View Full Version : Long Tabattas

Brandon Enos
03-18-2008, 12:13 PM
Anybody do long tabattas of one exercise? Ie, 20 or 30 minutes of tabatta running, rowing, swiming, etc. I may be going to a sheriff academy in August. While Im strong and all, my conditioning is lacking. So in order to tackle this situation, I was going to take advantage of gym access I have and do some sort of cardio everyday. Ie, swimming one day, rowing the next, then go for a run outside the day after that, next day row again, etc ec. This would be every day, Mon-Fri, the earlier the better. Im keeping my strength training at 3 days a week, doing a 5x5 program for right now and will be in that for about 3 more weeks.

Im asking about the long tabattas because I know interval sprint work is the best option, and out of what Ive tried, tabattas have been my favorites, just never done one longer than 10 minutes. My main question I guess is, is 5 days of 20 or 30 minute tabatta work to much? But, as a note, for the next week or maybe two, just to get my conditioning up a little, Ill probably only be doing 10 or 15 minute tabattas.

Garrett Smith
03-18-2008, 01:56 PM
My take on Tabatas is that if you can do more than the recommended 6-8 intervals (ie. 3-4 minutes), you aren't going anywhere near hard enough on the "go" intervals.

From http://cbass.com/Sprintendurance.htm:
My friend Richard Winett, PhD, publisher of Master Trainer, was one of the first in this country--perhaps the first--to write about Dr. Izume Tabata’s groundbreaking research published in 1996, on short, intense intervals. Dr. Tabata and his colleagues at the National Institute of Health & Nutrition, Tokyo, Japan, reported: "[Six to 8 very hard 20 second intervals with 10 second rest periods] may be one of the best possible training protocols…” Dr. Tabata told Dick Winett in a personal communication: "The rate of increase in VO2max [14% in only 6 weeks] is one of the highest ever reported in exercise science." What’s more, anaerobic capacity increased by a whopping 28%.

You should be spent at the end. Otherwise, go harder and save your training time for something else.

Or you could do Tabata intervals of different calisthenics or multiple types of your chosen endurance activities.

Gant Grimes
03-18-2008, 02:48 PM
I second this advice.

Dr. Tabata chose 6-8 rounds, but said several of his subjects failed to start the 8th round. That's why I did 6 rounds for my experiment (so I could have meaningful measurement). Most people flatline after five rounds, so there's no point in going beyond that.

Not every exercise is suited for Tabata. Stick with bodyweight movements, and you'll be fine (although Dan John has reported some success with Tab front squats).

If you do these properly, you should be hurting after 3 rounds and dead after 4. Rounds 5, 6, and beyond are roughly the same (which makes longer workouts unnecessary and possibly counterproductive).

It will be "fun" the first week. It will suck the second and third weeks, and you'll have trouble recovering from your workouts (assuming you do other stuff). They will hurt in weeks four and five, and you'll wonder why you're doing this to yourself. Then the clouds will part. You'll have improved recovery capacity (in all areas), and you'll look forward to these workouts. You'll also have a little "edge" throughout the day and feel a little sharper.

I tell everyone who will listen (which is about three people) that Tabatas have the best ROI of any exercise protocol (I cringe every time I see GTG recommended for increasing pullup and pushup numbers). Unfortunately they are misused, misunderstood, and/or underutilized. After much prodding, I'm going to write an article summarizing others' research and my own personal experiment.

Garrett Smith
03-18-2008, 03:03 PM
Listen to Gant, the Tabata expert.

I'm thoroughly looking forward to that article!

Gittit Shwartz
03-18-2008, 03:21 PM
I second that one, Gant!

Brandon Enos
03-18-2008, 04:41 PM
Then this raises some other questions.

A, wouldnt doing tabatta work with body weight exercises hinder my strength training? While cardio is going to become my main concern, I dont want to lose strength.

B, Also, how should I incorporate running and swimming into my schedules? Running because in the academy, we're going to be running 3-4 miles a day, Mon-Fri. I havent ran (besides the last week and a half) since high school, so about 3 years. Swimming because I love it, did it all through high school, and what to do more of it. Plus, as I said, rather I use it or not, I have the access to the gym, but since I already have BBs, KBs, and sandbags, I dont need it for strength, only conditioning.

Garrett Smith
03-18-2008, 05:59 PM
In terms of "conditioning", have you read the CFJ on "What About Cardio?" (https://store.crossfit.com/cgi-bin/cp-app.cgi?usr=51F5044990&rnd=9520118&rrc=N&affl=&cip=

Train for your goal, since you currently have a specific one.

Figure out what to train for the testing and the majority of what is done in the academy. Prioritize your training around that and then re-add in what you *want* to do. It sounds like running needs to be of a high priority right now, even if you sacrifice a little strength (which I don't think has to happen).

Personally, I only see swimming as taking up energy/recovery for you at this point. You can always resume swimming for fun in the future, after you've made the department, or doing maybe one swim workout a week interspersing bodyweight exercises CF style (for "conditioning").

Definitely read the POSE articles at www.posetech.com and the Gordon Pirie e-book on running form at www.gordonpirie.com--I just recently had to work on a guy in the local FFer academy, his shins were killing him. A single laser treatment and some advice on his running form, I haven't seen him back (I assume the problem was fixed).

Eyes on the prize. Train accordingly, knowing that this is only temporary.

Allen Yeh
03-19-2008, 03:37 AM
Everything I was going to say has pretty much been said. Very long Tabata's just turn out to be sub-par 20/10 intervals. There was some video on the CrossFit page showing 2 people doing Tabata something else but they were both pacing in order to get a high score at the end. So they'd shoot for a specific number then quit, even if the 20 seconds wasn't up. I tried it that way and sure I'm getting a better score, but that's not the point of doing Tabata's is it?

RE: Tabata front squats - These are evil and cannot be done very often. I've done it twice, ever. I actually have to build up the courage to do these. These have given me the most significant cases of DOMS other than when I used to do some crazy/stupid stuff in my bodybuilding phase. 95#'s is plenty for a first time, and make sure you have a rack.

Running wise - Take a look at this link, James Evans was kind enough to write up this really detailed running program for me. The goal was 5 miles at a 7-8 minute/mile pace. This program actually gave me a running base that I never really established when I was younger.

James Evans
03-19-2008, 05:13 AM
I think the comments above are spot on. For the average person just wanting to get fit, lose a bit of weight and generally feel better about themselves I would encourage them to do something they enjoy. If you love cycling why feel that you have to run? I know it sounds stupid but people often think that running is the best way, indeed the only way to get in shape (I think about this a lot when I mull over the whole endurance question).

But, consider the analogy of the soccer player who really loved swimming and focused on that over running. Of course he never got any faster and his sport specific fitness was way off.

If your going to have to run for a period of time passing tests at different stages, get your runs in. Don't let swimming get in the way.

I know this wasn't your original question but I'm fascinated by how often I see people writing:

"I've got to pass a 5 mile run test, how do I do it?" Err, run?

"I have entered a 10k, can I train with just kettlebells?" No.

"I will be entering the Artic Warfare school in 3 months and need to be able to run 5km in under 25 minutes in full kit. Will my regular ping pong workouts cover the bases?" WTF?

It's a sacrifice but only for a short while so ditch what you don't need. You can still use easy swimming for recovery work.

Regarding the programme I posted for Allen, this was based on runs that I do myself and responsive to the location I live in, my dislike of both track work and complicated training routines layed down by serious runners and the need to gradually rebuild the running base after any period of lay off. I've been rethinking this through the last few months after I returned to running after a sprained ankle, too many late nights at work and a nasty bout of 'flu at the tail end of last year. Now I would recommend something like this:

A) Gradually progressive steady running

B) Interval or speed work

Alternate the 2 sessions and aim for 3-4 runs a week.

A) would start at 20 minutes and build to about an hour. I roughly know how long any route will take me around the area I live so I can either select a course or choose a time frame ie it could be A-to-B-to-A roughly taking 28 mins or a run of 25 minutes where you stop the moment that time is elapsed. You gradually built distance/time but it doesn't have to be a complete upward curve. Cut back on the odd session to save yourself.

B) Lots of options for this. One minute on (hard), one minute recovery walks for 30 minutes. Lamp post sprints where you sprint to one object and then recover on the way to the next. 10 x 50 metre sprints. Hill work. Set runs over 1, 1.5, 2 miles where you aim to beat your best time. Couple I've tried recently include:

1 minute running, 1 minute walk, 2 minutes running, 1 minute walk, 3 minutes running, 1 minute walk x5. Vary the terrain and push the pace up but your aiming to get through the session while leaving very little in the tank. It's a good way of getting to know how your body feels at a given moment, whether you are setting a pace you can hold for a sustained effort etc.

Run gently for 5 minutes to a suitable hill (the one I chose was possibly a bit steep). Run as fast you can up the hill for 1 minute then walk back down to recover, repeat for 6-12 reps and then cool down with 5 minutes of jogging. That was one of the nastiest things I've done in long while

Be flexible, if you are feeling grotty slip in a gentle 20-25 minute substitute run and if you feel like you are coming back to life extend this session a little. MOD would be aghast but I sometimes extend the interval work to over an hour (although pretty infrequently).

I think this is where interval work of over 20 minutes is effective. I don't think extending tabatas in this manner is the way forward. Those 8 intervals were the whole point of Tabata's conclusions surely? CrossFit takes this a little further with the idea of 4 consecutive interval sets. Play around with it a little, try it with different exercises. As Gant says, somethings work, some don't. I find kb swings pretty easy but not push ups. Thrusters hurt and weighted squat variations are hellish. I think it's a fantastic protocol but I wouldn't want to do it everyday. A bit of variety is, if only mentally, a better way to go. Ross Enamait outlined a fantastic burpee interval programme:

http://www.stemlerfit.com/page16.htm Scroll down to the bottom of the page (and ignore the other rubbish I wrote)

and I've used this pretty well alongside strength work. I also spotted this yesterday:


and it may give you some ideas.

I've just seen your post on the CF board and hopefully what I've written here covers some of that ground too.

Anyway, as usual I'm going on for far too long.

Brandon Enos
03-19-2008, 11:00 AM
One last question I guess. Treadmill or street? In the acacemy, its going to be track, but at the times I work out, I wont have access to tracks during the times I want to work out.

I perfer (sp?) running outside, couple of reasons. Dont care for many people, and on good weather days, its nice. But as i said earlier, whether I use it or not, I do have free access to a gym and since Im a big guy (not fat, I do have a gut, but I also have a large frame) I was told running on tracks and treadmills is best since they will put less stress on my joints than the street. How true is this?

Also, if Im doing strength workouts Tue, Wed, Thur, Sat, and Sun nights (Mon and Fri arent options with work), doing my runnin Mon, Wed, and Fri mornings shouldnt be to much of a hinderence right? For strength, Im trying to decide between jumping on the CA WODs or doing the 'Tempering Phase' from Eric Cimrhanzel's Invincible Fitness (if you havent read it, I did find it pretty good, though if your deep in crossfit and CA, a lot if it will be repeated info). Those are basically like EDT (picking two or three exercises, setting te timer for 20-25 minutes, and just keep doing sets of 3-8 resp).

Gant Grimes
03-19-2008, 12:25 PM
Track or street.

Derek Simonds
03-19-2008, 01:48 PM
Outside is totally the way to go.

Are there trails around. I am not small so I prefer running on something other than concrete. Treadmills really aren't the same as running outside. They serve their purpose when you can't get outside because of weather.

I would be really careful with your recovery if you are going to do 3 running and 4 or 5 strength workouts. I would probably taper back to 2 strength workouts per week and then add them in if I was doing ok.

What James wrote is spot on. I just wrote a 5K training protocol for a 265 LB guy this morning and it was very similar to what James is talking about. Follow his advice.

James Evans
03-20-2008, 04:33 AM
Yeah, don't try and fit too much in or you'll just go nowhere. I would love to improve my 10km time, really build the strength of my hill work on the mountain bike, recover the sprinting speed that I had in my early 20s, hit 30 pullups, deadlift 3 times bodyweight....but I can't do these all at once.

Allen Yeh
03-20-2008, 08:44 AM
Outside is totally the way to go.

Are there trails around. I am not small so I prefer running on something other than concrete. Treadmills really aren't the same as running outside. They serve their purpose when you can't get outside because of weather.

I would be really careful with your recovery if you are going to do 3 running and 4 or 5 strength workouts. I would probably taper back to 2 strength workouts per week and then add them in if I was doing ok.

What James wrote is spot on. I just wrote a 5K training protocol for a 265 LB guy this morning and it was very similar to what James is talking about. Follow his advice.

To add a little bit onto what Derek said, you can do this a couple of ways.

Definitely go low volume, and add frequency rather than just trying to cram a whole bunch of volume into 2 days. Basically you'd be better off having 3 lighter volume days then squeezing 3 into 2.

Brandon Enos
03-20-2008, 01:52 PM
Yeah, I am looking at way to much haha. I think what Im going to do is follow the A/B split James put up 4 days a week. Mon-A, Tue-B, Thur-A, Fri-B. Then for strength, just do those Invincible Fitness, EDT spinoffs on Tue and Thur nights only. Then based on energy, time, etc, throw in a little bit of active recovery swimming on Wed, Sat, Sun. Seems like a good plan to me. Im no fitness specimen, but Im also not new to working out, just to running haha, so hopefully my body should be able to handle this so long as I pay attention and dont go overboard.