Ok, before you label me as a complete douchebag, let me explain why I think Tabata vs. HIIT is not a proper question to ask 🙂 You see, if the question had been, what is Tabata and what is HIIT, then it would have been ok. The problem is the “vs.”
Simply said, it would be the same as asking, “BMW vs. car.”
Ok, now let’s get serious and have a closer look at what we mean by Tabata and HIIT and turn the bad question Tabata vs. HIIT into a better question.
High-intensity interval training is a way of working out where we work in intervals with very high intensity.
Despite what many might think, this is not a new method. It actually has been around for many years, but it was with the introduction of CrossFit that it became really popular.
How to do HIIT
As mentioned above, we work in intervals with very high intensity. Let me give you some examples of the intervals.
Work 30sec, then rest 30sec for 8 rounds
Work 1min, then rest 30sec for 6 rounds
Work 3min, then rest 1min for 3 rounds
Work 20sec, then rest 10sec for 8 rounds
One of the reasons why HIIT has been proven to be efficient even though you only work for a very short time, compared to traditional aerobic sessions, is that the intensity is high.
How high, you might ask? Very high, is the answer 🙂
To be honest, this is actually one of the biggest mistakes that people are doing when working out according to a HIIT template. They simply don’t have a high enough intensity, meaning that the heart rate is not high enough.
Of course it depends on what kind of protocol you select, but in general, your heart rate should be somewhere between 85-100% of your max heart rate. At least if you want to get all the benefits that HIIT have become famous for delivering.
The benefits of HIIT
If done correctly, according to the above, the list of benefits is long. Some of them are:
• Time efficient: High-intensity workouts will normally be carried out in less than 15 minutes, and as lack of time is the number one excuse for not working out, this is a big advantage.
• Improved cardiorespiratory fitness: Compared to steady aerobic sessions high-intensity workouts have proven to improve the cardiorespiratory fitness levels much more efficiently.
• Better blood sugar control: High-intensity workouts increases the production of mitochondria which are the cells power supply. One of the many benefits of a healthy and good production of mitochondria is, a better control of the blood sugar which again can help to avoid problems like obesity, cardiovascular diseases, demens, diabetes and several forms of cancer.
• Lower blood pressure: Again high-intensity workouts have shown to have a higher impact than steady aerobic workouts.
• Efficient fat burning & weight control: Probably this and the time factor is the major reason why everybody wants to do high-intensity workouts. On the simple site, HIIT has shown not to heighten the appetite as long as aerobic sessions normally do. However, what is even more interesting is that HIIT produces high amounts of adrenaline and noradrenalin which also goes under the name catecholamine. High levels of catecholamine will boost your metabolism even when you rest, and interesting enough catecholamine seems to be good in burning the fat around your belly.
Aerobic or anaerobic
The final thing I will touch upon before explaining about Tabata is the different energy-generating processes of our muscles during a workout.
Inside our muscles, there is energy stored which will be utilized for the very short and hard workouts like sprinting and jumping. The shorter HIIT workouts will mainly be anaerobic.
In the 80’s, we learned about aerobic. The aerobic energy-generating process is for longer workouts, and the oxygen that we breathe in is the main fuel.
Any workout will be a combination of anaerobic and aerobic metabolic condition. There will never just be one condition present. However, for the shorter workouts which most HIIT workouts are, the anaerobic condition will be most active.
Finally, what is Tabata then?
Tabata is a HIIT routine with the following interval scheme:
Work 20sec, then rest 10sec for a total of 8 rounds.
There you go 🙂
Tabata was developed by the Japanese Doctor Izumi Tabata.
Basically what he found was that by working out according to the above scheme vs. a traditional 1-hour aerobic session, the athletes improved their anaerobic and aerobic fitness level much better than by the traditional method.