Tabata Special Sauce

Special Sauce

Every year before the CrossFit Open season begins, we ramp up our conditioning work in preparation.  You will notice a couple changes in our Programming over the next couple months.  We will be doing more longer workouts in class to adequately prepare up for the demands of the Open style workouts.   In addition, we are adding the “Special Sauce” extra at the end of every class.  This year we have decided to make the special sauce very simple.   We will be using the Tabata Interval for all of our special sauce work this year.

To better understand the Tabata Interval and its applications we have chosen an excerpt from the CrossFit Journal written by CrossFit founder Greg Gassman in June 2003:

Tabata Interval

Dr. Izumi Tabata experimented with intervals and published in the journal Medicine in Sports and Exercise the results of an experiment in which he produced excellent improvements in anaerobic and aerobic conditioning in a group of accomplished athletes with a four minute (3:50) protocol of 20 seconds of all out work followed by 10 seconds of rest repeated 8 times.

Significantly, Dr. Tabata’s 4 minute high intensity group got better V02 max improvement than the control group, which followed a 60 minute moderate intensity regimen.

Clarence Bass and Peak Performance both give great accounts of Dr. Tabata’s research and understand the important implications.

Tabata Applications

Dr. Tabata’s research subjects exercised on stationary bikes; we decided to test other applications.

Our favorite and most effective application has been the “Tabata” squat – a 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off repeated 8 times squatting effort scored by the lowest number of reps performed in any of the eight intervals. This single drill tests for and develops elite athletic capacities. Rankings for this drill accurately predict ranking performance on a wide variety of fundamental athletic skills and performance.

Another of our crew’s favored applications is to use the Tabata interval in a workout where an athlete moves from the Concept II Rower to squats then pull-ups, situps, and push-ups. Each exercise is performed like the Tabata squat – 20 on/10 off X 8. Adding the weakest link from each exercise tabulates a final score. The Rowing is scored in “calories” and the other events by reps. We allow a minute’s break between exercises.

Both of these simple workouts are very demanding and surprisingly potent. Trying either will convince you of their potency. Our experience is that improvements in scores for both Tabata workouts suggest strongly that an athlete is likely to show substantial improvements wherever we test them.

Try the Tabata workouts, experiment with varying interval design, and repeat noticeably difficult protocols from time to time. Trust that particularly challenging efforts speak directly to your opportunities for physical gains, and that improved performance in those efforts is the best measure of those gains. Chase the toughest intervals.

The most important point to remember is that high intensity efforts can produce dramatic aerobic benefit without the muscle wasting seen with endurance training.

At the end of every programmed workout Mon-Fri, we will add an additional 4 minute Tabata Interval. Each day will be a different movement, with movements repeating each week on different days.   The intention being that with repeated exposure to the Tabata Interval you will experience the aerobic, anaerobic and VO2 benefits on a global systemic level, and repeating movements will elicit an increase in total max reps achieved week to week.

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