How “Being In Shape” Doesn’t Equate to Body Consciousness

As someone who considers myself in relatively good shape, I was shocked by how much Tabata Intervals kicked my ass. I read about them at The Fitnessista’s blog and decided to try them out because who doesn’t love the idea of getting a super effective workout in four minutes?

I figured it would be hard – I’ve done longer interval speed workouts on the track and in spin classes, and at the end of a sprint, the thought of death or at least throwing up always flits through your mind once. But that’s how you know it’s working, right?

So per that blog post and by reading through the comments, I attempted.

The workout methodology was pioneered by Dr. Izumi Tabata and a team of researchers from the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo, Japan during a 1996 study. The process is simple:

  • 3 – 5 minute warm up
  • 20 seconds maximum intensity exercise
  • 10 seconds rest
  • Do that eight times and then do a cool down.

The great part about Tabata intervals is they can be done anywhere with a variety of exercises – sprints, the elliptical, biking, squats, jump ropes, rowing, chin ups, push ups, etc. And again, the work out is extremely effective for such a short amount of time.

No doubt I was expecting it to be hard. But I wasn’t expecting to get through three intervals and be gasping for breath and then struggle through two more before giving up. I just ran a marathon for goodness sake. (Although, let’s be real – the marathon was in October and I’ve been running…well, let’s just say not a lot.) Alas, steady state cardio doesn’t prepare your lungs (or your mind, frankly) for this type of work.

I definitely felt like this afterward...

When I got back to my computer, I read around the web and realized that perhaps I didn’t know what my maximum heart rate was and that it was possible I was going a little too balls to the wall and burning out. Honestly, I just went as hard as I could for 20 seconds  and didn’t even factor my heart rate into the equation. I’m lucky I didn’t fall off the elliptical!

This is a great example of how you can be considered “athletic” and “healthy” and still be completely out of touch with your own body. I’m loathe to admit on here that I don’t know what my resting heart rate, target heart rate, or maximum heart rate are. Way to go, Liz!

The Tabata Protocol website is a great tool to get started with this workout without overdoing it like I did. The site also recommends easing into the workout and not necessarily trying to do all eight intervals the first time you try it, which I found reassuring. Perhaps pushing too hard and doing too many intervals were the reason I felt like death afterward. There’s hope for me yet.

Priority number one for tomorrow is to take my resting heart rate before I get out of bed! Gotta start somewhere!



3 thoughts on “How “Being In Shape” Doesn’t Equate to Body Consciousness

  1. What is the limit or target heart rate when doing tabata sprints? I hit 190 when I do my resistance intervals (I do 20 on, 40 off x 8).

    • The Tabata Protocol website recommends that you do two intervals and record your maximum heart rate and recovery heart rate and keep doing two until your recovery heart rate goes down and then add another interval, keep going until recovery heart rate goes down, add another, etc.

      Your “maximum” heart rate is usually counted as 220 – your age although when you’re first doing intervals, it might be higher but shouldn’t be TOO much higher.

  2. Have you ever tried a body rock workout? because the way you describe how you felt is definitely how dave and i felt after we tried it. we couldn’t finish the sets and just laid on the floor gasping for air. i kind of loved it.

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