Friday, March 2, 2012

Paleo Sprints - Tabata Workout

My Paleo Fitness Mantra: Walk every day, lift heavy things, sprint occasionally and play often!

I was recently talking to a friend about my exercise regime which includes almost exclusively low intensity cardio (walking and stationary biking) and strength training (yoga and weight lifting). When I thought about this more I realized that I'm not often adding sprints to my workout. I don't like sprints very much, and who does really? But most Paleo Gurus do suggests that occasional sprints are very beneficial to the body.

I had heard of the Tabata training method, but hadn't looked it up to see what it really entailed. So, today I Googled it and found this on the web:
The Tabata Method was developed in 1996 by Izumi Tabata, Ph.D., a former researcher at Japan’s National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Kanoya.

Tabata is a popular high intensity interval training regimen based on a 1996 study uses 20 seconds of ultra-intense exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated continuously for 4 minutes (8 cycles).
I kept searching and found several sites that more fully explained what types of exercises to use for the "Ultra-intense exercise" intervals. It seems that any cardio workout will work for this interval training. You can run in place, ride a stationary bike or elliptical, do squats, lunges or push ups, jump rope, do pull-ups or any other activity you like that can be turned up to a very high intensity.

I gave this a try today. I turned my stationary bike's resistance up almost as high as it would go, grabbed a stopwatch and got to work. For 20 seconds I peddled as hard and fast as I could, then I rested for 10 seconds by barely peddling at all, then did 2 more 20 second all-out intervals with 10 second rests in between. That was all I could do. I was totally exhausted after 3 intervals, but according to most tabata sites, that's very normal when starting out with this sprint workout. Most people should only do about 2 minutes of Tabata when they start out, then work up to the complete 4 minutes over time.

I gave myself about 1 minute of rest then moved on to some other strength training. I did 2 sets of 20 squats each, 1 set of 30 push-ups and 1 set of 20 plank shoulder touches then cooled down with some yoga stretches (forward fold, ham-string stretch, seated cobbler's pose and plow). In total it took me less than 10 minutes for the whole workout including the cool-down. Although I still didn't really enjoy the sprinting, it took less than 5 minutes total...and I can do almost anything for 5 minutes.

So I think I'll give this a try a couple of times per week just to see how I feel. I found these videos on YouTube that give some other ideas on exercises you can use for your high intensity intervals. Enjoy!

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