Dr. Michele Olson’s Top 4 Tabata Workouts

Dr. Michele Olson's Top 4 Tabata Workouts

This Tabata workout by Dr. Michele Olson is a part of our fourth-annual Guest Bloggers’ Week. (Check out all of the inspiring, informative, entertaining and life-changing posts here!) Dr. Olson is known as THE Exercise Doctor and is a professor of exercise physiology at Auburn University Montgomery. Check out her website here.

Tabata is hot! Really hot! And, for good reason. The research study I presented at the 60th Annual Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) showed that the metabolic rate was doubled for at least 30 minutes after a bout of “all out” Tabata doing body weight squat jumps.

The amazing calorie burn during, and after Tabata, has to do with its intensity. Similar to other styles of interval training, where you can get more results in less time, Tabata really pushes the envelope. Tabata is more like interval exercise “on steroids.” Most types of interval training require you to push at about 80 to 90 percent of your max capacity during the burst segments of the workout. Tabata training is done at 100+ percent of your max capacity. Comprised of eight rounds of 20 seconds of all-out effort moves with just 10 seconds between each 20-second round, Tabata takes just 4 minutes to create a metabolic and cardio-boosting inferno.

It is okay to do Tabata intervals at a less than a 100+ percent all-out effort such as doing rounds at 70 percent for a few weeks, then 80 percent building up to putting forth a max effort. But, a “true” Tabata interval protocol, and the amazing metabolic effects are a result of the “all out” effort approach.

Great moves and exercises for doing Tabata include running sprints, sprints on studio cycles and body-weight exercises where you incorporate a lot of muscle mass with multi-joint movements such as squat jumps. To do a Tabata properly, you can select one super cardio exercise and repeat it eight times, but I like to spice it up by combining a couple of legit Tabata moves.

The following Tabata workouts are excellent for all abilities. The first two Tabata “duos” meet the criteria for Tabata (using a lot of muscle and body weight); these duos also give you uncomplicated and low-tech options. If you’re doing authentic Tabatas, you should do just one because of the exhausting intensity. If you are newer to exercise, make sure you are warmed up and use the provided modifications. If you are already fit and active, you can use a Tabata as an add-on or “finisher” to really boost your fitness level. Or, if you are pressed for time, one solid Tabata can count as 20 minutes of moderate intensity cardio — try the last two Tabata workout options to really get your heart pumping!

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