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The talk about Tabata

2 min read
Tabata is the name of the lead researcher who let a study on a particular exercise protocol in the late 1990s.
Later, it became known as the Tabata protocol, turning into a fitness and training buzzword. 
What ensued was a smorgasbord of Tabata workouts and marketing exposure, followed by rants and raves... including arguments about what is and what is not Tabata. 
What led to its rapid popularity? In short, because it was short… In time.
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The original study showed that with just four minutes of exercise using a Tabata protocol, the results were superior to traditional one hour exercise sessions.
But what did not become as popular are some of the facts present in the original and subsequent research.
This protocol was originally developed for speed skaters. Not just any speed skater, but elite athletes… Members of the Japanese speed skating team.
And elite athletes, by definition, can do things ordinary people cannot.
One of these things, is the ability to push their bodies to extreme levels of physical output.
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The sentinel study applied this protocol to 22-24 year old young collegiate athletes. 
They had to do 7-8 bouts of 20 second sprints on an exercise bike with 10 seconds of rest in between.
But the intensity required during the 20 seconds was far-reaching, at 170% of the participants maximum ability to use oxygen. It’s an extremely high and hard to attain intensity.
So hard that achieving it in the real world was cited as being unrealistic.
The results were also specific to cycling, which at high intensity, causes high concentrations of lactate build up. 
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Exercises such as running and other whole body exercises do not result in as high of lactate levels.
All of this translates into mixed results.
The majority of which show that Tabata training, with the correspondingly correct high intensity, is about as effective as traditional, longer duration exercise for aerobic fitness...
But not for weight loss.