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I am a teacher, fitness/yoga instructor, runner, celebrity stalker, chocolate lover, embarrassing dancer, wine guzzler, can't-live-without-my-girlfriends kind of girl. I also have a collection of high heels that strongly outweighs my collection of runners. My goal is to find balance in my life through health and exercise- and when I say balance, I mean kicking ass in the gym and enjoying food, wine, family, friends, and basking in celebrity news. I hope you can help me in my journey and I hope that you, too can find balance!

Friday, 5 August 2011

H.I.I.T. me with your best shot.

My Mom bought me my birthday gift- 3 months early!!!! My iPod is pretty much dead, and I was afraid it would totally bum out on me one day in the middle of my fitness class, so I got a new iPod Touch!!! This is big news for me, as I've had the same 2nd generation Nano for-everrrr. (Side note: my students had to tell me what 2nd generation even meant. They made fun of me for having such an old piece of technology. Being made fun of is a daily occurrence as a high school teacher.)


As soon as I synched all my music to my new baby, I immediately downloaded an App that I've wanted for light years (read: a few months) called Tabata Pro.

Tabata... sounds nice. It isn't.
Tabata training is High Intensity Interval Training (H.I.I.T.) and recent studies have been all over this "trend". I quote "trend" because interval training is truly nothing new- athletes have been adding it to their endurance training for years. The difference is the effort in these intervals- a study by one of my old professors at McMaster University, Martin Gabala, has shown that all-out maximum effort in short bursts can be as effective for us as hours of moderate endurance activities.

Here's a small clip of the original article that has been featured in the New York Times, CBC's the National, Oxygen Magazine, Fashion (yes, Fashion Magazine), amongst many others.

“There was a time when the scientific literature suggested that the only way to achieve endurance was through endurance-type activities,” such as long runs or bike rides or, perhaps, six-hour swims, says Martin Gibala, PhD, chairman of the Department of Kinesiology at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada. But ongoing research from Gibala’s lab is turning that idea on its head. In one of the group’s recent studies, Gibala and his colleagues had a group of college students, who were healthy but not athletes, ride a stationary bike at a sustainable pace for between 90 and 120 minutes. Another set of students grunted through a series of short, strenuous intervals: 20 to 30 seconds of cycling at the highest intensity the riders could stand. After resting for four minutes, the students pedaled hard again for another 20 to 30 seconds, repeating the cycle four to six times (depending on how much each person could stand), “for a total of two to three minutes of very intense exercise per training session,” Gibala says.

Each of the two groups exercised three times a week. After two weeks, both groups showed almost identical increases in their endurance (as measured in a stationary bicycle time trial), even though the one group had exercised for six to nine minutes per week, and the other about five hours. Additionally, molecular changes that signal increased fitness were evident equally in both groups. “The number and size of the mitochondria within the muscles” of the students had increased significantly, Gibala says, a change that, before this work, had been associated almost exclusively with prolonged endurance training. Since mitochondria enable muscle cells to use oxygen to create energy, “changes in the volume of the mitochondria can have a big impact on endurance performance.” In other words, six minutes or so a week of hard exercise (plus the time spent warming up, cooling down, and resting between the bouts of intense work) had proven to be as good as multiple hours of working out for achieving fitness. The short, intense workouts aided in weight loss, too, although Gibala hadn’t been studying that effect. “The rate of energy expenditure remains higher longer into recovery” after brief, high-intensity exercise than after longer, easier workouts, Gibala says. Other researchers have found that similar, intense, brief sessions of exercise improve cardiac health, even among people with heart disease.
There’s a catch, though. Those six minutes, if they’re to be effective, must hurt. “We describe it as an ‘all-out’ effort,” Gibala says. You’ll be straying “well out of your comfort zone.”

Okay, so that wasn't a small clip. But take the time to read that- 6 to 9 MINUTES a week had just as much impact than others who exercised 5 HOURS a week. Again, the stipulation being that the minutes were "well outside your comfort zone"- meaning you are dying for those minutes. But hey, you save time. Another type of H.I.I.T. is Tabata Training, which is death. So, I made my gymmers do it.

And thus, my guinea pigs. Thursday nights at the gym I teach back-to-back classes: 1 hour of Pump and 1 hour of Bootcamp.

Bootcamp is one of my favourite classes to teach. We have a tiny fitness studio, but we make it work. Think ladders, tires, BOSU Balls, Lebert Equalizers, Medicine Balls, Stability Balls (lots of balls up in hurrrr), skipping ropes, heavy bags... we do it all. Interval-style.

I got my new TABATA PRO App and set up 10 stations:

1. Heavy Bag Front Kicks
2. Lebert Equalizer Chin Ups
3. Skipping
4. Push Ups (this was MEAN as I found out to do so soon after chin ups)
5. BOSU Ball Split Squats
6. Mountain Climbers
7. Toe Taps on the Step
8. Jumping Lunges
9. Medicine Ball (5kg) Wall Throw Sit Ups
10. Jumping Jacks

These are pretty standard exercises, but I wanted to keep it simple for the Tabata Training.

Each station we go all out for 30 seconds, and then get a 10 second break. This was repeated for a total of 6 times each station, and we got a 90 second break in between each station (or Tabata). Your goal is to go all out for those 30 seconds and to try to maintain the same number of reps in each 30 seconds.

To break this down into One Tabata for you: In the first 30 seconds of my push up station, I did 20 push ups.

Times 6.

120 push ups.

In 3 minutes.

I wanted to die.

And I had no one to blame but myself.

And then I moved on to jumping squats on the BOSU. Oh. My. God. 

My bootcampers are always hardcore and they were going crazy. They loved it but hated it at the same time- the perfect combination, if you ask me :)

The Tabata Pro was so amazing- it syncs to your Playlists and you can program your Tabatas how you wish- either with a workout coach, with a buzzer, etc. I had the music playing for 30 seconds and then it stopped for 10 to signal a break.

It is like a game changer for me: normally I'm watching the clock, setting my watch, yelling for them to "GO!" or "SWITCH!" between intervals- this allows the workout to happen without any distractions and ensures that each station/Tabata is the same time.

Happy Early Birthday to ME.

1. Have you tried Tabata Training before? Does it intrigue you? 

2. Have you ever received an early birthday gift before? If so, what was it?


Holly @ Pink-Runner.com said...

I never heard of that app, so I am checking it out now! Thanks!!

runningonhungry.com said...

That is awesome! I'm pretty sure my TRX instructor uses something to that effect in our classes because its 45 seconds of work and 20 seconds to prepare (Clearly my reflexes don't move that fast and I'm usually a good 15 seconds behind.)

Holllller for a new iPod! That's awesome! My parents just bought me a Garmin Forerunner 205 for my marathon training and I LOVE IT!

Jane said...

That sounds awesome/horrible.

yay new ipod!

Vanessa @ Gourmet Runner said...

That sounds intense! Great workout!

Cait the Arty Runnerchick said...

first off, let's establish that we need much more early bdays!! score on the new ipod!! and u sure found the perfect way tot run ur next gift into ur own torture device!! haha...love it!
that looks like an insane workout, and way to go! i've heard a lot about Tabatas, and it sounds pretty similar to the whole interval training philosophy which works! if u wanna kick ur butt, u gotta up the intensity, feel like u wanna die...then repeat! haha.
since i'm mostly a runner i apply it to track repeats, but lord knows i need to branch out and do the same thing with core/strength moves...tho i'm a bit scared to try that one u made up! way to go girl! :)

Melissa said...

oh my goodness that sounds insane, yet awesome!!!!!

Alyssa said...

Happy early birthday! I love my ipod touch. I have never tried Tabata - I've done interval training, but that sounds HARD! I might need to check that app out!

Amy said...

Okay, that workout sounds insane. Insane but awesome. I think I would probably need medical assistance at some point. However I do like interval training, especially with running. A good hard sprint session always irons out any creases and leaves me feeling fatigued but good.

Hayley @ Oat Couture said...

Happy early birthdaaaaay! :) If it makes you feel any better I STILL have my old old nano! :/ That workout sounds awesome btw! I so want to train with you!!! I have a feeling I wouldn't be able to move for a few days afterwards though! :)

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