My First Tabata Protocol Workout

Today I did my first Tabata Protocol Workout.  I started with 4 intervals (as recommended by Shawn Bennett).  I did a 3 min. warmup (gradually increasing the tension on my Linex recumbant bike from 3 to 5), then I started my intervals of 20 seconds exercise, 10 seconds rest pedaling as fast I could go at a setting of 8 on the bike.

My warmup RPMs on the bike were about 70 RPMs, and for each exercise bout I was up over 100 (my first interval I took note of 114 RPMs, but I’m sure I got a little slower over the next 3 intervals).  Bottom line is I pedaled as fast as I could without my feet flying off the things!

My Max. Heart Rate achieved during exercise got up to 174 BPM (well above the normal ‘cardio zone’ that aerobics training specifies).   The universal guideline for aerobics is 220 minus one’s age as the Max. BPM and 60% to 80% of that number is the recommended ‘aerobic/cardio target Heart Rate zone’.  For me, that would mean a traditional range of 108-144 BPM (220-40 yrs old = 180 Max, and 60%=108, 80%=144).  Like PACE, the idea is to get into what Dr. Sears calls the ‘supra-aerobic zone’ where you start panting from lack of enough oxygen to get fuel to your muscles, thereby creating an oxygen deficit that triggers the anaerobic energy system on top of the aerobic energy system.

You can see that Tabata is much more intense and my Heart Rate got well above the ‘upper limit’ recommended for aerobics training.

A word of caution:  As I mentioned in my previous post, I had been doing the PACE program for the past 5 weeks, which is why I knew 174 BPM wasn’t going to be a problem.  I had achieved a Max. HR of 174 during my recent PACE workouts (and didn’t collapse) so I knew I would be OK.  One should NEVER attempt this workout without first conditioning oneself gradually over time to be able to handle these elevated heart rates.

My recovery Heart Rate (taken exactly 1 minute after my cool-down period) was 109 BPM.  My best recovery on PACE after 5 weeks (also achieving a Max. Heart Rate of 174 BPM) was 112 BPM.  So, I attribute this better recovery rate to the shorter duration of exercise and perhaps my being in even better shape since my last PACE workout about 1 week ago (4 intervals is only 4 minutes of actual exercise, not including the warm-up and cool-down stages).

I caught a cold a few days back due to the weather changing here in Florida (like I do this time every year) so I didn’t workout out at all for the past week.

My observations so far:

- The shorter workout duration makes it more enjoyable than even the PACE workout which is only 12 minutes long.  This Tabata workout was only 7 minutes long (INCLUDING warm-up and cool-down).

- I didn’t sweat much at all.  Compared to PACE, which isn’t exactly a drenched-in-sweat workout, this was probably do-able without even changing into workout clothes.  Maybe I didn’t pedal fast enough? (I couldn’t really pedal faster anyway if I tried – maybe the bike setting was too low…but my last PACE workout was at a 9 setting, and the bike only goes to 12, which is why I chose to start my Tabata workout at 8 to leave plenty of room for growth)

- The 10 seconds of rest between intervals is almost like not resting at all, but it is definitely welcome after going all out for 20 seconds.  By the 4th interval, that 20 seconds seemed like a LONG time!

That’s it for now – I plan on doing the workout at my current settings 3x per week until my Recovery Heart Rate improves, at which time I will first add another interval (bringing it up to 5 intervals) and then increasing the bike tension one notch.  This staggered progression is what Shawn Bennett recommended to me so I can continue to make progress.

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