts other than 8x20/10 being misnamed “Tabata.” The latter is the message of this article.

Photo: Brook Benten. Wardrobe: WODFitters. Shoes: Ryka.


Plenty of high intensity interval training workouts can give a heart rate response, trigger strength gains, and provide metabolic benefits. But research performed by exercise physiologist, Izumi Tabata, in his 1996 study on Olympic speedskaters had a set work period, rest period, and finish time. To be a bona fide "Tabata," hard effort is undergone for 20-seconds followed by a 10-second passive recovery. The sequence of 0:20-hard, 0:10-rest continues for 8 rounds to complete 1 Tabata. Tabata training has science backing it. It has been proven to improve both aerobic (with oxygen) and anaerobic (without oxygen) fitness. Studies show that VO2 Max may increase by as much as 13% in 6-weeks with adherence to Tabata training. All Tabata training is HIIT, but not all HIIT is Tabata.


Below, I'll give you a Tabata-- and I'll add a rhythmic component, because I just cannot help myself. I love a beat so much that I sing along to the tempo of the windshield wipers while driving in the rain. So, where there is no tempo, I create one.


If you have the time, knock this out, rest for 1-minute, then do it again. The BB Well series challenges you to daily 8+minute workouts, so I'd hate for you to throw in the towel on this one at only 4:00. Take a break after completion to get your mind and body right, then give it another go.


With the cadence of "quick, quick, slow" through each interval, music junkies like myself will think of the Queen lyrics "We will, we will, ROCK YOU." If one of these 8 intervals really jives with you, I encourage you to turn on and turn up that song and perform the exercise to the full duration of the musical masterpiece. It's only a 2:00 song. You could wrap two Tabatas (two repeats of the workout video) then do that as an endurance bonus. I am partial to exercise 1 (scissor, scissor, hold) for my We Will Rock You move, but you do your Queen however you'd like!


Here are the 8 Moves in this Tabata. Perform each for 20-seconds. Follow each with a 10-second rest. If you're following along with the video, it's all set to scale.


Exercise 1: Scissor, Scissor, Lunge



Exercise 2: Plank Jack, Triceps Push-Up



Exercise 3: Lateral Hop, Hop, Hold



Exercise 4: (Plank) Oblique Twist, Twist, Hold



Exercise 5: Rotational Hip, Scissor Legs, Center (Neutral)



Exercise 6: Bicycle Crunch, Crunch, Hold



Exercise 7: Ankle Cross, Neutral, Abduction



Exercise 8: (Plank) Floor Slap, Slap, Side Plank




Because a Tabata is only 4-minutes (3:50 if you don't count the finishing rest, which I don't), I strongly encourage you to rest for a minute or two then do this Tabata again. 8-minutes of work is 0.7% of your day. Do the Tabata twice. And if you decide to put on the Queen song afterward and go rogue, send me a private message with the footage-- I'd love to see you "rock it."



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