View Full Version : Tabata training

November 25th, 2006, 02:44 PM
Anyone ever tried applying this to swimming?

The basic idea is simple. Warmup for five minutes, then eight cycles of 20 seconds all out followed by 10 seconds rest, then five minutes cool down. The entire workout takes 14 minutes.

The method is named for the Japanese physiologist who first proposed it. I think it was first used by the Japanese speed skating team.

I have a hard time believing a 14 minute workout is going to do much for a swimmer, but maybe it's just because it's so far removed from what we're used to. I could see how the main 8X 20 seconds hard, 10 easy would be great for sprinters to do as part of a workout a couple times a week, but having that as the workout in its entirety?

What does everyone else think? Anyone tried it for swimming or any other activities?

November 25th, 2006, 03:05 PM
Geez, this doesn't seem like much of a workout. Maybe this is why the Japanese swimmers, on average, haven't done so well at the Olympics? But maybe for people who swim and have to travel a lot, it would be better than nothing. Or for those people with very short lunch hours!!!:dunno:


November 25th, 2006, 03:21 PM
Let me be clear that I haven't actually heard of swimmers using it. However, speed skating seems pretty similar to swimming. Speed skating events range from 500 meters to 10,000 meters and these distances takes about 35 seconds and 13 minutes, respectively for elite skaters. So, a pretty similar range to the pool events in swimming.

November 25th, 2006, 03:38 PM
The most obvious problem I see is having trouble stopping at the right time. For example, 20 sec would get me about to the far flags in a 25 yard pool in a set like this. So unless you time for a 25 is 20 sec, the timing would be off. Also, I'm not quite sure what energy system it would train. It's certainly not an aerobic endurance set, but there's not enough rest to make it a true sprint set. Maybe it's about the same as the broken 200's we sometimes swim to prepare for meets?

November 25th, 2006, 03:57 PM
There's one obvious thing different if I'm interpreting this right.

The skaters would spend the first few seconds of each 20 second repeat accellerating up to racing speed from a dead stop. I am guessing that at the end of 20 seconds they just coast and circle back to a designated starting position.

For swimmers, the 20 second repeat begins with a push off the wall that is a streamline during the fastest possible speed they will enjoy for the repeat, then just trying to maintain that pace for the rest of the time.

Allen Stark
November 25th, 2006, 05:20 PM
I read of and tried a swim set that was 20X12.5 yd. on the 30. the idea was to use the CP and aerobic metabolisms only. Sprint enough to burn up CP in your muscles but not so much as to generate lactic acid,then rest long enough to regenerate CP and go again. I didn't like it because I could not get into a rhythm in 12.5 yd. but some people might. This seems something like what you are talking about,but it is just one set in a work out,not the whole thing.

November 25th, 2006, 06:00 PM
The most obvious problem I see is having trouble stopping at the right time.

I agree. Probably it would work best with a coach blowing a whistle and you stop dead wherever you happen to be, then start from a dead stop at the start of the next repeat. Optionally, being tethered might work well. I think the key is to really blast those 20 second sprints, so you probably wouldn't want push-offs and turns interfering if possible.

November 25th, 2006, 08:11 PM
Also, I'm not quite sure what energy system it would train. It's certainly not an aerobic endurance set, but there's not enough rest to make it a true sprint set. I'd say that it relies heavily on anaerobic power. The distance is so short that performance is limited more by the *rate* of anaerobic metabolism (size of the pipe), than by its *capacity* (size of the tank).

November 25th, 2006, 11:39 PM
I've done these sets for crossfit on exercises like squats, pullups, pushups. They max you out VERY quickly and it's usually difficult to complete the tabata sets as described.

The rationale behind it is that the short high intensity periods combined with the short recovery times put lots of stress on both the aerobic and anaerobic systems, maximizing the benefit to both. At the start of the tabata set you're working aerobically, and the short intervals keep it aerobic. However the short recovery times eventually drive you into oxygen debt and make the end of the sets mostly anaerobic. The researcher Mr. Tabata compared various ratios and overall lengths of work:rest and found that the 20 sec:10 sec repeat gave the maximum benefit to both systems. Or so it was explained to me...

A typical crossfit set would just say "tabata pullups, record lowest number performed" meaning do as many as you can in 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds rest, repeat 8x. You score is your weakest set.

Whenever I've seen tabatas they've been in the context of functional strength exercises and not activities like running, swimming, etc.

November 26th, 2006, 12:47 AM
I have heard Dr. Dean Edell talking about this and he seemed to think that the evidence supporting it was legitimate enough. He did caution that it was not for everybody as the stress it places on the body could trigger MI or any number of cardiac issues in a typically sedentary person. In other words, you should be "in shape" before you use this program to get "in shape".

I think the closest thing in swimming might be based upon 25 yard swims.