Thursday, 23 February 2012

Effective training method: 4 minutes of hell!

After the 4 minutes of training
Sometimes if you are like me there does not seem to be any time left for training. Work, family and whatever takes up a lot of time and so natuarally your training time dissapears. Faced with this problem I have been on a quest for finding methods that are effective and yet little time consuming. A few months back I found one real treasure when it comes to Taekwondo and that is the Tabata method.

The Tabata method was discovered in Japan by the now famous Dr. Izumi Tabata and his colleagues at the Japanese Institute of Fitness and Sport in 96/97.

Bear with me here, I am not an expert on the subject I just know that it works. If you want full proof expert opinion of the following paragraph please look up an expert. I am just a normal guy:-)
Those who know something about endurance know that we divide endurance in two catagories: Anaerob and Aerob endurance. Aerob endurance is for prolonged low intensity work (for example jogging). While this is good to have for life quality and health reasons it is not important in a Taekwondo viewpoint .Sparring, poomsae and self defense are short and intensive activities, wich brings us to the other catagory namely Anaerob. Here we use so much energy and oxygen that we can not maintain the oxygen supply to the muscles. You become short breathed and tired. The ability to work hard over time with and increasingly lower oxygen supply is anaerob endurance. This is for short but intensive work and this is the kind of endurance we should as Taekwondoin focus most of our endurance work on.

The Tabata method is great in that it actually trains both kinds of endurance:-D It has been shown to have great effect in a short space of time. The method itself is really simple (and I just love simple). You basicly do any excercise that uses big/major musclegroups (burpee, training bike, squats etc) use your imagination and work that excercise like if you are trying to take your body apart(!). Do it like a crazyman and go crazy with it. For only 20 seconds:-) Then rest 10 seconds doing nothing, and then 20 seconds of crazyness again. Do this for 8 reps wich gives you a 4 minute workout that trains both kinds of endurance and that also seems to be good for weightloss. You should be somewhat in shape before attempting this as you will really stress your body with this method, but a 4 minute workout is so short that you can easily slide it in in your busy schedule.

In the original testing of the method Dr. Tabata used the method for 6 weeks on a test group of allready fit athletes. The results of the test was incredible as Dr. Tabata and his colleagues noted a 28% increase in anaerobic capacity in their subjects, along with a 14% increase in their aerobic ability. Do I need to remind you that the subjects were allready well trained athletes??

This also completly change my structure on the classes I teach. I can now do Tabata method training toward the end of class to give the students a functional endurance training without it "stealing" time that could be used to teach or practise skills that they need.

Many instructors in Traditional martial arts have stopped trying to learn new ways to impart their martial teachings to the next generation and rather seem stuck in the 1950-70s when it comes to training methods. I think this is a great shame. Look at modern MMA athletes. There are many things we can learn from them (and the other way around) and one of them is the importance of conditioning. They are lightyears away form us in that they activly try to find more and more effective ways to train. We should look at all sports and see if we can learn something and include this in our training. "Traditional" is for some to preserve the ashes of what was, while for me and others it is to keep that flame alive and burning well. Think of what camp you are in and decide if that is were you truly want to be.

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