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  1. #1
    Back in the Sooner State
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    Anyone using Tabata intervals?

    I've been reading up a bit on different interval workouts and stumbled on a study that appears to have been peer reviewed at least to some extent. Basically, the crux of Tabata's research is that intervals structured with 20s on and 10s off in sets of 6-8 lead to relatively large increases in both aerobic and anaerobic fitness. I'm a relatively strong cat 5 that's ridden for years and I'm finally getting to do some more consistent racing this year. I'm not expecting to cat up to 3s by the end of the year with something like this, but I am curious to see if anyone has used this method and what the results were, if any.

  2. #2
    Struggling at the Back Ghostman's Avatar
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    Tabata Style Intervals
    by The Bike Messenger
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Published: 02/07/2007
    In the never ending need to ride my bicycle too hard, too early, I decided to throw in a couple heavy-duty intervals into tonights workout...and since the news is sparse, I thought I'd share my thoughts on the workout with my readers.

    So here's what I did. I did the entire workout on a CompuTrainer, in ergometer mode, with the intervals and wattages pre-set. I did not strictly adhere to the TRUE Tabata protocol which I believe is 8-10 all-out efforts and you're basically done which would make for a very short training session (too short!).

    First, what is a "Tabata" interval? The Tabata protocol was developed by a Japanese Doctor by the last name of Tabata. So the story goes...the Tabata protocol is said to tax both the aerobic and anaerobic pathways to their maximum, which results in unprecedented improvement in anaerobic and aerobic capacity over the period of the study.

    Ok, sounds great - where do I sign up? So I experimented on a couple recent tempo rides - just to get a feel for times, wattages, etc. Here's what I came up with...

    ** 30 Min. Warmup / Tempo:


    10 Min. Warmup (150-190 watts)
    15 Min. Tempo (220 watts)
    5 Min. Rest Spin (150 watts)
    ** Start 1st set consisting of Tabata Intervals (6 in a row = ~2 minutes of work time per set):
    18 seconds starting at 350 watts, climbing to peak around 600 watts, and going back down to 350 watts to finish the 18 second "all-out" effort. I was out of the saddle for the peak near 600 watts, seated for the beginning and end. (350-600 watts)
    12 second rest interval spinning lightly (110 watts)
    **7 minute spin at 150 watts

    ** Start 2nd set consisting of 6 Tabata Intervals

    Same 18 sec. on / 12 sec. off protocol
    Same wattage range as above
    Stayed seated for most of the intervals
    **7 minute spin at 150 watts

    ** Start 3rd set consisting of 6 Tabata Intervals

    Alright! That was a good workout...it was hard, but I finished all intervals. This always seems to be an issue when using the pre-programmed ergometer mode on the CompuTrainer -- that it either makes your intervals too hard or to easy. Until you really have your wattage zones dialed in and continue to monitor them, it's difficult to get ergo workouts setup correctly. I like the ergometer mode because it is almost like a coach standing there yelling at you not letting you quit. It has no mercy, there is no "letting up", there is not "soft pedaling". It's raw, unadulterated power to the cranks.

    Below is a chart of my CompuTrainer session where you can see some of the specifics of my workout. For instance: A good indicator as to how hard the Tabata efforts were by how much my cadence drops at the end of the 6th 18-second interval because I'm just cooked and essentially stopped pedaling altogether for a few seconds...



    CONCLUSION...

    My first question is, can I really make any valid conclusions from having completed one fantastic interval workout? Probably not, but oh well...here we go.

    The feeling I had at the end of each set was reminiscent of any criterium where I was way overmatched. By the 6th interval my heart rate was through the roof, I was breathing pretty heavy, and I was having trouble putting out powerful strokes.

    Essentially what it felt like was a 3 minute VO2 max interval, that instead of being done at a steady 330 watts, was done by having intermittent periods of work and rest, which in the end, may have a similar (but slightly different?) metabolic effect on the body. By the end of each set 6 intervals (3 total minutes, including rest periods), my heartrate was approaching maximum (within 0 to 5 beats of max hr).

    Overall, I think I'll try to use these again in my training. They are very specific to the demands that are required for criterium racing. SpokePost.com gives the Tabata inteval protocol a "5 chain-link rating" (whatever that is, we don't have a rating system, but if we did, it would be something silly like that).

    Thanks for reading this jabber.
    "Hot and overcast. I take my gear out of the car and put my bike together. Tourists and locals are watching from the sidewalk cafes. Non-racers. The emptiness of those lives shocks me."

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  3. #3
    Senior Member ccrnnr9's Avatar
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    I have only read one study where the effects of the tabata intervals on VO2 max were studied and it used suibjects that were less than "trained". They were not sedentary but their initial VO2max numbers were by no means an indication that they were in much form either. With a situation like this, I think any sort of intense training will help to increase vo2max. Try searching pubmed for more resources. I am interested as to what you find.
    ~Nick

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    Thanks for the reference...

    Thanks for including a reference to the original article and not just wholesale pasting it in here - OH WAIT, that's what you did.

    Please see original article here:
    http://spokepost.com/news/story/1746/

  5. #5
    ub3r n00b Youngin's Avatar
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    These are fun . I do them with the rowing team. Done right, they can be incredibly painful.

  6. #6
    My idea of fun kensuf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Youngin View Post
    These are fun . I do them with the rowing team. Done right, they can be incredibly painful.
    And make you strong.
    Putting the Duh in Floriduh.

  7. #7
    Senior Member slim_77's Avatar
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    I've used them this year, for the last two weeks (this is my third) to train my recovery and top end. I've not raced enough to conclude anything, but anyone that has done them know that they really make you suffer--and thats a big part of bike racing: attacking, bridging, last lap, etc./suffering.
    gravity: it's not just a good idea, it's the law.

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    variations of them, yes. but not every week or for prolonged weeks on end as my body stagnates if doing those + racing + group rides.

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    Senior Member SwimBike's Avatar
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    I do microburst...similar. 15sec on @500w 15 sec off sub 150w. Do this for 10 mins, 5 min rest, rinse and repeat.

    They hurt like hell.

  10. #10
    VeloSIRraptor
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    they are wonderful at making me stronger-
    and they are the one thing I dread seeing on my workout sheet when that day shows up
    Quote Originally Posted by shovelhd View Post
    If it comes down to a field sprint, you probably won't win, so don't let it.

  11. #11
    One speed: FAST ! fordfasterr's Avatar
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    I will try them on my next interval training session.
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  12. #12
    Back in the Sooner State
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    Heh. Since I started this thread I've incorporated them into my speed work in the early season with a decent amount of success. Haven't done a set in a while due to a relatively lazy May and a midweek race series in June, plus racing on the weekends.

    We have a baby on the way any day now, but after a couple of months or so I plan to use them again to get ready for cross this winter. I found that they worked well for me when used in tandem with other speed work during the week. I'll usually alternate weeks, too, and replace Tabatas with more traditional sprint interval work. 1 day of intervals plus 1 day of steady state work seems to be enough speed work for me at the moment.

  13. #13
    My idea of fun kensuf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ImprezaDrvr View Post
    Heh. Since I started this thread I've incorporated them into my speed work in the early season with a decent amount of success. Haven't done a set in a while due to a relatively lazy May and a midweek race series in June, plus racing on the weekends.

    We have a baby on the way any day now, but after a couple of months or so I plan to use them again to get ready for cross this winter. I found that they worked well for me when used in tandem with other speed work during the week. I'll usually alternate weeks, too, and replace Tabatas with more traditional sprint interval work. 1 day of intervals plus 1 day of steady state work seems to be enough speed work for me at the moment.
    I found that doing one set of tabatas, early in the morning, a few days of week in conjunction with regular intervals had me flying within a few weeks.
    Putting the Duh in Floriduh.

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    I've been doing it on the treadmill at a 12% incline and 7.5-8.0 MPH. I've gotten much faster at running and been shedding weight faster than anything else.

  15. #15
    Overacting because I can SpongeDad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tzarbomba View Post
    I've been doing it on the treadmill at a 12% incline and 7.5-8.0 MPH. I've gotten much faster at running and been shedding weight faster than anything else.
    do you jump on and off the treadmill? None of the treadmills I've been on would allow me to shift incline or speed fast enough to pull off a tabata interval.
    “Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm." (Churchill)

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  16. #16
    Packfodding 3 caloso's Avatar
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    Hmm. I am intrigued. I've been doing 1 min. on, 1 min. off intervals. They hurt. These sound even more painful.
    Cyclists of the world, unite! You have nothing to lube but your chains!

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    Senior Member euphoria's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SpongeDad View Post
    do you jump on and off the treadmill? None of the treadmills I've been on would allow me to shift incline or speed fast enough to pull off a tabata interval.
    seriously, my 3 y.o. ultegra is barely quick enough to handle it

  18. #18
    Lanky G-Raf
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    Tabatas are simply amazing. Nothing gets the lungs burning quite like 'em. I felt a serious improvement doing just 3 tabata intervals once a week for 4 weeks.
    Triton Cycling, UC San Diego (grad student)

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  19. #19
    Cat 666 fatallightning's Avatar
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    I do. I'm having difficulties finding the right cadence to get my heart rate up before the legs go kaput. I usually do standing sprints and my legs blow before I can hit zone 5 heart rates. I tried sitting and spinning sprints, hit zone 5 on rep 5 or so. Legs didn't feel as fazed though, not sure which I should focus more on.
    “Oh man, it’s going to take days to kill all these people!” - jens voigt
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  20. #20
    umd
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    Quote Originally Posted by fatallightning View Post
    I do. I'm having difficulties finding the right cadence to get my heart rate up before the legs go kaput. I usually do standing sprints and my legs blow before I can hit zone 5 heart rates. I tried sitting and spinning sprints, hit zone 5 on rep 5 or so. Legs didn't feel as fazed though, not sure which I should focus more on.
    Why does it matter what your HR is doing? This doesn't seem like the kind of workout (short intervals) you can do by HR, it doesn't respond fast enough.

  21. #21
    Cat 666 fatallightning's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by umd View Post
    Why does it matter what your HR is doing? This doesn't seem like the kind of workout (short intervals) you can do by HR, it doesn't respond fast enough.
    I would think so, but when in doubt... I thought I had read somewhere that you should be hitting zone 5 by the end. I guess it's more an issue if I should be trying to burn my legs off or choke a lung up when "on." Or somehow find the magic equilibrium that smashes both.
    “Oh man, it’s going to take days to kill all these people!” - jens voigt
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    Quote Originally Posted by SpongeDad View Post
    do you jump on and off the treadmill? None of the treadmills I've been on would allow me to shift incline or speed fast enough to pull off a tabata interval.
    yeah I just jump off and stand over the moving belt.


    The treadmills at my gym has incline... you don't have to run that fast at all if you can jack up the incline.

  23. #23
    Senior Member tanhalt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fatallightning View Post
    I would think so, but when in doubt... I thought I had read somewhere that you should be hitting zone 5 by the end. I guess it's more an issue if I should be trying to burn my legs off or choke a lung up when "on." Or somehow find the magic equilibrium that smashes both.
    Here's how you do Tabatas if you don't have a power meter (assuming you're doing the 6-7 repeats of 20s "on"/ 10s "off", as the study outlined):

    Do the first 2 or 3 just slightly less than "as hard as you can go"...the the last 4 are done "as hard as you can go"

  24. #24
    Senior Member tanhalt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ryon View Post
    Tabatas are simply amazing. Nothing gets the lungs burning quite like 'em. I felt a serious improvement doing just 3 tabata intervals once a week for 4 weeks.
    Try doing 6-7 intervals, 5-6X per week for 6 weeks. That's the study protocol

  25. #25
    Packfodding 3 caloso's Avatar
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    I tried these at the end of this morning's tempo ride. A couple observations:

    1) I need to set the audible alarms on my watch because at 100% effort, I can't read the numbers very well.
    2) I shouldn't do these on the road. Either the trainer or find a lightly traveled section of the bike trail.
    3) Wow, that hurt.
    Cyclists of the world, unite! You have nothing to lube but your chains!

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