Tabata Tips for Beginners

Featured Article, Fitness, Workout Plans
on April 2, 2012
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This trendy, fast-moving interval workout will increase your endurance and strength in a matter of minutes. Jason Culbreth, owner of Forged Fitness in Raleigh, NC, shares his insider tips to help you master Tabata.

1. Anyone can do It. Whether you are a workout pro or just getting off the couch, you can do Tabata, Culbreth says. “Tabata can fit anyone’s fitness style, because you choose the workout and the pace. You are competing against yourself, and therefore naturally listening to your body.”

2. Wait on weights. If you are a beginner, start with weight-bearing exercises, like the ones in Jason’s workout. Once you have mastered them, you can apply Tabata principles to weight machines, free weights, kettle bells, and resistance bands. Starting with body weight exercises helps you focus on your form and reduces the chances you’ll overwork your muscles early on.

3. Start slow. No matter the activity you choose for your Tabata sets, you can expect to feel the burn during and after. The rule: try not to overdo it on your first go. “You will naturally want to go all out during your first workout, but this can leave you limping home—and not coming back for another workout for days,” Culbreth says.

4. Focus on Form. If you concentrate too much on increasing your reps, your form may suffer, and lack of proper alignment—keeping your knees behind your toes when you squat, for example—can lead to injury. More reps aren’t worth it if they are done poorly, so stay focused on form.

5. Ramp it up. When you’re ready to add oomph to your Tabata set, make the most of your 10-second rest periods. “If you are doing a squat set, try jumping jacks during your rest period to stretch out your legs and up your cardio benefits,” Culbreth says. Or try stretching during the rest period to stay limber and reduce chances of injury.

6. Try a timer. If it’s tough to count the seconds of your sets, try a Tabata timer. There are several Tabata timer apps and websites that help you keep track of your workout. Try