The four-minute work­out

Tabata, the new in­stant-fit­ness craze, prom­ises quick re­sults. But is it worth the pain, asks Jake Wal­lis Si­mons

The Sunday Telegraph - Sunday - - Front Page -

ou’ve got to psy­che your­self up,” says Richard Scrivener, 31, an im­plau­si­bly mus­cu­lar health, fit­ness and nu­tri­tion in­struc­tor at a gym in Is­ling­ton, north Lon­don. “You’ve got to give it all you’ve got, push your­self, ham­mer it. When I fire up the mu­sic and we’re pumped up, and I’m scream­ing at you, the roof will lift off. There’ll be so much en­ergy. You’ll see, it will be great.” Oh, reader. The things I do for you. Wel­come to the weird world of “Tabata” high-in­ten­sity in­ter­val train­ing. From one point of view, the ap­peal is ob­vi­ous: four min­utes of ex­er­cise four times a week, and – al­legedly – you’ll be as fit as a fid­dle. Ac­cord­ing to the Ja­panese founder, Pro­fes­sor Izumi Tabata (known to his fol­low­ers as Prof T), one of his four­minute ses­sions is equal to an hour of jog­ging, an hour of mod­er­ate cycling, two hours of walk­ing, an hour of Zumba or two hours of yoga. What’s not to like? Quite a lot, ac­tu­ally. The idea is to in­crease your heart rate to its max­i­mum by “go­ing com­pletely men­tal” for 240 sec­onds. This is sup­posed to give you both aer­o­bic and anaer­o­bic ben­e­fits (both car­dio and mus­cle work­out). But we’re talk­ing about four min­utes of pain. High-in­ten­sity train­ing is not a new con­cept. It was used to a limited ex­tent by the renowned ath­let­ics coach Arthur Ly­di­ard in the Six­ties, and Peter Coe used the The Gibala Method De­vel­oped by a Cana­dian pro­fes­sor in 2009, this pro­gramme in­volves eight to 12 cy­cles of one-minute bursts of ex­er­cise. pre­ci­sion­nu­tri­tion.com The Fartlek method This Swedish sys­tem is a mix­ture of con­tin­u­ous and high-in­ten­sity train­ing. Ses­sions are 45 min­utes long. run­ner­sworld.co.uk The Tim­mons regime Four sets of gen­tle ex­er­cise are fol­lowed by 20-sec­ond high-in­ten­sity bursts. De­vel­oped by the Bri­tish aca­demic Prof Peter Tim­mons. lboro.ac.uk week, Gal­lagher be­lieves that would be “crazy”. “You’ll end up in­jur­ing your­self, and I doubt it would bring any ben­e­fits,” he says. Af­ter­wards I can barely walk. But Scrivener as­sures me I have raised my meta­bolic rate to such an ex­tent that the calo­rieburn­ing ef­fects will last for far longer than af­ter a reg­u­lar ex­er­cise ses­sion. The fol­low­ing day, I’m aching badly. The next day it’s even more painful, which I’m told is due to some­thing called De­layed Onset Mus­cle Sore­ness (DOMS). Ev­ery mus­cle in my body is stiff, even those in my neck. I also feel weirdly en­er­gised. But was it worth it? Was it hell. I can see how some peo­ple can get ad­dicted to Tabata, but once in a life­time was enough for me. Tabata classes are avail­able at Fit­ness First in Septem­ber, and na­tion­wide there­after. Visit fit­ness­first.co.uk/tabata

No pain, no gain: the warmup, left; the pain, cen­tre; the ex­haus­tion, right

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