A tabata workout is a form of High-Intensity Interval Training, also known as HIIT. Each workout is just four minutes long and is composed of eight sets of a 20/10 sequence. That sounds complicated, but it simply means that you perform one exercise for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, and then repeat that sequence eight times.
This gives you a fast but intense workout that can help you gain strength and build lean muscle. One study completed by the founder of Tabata, Dr. Izumi Tabata found that this simple, four-minute workout can deliver aerobic and anaerobic gains. The results that you see will depend on what exercises you include in your workouts and how consistent you are with your Tabata regime.
You probably already guessed that only working out for four minutes at a time is a benefit for many seniors, or anyone for that matter. Even if you perform extremely hard exercises during your workout, you know that you only have to sustain the 20/10 sequences for four minutes at a time. You may even extend this to four minutes and 20 seconds if you want to throw in one last round of your chosen exercise.
Another benefit is that you can perform Tabata anywhere and at any time of the day or night, so it fits your schedule. You don’t need a lot of equipment, so you don’t have to worry about spending money on your workout routine or storing dumbbells, balls, and treadmills in your home. You don't have to choose to get to the gym or pass on a workout.
A Tabata workout provides fun, enjoyment, versatility and and freedom. As long as you follow the 20/10 pattern, you can create your own workouts based on what muscles you want to work or what you feel like doing on any given day.
You can create your own Tabata sequence with any exercise that gets your heart rate up and that you can sustain for 20 seconds at a time. You can also include different exercises and rote them for each 20/10 sequence.
There are Tabata programs online that will give you some guidance for free. Here are links to a couple of our favorites that most seniors can perform safely:
Pick a Tabata sequence and give it a try. If you don’t like it, you only wasted four minutes of your day. How great is that? If you do like it, you have found a powerful weapon that can help you stay strong and fit as you age. You can experiment with different exercises and workouts until you find a few that you like to rotate.
Once you understand the Tabata method for exercise, the “I don’t have time” excuse is no longer a valid reason for skipping workouts. Maybe you don’t have time for a hike or an exercise class at the YMCA, but most of us can carve out four minutes of our day for an intense Tabata session.