GOTTA TABATA? Live Longer and Less Stressed With High-Intesity Intervals

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If you ask what is the single most important key to longevity, I would have to say it is avoiding worry, stress and tension. And if you didn’t ask me, I’d still have to say it.”.
-George F. Burns (1896-1996)

Want to learn how to live a full century (or more!) with a workout that will outlive the competition?  Then you’ve gotta Tabata!

Keep reading to learn what Tabata training is all about.

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celebrities, Will Smith, fitness


It’s likely that George Burns couldn’t perform a proper deadlift or sprint at top speed for more than 5 seconds. Nor did he have Matt McConaughey’s flawless core or  Will Smith’s beefed up bi’s, but he noticed a clear pattern to longevity. As he sailed gracefully into old age, younger, but very stressed-out people, worried themselves into illness and anxiety.

The Science of Stress

Stress starts deep inside your body, way below the worry lines on your face. At the ends of your chromosomes, in nearly every cell of your body, are bunches of DNA called telomeres. Longer telomeres are known to be correlated to a longer cellular lifespan. When experimenters block telomere deterioration, they significantly extend the lifespan of certain organisms. These may have been some mutant worms, but we think it’s worth paying attention to for humans too!

Chronic stress shortens telomeres, resulting in accelerated cellular aging. Shorter telomeres are also associated with a higher risk of death from heart disease and other inflammatory conditions. Should you stress out about your cellular aging? The answer is no, you shouldn’t, because we can mediate these stress-induced changes with some fantastic fitness techniques.

Tabata Time

According to a peer-reviewed study published on PLoS ONE Online, daily high intensity exercise, appears to correlate to longer telomeres. If you want to live longer and look younger, you absolutely must crank up the intensity!  One of the best ways to perform this type of high intensity interval training is the Tabata protocol.

Named for Izumi Tabata, the Japanese researcher who developed it, the Tabata Protocol involves a series of  short bursts of maximum intensity effort followed by periods of brief rest.  He used this to trian the Japanese Olympic Speed Skating Team, which should give you a frame of reference for how much this will kick your butt!

The Tabata Protocol

Step 1

The first step is to choose an exercise.  Pick a single exercise that you know you can perform safely, and that challenges several large muscle groups at once. Running, rowing, push-presses, and front squats are all great suggestions, but you’re free to choose whatever exercise works multiple muscle groups at once.

Step 2

If you choose a resistance exercise, the next step is to decide on the amount of weight you’re going to use. If you chose a cardio exercise, the next step is to select a resistance setting. If you’re using a weight, don’t even think about to using anything heavy; it won’t happen; trust us!  Even the strongest gym rats can get in over their heads by using a weight that’s too heavy for Tabata training. You will also need a timer (here’s one for your iPhone) or clock with a second hand.

Step 3

Now that you’ve chosen an exercise, an appropriate amount of weight, and have a timer, here’s what you’re supposed to do;

  1. 20 seconds of all out effort (as many reps as you can do with good form)
  2. 10 seconds rest (breathe deep and focus…10 seconds goes by really fast)
  3. 8x (perform the 20/10 interval for 8 rounds)

Although this will only take a total of 4 minutes, it will FEEL like 4 hours!  (That means you’re doing it right) Check out this VIDEO below and watch the sweat marks and grimaces grow!

Live longer with less stress, not to mention a killer body from your Tabata time!

Jason Agnello
Certified Personal Trainer
Equinox Fitness Clubs NYC

What’s your favorite stress-buster at the gym?

1 Comment

Filed under Workouts

One response to “GOTTA TABATA? Live Longer and Less Stressed With High-Intesity Intervals

  1. EL

    EDIT – If you’re using a weight, don’t even think about “TO” using anything heavy;

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