I crossed a new fitness threshold last week when I added Tabata — a High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) protocol — to my water workout. My 30 minute workout not only boosted my cardiovascular system, but also strengthened my core, my arms, and my legs. And it put me on Cloud Nine for the rest of the morning.
And, of course I sweated (pardon the clickbait!), but being in the water happily masked that fact and kept me cool while I amped up the volume on my workout.
How HIIT Works
You’ll be working at a very intense level and then backing off for a slower recovery period, followed by another round of high intensity.Kara Meyer Robinson, Web MD
When I was a certified fitness instructor, I incorporated HIIT segments in the cardio portions of my classes, both in the studio and in the pool. It’s a relative newcomer to the exercise business, made popular by its efficiency — it HIITs a lot of fitness targets in a relatively short amount of time — and the variety it gives to a workout.
Researchers have found that HIIT improves both cardiovascular and muscular performance for trained athletes as well as individuals with coronary artery disease. I wanted to add it to my exercise routine in the water which was feeling a bit boring. When exercise isn’t fun, it becomes work.
The HIIT Tabata program
I thought that tabata might be a Portuguese dance, like capoeira. But, no, it’s the last name of the Japanese scientist who developed it in 1996.
Tabata training was discovered by Japanese scientist Dr. Izumi Tabata and a team of researchers from the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo.Fara Ronsenzweig, Active
The structure of Tabata is 8 rounds of 20 seconds fast, 10 seconds slow. You can do any sort of movement as long as you can keep from flailing on the fast part. In the pool, I jogged, did jumping jacks and cross-country skiing, and leg lifts, working my muscles as my arms and legs pushed through the water and working my heart and lungs as I varied the tempo.
Exercise in a given Tabata workout lasts only four minutes, but it’s likely to be one of the longest four minutes you’ve ever endured.Fara Ronsenzweig, Active
It’s important to listen to your body: only you decide how fast or slow you go. That’s one of the things I really like about Tabata: you go at your own pace.
However, yes, those 4 minutes can seem an eternity, and I need to be inspired to keep going. You can find loads of pre-recorded music that tells you when to GO and when to SLOW so that all you do is …. work! Here’s Bruno Mars’ Uptown Funk a la Tabata which I enjoyed during my workout. There are also timers that keep the count for you.
The HIIT afterglow
High intensity workouts can leave you with a nice buzz. Yesterday’s 30-minute Tabata session in the pool left me feeling confident, calm, and serene. It’s endorphins, researchers say. However, I will listen to the experts (and my husband) and not burn myself out.