The science of fitness has grown enormously over the past two decades. We’ve learned how different fitness activities produce different results, how some forms of exercise are more efficient than others, and how the benefits of activity vary with age.
But some of the most important advancements in our understanding of fitness came from a Japanese researcher name Dr. Tabata. While studying the athlete routines of Olympic speed skaters, Dr. Tabata was among the first to recognize the special benefits of high intensity training.
What’s a Tabata Workout?
When comparing athletes who performed four minutes of high intensity exercise, and athletes who had performed an hour of moderate exercise, Dr. Tabata was surprised to discover short and intense exercise produced better results.
It wasn’t long before an exercise methodology began to develop around this discovery – the Tabata workout. The idea is simple. You’re supposed to perform high intensity exercise for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, and then begin your next repetition. The exercise can be almost anything, and the benefits of Tabata can be spectacular.
Tabata Health Benefits
Though it didn’t have a name when Dr. Tabata discovered it, the Tabata workout method is now considered a form of high intensity interval training. And HIIT has been intensively studied in the time since Dr. Tabata initially made his discovery.
HIIT and Tabata benefits include rapidly improve glucose metabolism for people with diabetes, slow down the progression of Parkinson’s, and even offer improved memory. High intensity exercises are more effective at accelerating metabolism, much makes them burn fat faster, and makes finding the best Tabata exercises for weight loss quite easy.
Tabata Training for Seniors
Unfortunately, many forms of Tabata are unapproachable for seniors because high intensity interval training often involves high-impact exercises which are stressful to joints. Fortunately, there are still a number of Tabata exercises for seniors which can provide all the same Tabata workout benefits outlined above.
It might be surprising, but due to their high intensity, pushups are actually among the best Tabata workouts. Though most people know what a pushup looks like, it’s important to know about proper form to minimize the chance of injury.
Begin in the plank position with your hands positioned apart from each other, slightly wider than shoulder width. To help moderate intensity, seniors may move their knees to the floor, ideally on a padded surface.
Whether balanced on knees or toes, continue to use your abdominal muscles to keep straight a neutral body posture. Elbows should remain close to the body. From the starting position, gradually lower your chest until it’s nearly touching the floor, then return to the top by pushing upward.
Because the Russian Twist is performed on the floor, padding may be necessary. But the padding should remain relatively thin, similar to a yoga mat, since balance is a large part of this exercise. Sitting with feet together and knees bent, lean your torso backwards to balance. Lean so that, relative to the floor, your back is at a 45-degree angle.
With hands clasped together, and using abdominal muscles to maintain balance, move your clasped hands to your right side, and then to your left side. This involves a slight twisting motion in the upper body, but avoid placing pressure on the lower back.
Plank with a Row
This starting position is similar to a pushup, except each arm should be fully extended. From here, raise your left hand off the floor, and bring it to your left side. Do this while keeping your ribs and elbow in alignment, then repeat for the other side. As long as you don’t allow your hips to drop from the starting position, you can increase speed of this exercise as much as necessary to find the right intensity.
Making Your Own
Best of all, you can make your own Tabata exercises. The Tabata method allows you to do basically anything that will get your heart rate up, provided you can continue to do it for about 20 seconds. Though you should always understand the proper form of an athletic motion before undertaking it, to reduce the risk of injury.
For seniors and elderly adults who already have a moderate level of fitness, and who have been guided to exert themselves with minimal chance of injury, Tabata can be a great addition to an active lifestyle. But before you undertake high intensity interval workouts like Tabata, you should always take a couple of minutes to warmup. Additionally, it’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor before leaping into a new exercise regimen.