Saturday, November 7, 2009

16 minutes of conditioning using Tabata sequence

I can wholeheartedly recommend the Tabata protocol for fitness gains if you are already training two to three times a week in regular BJJ or MMA classes and are in need of some extra supplementary training. The reason for this is that the demands of sparring and rolling are between 3 to 5 minutes per round, the effort of one cycle in the Tabata protocol is four minutes of intensive interval training. This translates better than say a regular gym programme of 20 minutes of cardio followed by body building type strength work consisting of a certain amount of sets and reps per exercise.

Credit for this simple and powerful training method belongs to its namesake, Dr. Izumi Tabata and a team of researchers from the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo, Japan. Their groundbreaking 1996 study, published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports & Exercise provided documented evidence concerning the dramatic physiological benefits of high-intensity intermittent training. After just 6 weeks of testing, Dr. Tabata noted a 28% increase in anaerobic capacity in his subjects, along with a 14% increase in their ability to consume oxygen (V02Max). These results were witnessed in already physically fit athletes. The conclusion was that just four minutes of Tabata interval training could do more to boost aerobic and anaerobic capacity than an hour of endurance exercise. The sequence is 20 seconds of high intensity effort followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeat for 8 sets.

Starting off
I recommend an adaptive period to allow your body to condition itself for the demands to be placed on it later. I have chosen four exercises that will target the major muscles of the body, if whilst doing the exercises and your body starts fatiguing (and it will!), don’t stop – hold the posture and continue slowly. You can use a wall clock or you can purchase the GYMBOSS interval stop watch at You want to build up to 32 cycles nonstop which will only take 16 minutes, truly a case of less is more!

First week - one cycle of 8 exercises / two to three times per week
• 2 sets of push ups
• 2 sets of ab/core exercises
• 2 sets of burpees
• 2 sets of pull ups
Second week – two cycles of 16 exercises / two to three times per week
• 3 sets of push ups
• 5 sets of ab/core exercise
• 5 sets of burpees
• 3 sets of pull ups
Third week – three cycles of 24 exercises / two to three times per week
• 4 sets of push ups
• 8 sets of ab/core exercise
• 8 sets of burpees
• 4 sets of pull ups
Forth week – 4 cycles of 32 exercises / two to three times per week
• 8 sets of push ups
• 8 sets of ab/core exercise
• 8 sets of burpees
• 8 sets of pull ups

Getting bored? … Using the same adaptive conditioning method as set out above. Bring in Olympic clean, press and snatch movements, invest time and money in learning about kettlebells, TRX suspension trainers and sand bags.