The 20-minute workout!
Have you heard of Tabata before? If you are a member of my boot camp class then your answer is *groan* YES! I add that groan in because all of my participants know that when I get that grin it is a Tabata day, my favourite workout by far and theirs too, even though it is TOUGH!
A Little History
Tabata workouts were created by a speed skating coach in Japan. The Tabata protocol consists of 20 seconds of high intensity exercise with 10 seconds of rest for 8 rounds. The coaching staff measured the effectiveness of this protocol and noted a 28% increase in anaerobic threshold and a 14% improvement in VO2 max, in just 6 weeks! Anaerobic threshold refers to the body's ability to deal with lactic acid (that muscle burning feeling). An increase in this means that you don't get that feeling until you hit higher speeds or longer time into your run. Vo2max is a complicated and highly revered measure of cardiovascular ability, this is something you want to improve!
How to do it Best!
A Tabata workout can be done by completing just one round at your maximum exertion levels but it is recommended that you do 4 rounds for maximum benefit. The American Council for Exercise completed a study that followed a 4 round Tabata protocol that showed 15 kcals being burned per minute! Here's their Tabata protocol.
There are many different variations that can be created for an effective Tabata workout. You can also find multiple apps on your smartphone that have the built-in timer as well as playlists that have the music set up in a 20 seconds high speed, 10 seconds low-speed format.
Always remember to warm-up before the workout and cool down and stretch after the workout.
Disclaimer: not all exercise programs are suitable for each person. Please use this information at your own risk.