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How to do the Tabata Sprint Protocol to Burn Fat and Lose Weight

Posted Sep 07 2008 8:36pm

Need to burn fat but don't have much time? Want to be lean but hate long slow cardio? Well, you might curse me for this, but have you tried the Tabata protocol?

Tabata Sprints are a high intensity interval training procotol designed by famous speed skating coach Dr. Izumi Tabata at the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Japan (first published in 1996). They are simple and yet brutally effective for elevating your metabolism for up to 24 hours after the workout has been completed. Sounds great right? Well hear me out first.

To do Tabata sprints is simple, go full out for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds, repeat eight times, then puke. At this point it may dawn on you why speed skaters are so lean and powerful looking and you are not. The Tabata sprint protocol is so incredibly hard because the 20 second sprint will put you into a state of oxygen debt and the ten second rest is not enough to recover before you go back into the sprint.

Basically you will go further and further into oxygen debt until the eighth set arrives or you falter and collapse. That being said, for all the pain and inner turmoil you will experience, I guarantee you they will melt the fat off your soft physique.

How do you apply Tabata's? The nice thing about Tabata's is that you can use almost any equipment or none and do these sprints. Speed skaters would do them on skates obviously but there are plenty of options to use the 20 second sprint, 10 second rest format:
  • bike sprints
  • running sprints
  • rowing machine sprints
  • burpees
  • squats (free, goblet or front squats)
  • kettlebell swings, cleans or snatches
  • elliptical machine
  • dumbbell snatches or cleans

When using exercise machines, be sure to crank up the tension because without enough tension these sprints are fairly useless. I have often used burpees in a hotel room when I had no other options. Always warm-up before starting the sprint sets, 5 minutes should be sufficient. If you are strength training as well, be sure to finish with Tabata's and not begin with them because you will not have any strength left. Tabata's are super intense and will burn you out pretty quick if you do them often, I have found that twice a week on a bike is sufficient, more intense options have to used sparingly.
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