Weight Lifting, Weight Training, Bench Press & Bodybuilding
October 24, 2014

Morphing Into a Fat-Burning Furnace
By Alex Maroko

Morphing Into a Fat-Burning Furnace

It's possible a lot of you may have already heard or read about Japanese researcher Dr. Izumi Tabata and his breakthrough studies, but I'm certain some of you haven't. So, let me give you the lowdown. First, here is an abstract of one the studies Tabata did a few years ago:

Effects of moderate-intensity endurance and high-intensity intermittent training on anaerobic capacity and VO2max.

Tabata I, Nishimura K, Kouzaki M, Hirai Y, Ogita F, Miyachi M, Yamamoto K. Department of Physiology and Biomechanics, National Institute of Fitness and Sports, Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan.

This study consists of two training experiments using a mechanically braked cycle ergometer. First, the effect of 6 wk of moderate-intensity endurance training (intensity: 70% of maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max), 60 min.d-1, 5 d.wk-1) on the anaerobic capacity (the maximal accumulated oxygen deficit) and VO2max was evaluated. After the training, the anaerobic capacity did not increase significantly (P > 0.10), while VO2max increased from 53 +/- 5 ml.kg-1 min-1 to 58 +/- 3 ml.kg-1.min-1 (P < 0.01) (mean +/- SD).

Second, to quantify the effect of high-intensity intermittent training on energy release, seven subjects performed an intermittent training exercise 5 d.wk-1 for 6 wk. The exhaustive intermittent training consisted of seven to eight sets of 20-s exercise at an intensity of about 170% of VO2max with a 10-s rest between each bout. After the training period, VO2max increased by 7 ml.kg-1.min-1, while the anaerobic capacity increased by 28%. In conclusion, this study showed that moderate-intensity aerobic training that improves the maximal aerobic power does not change anaerobic capacity and that adequate high-intensity intermittent training may improve both anaerobic and aerobic energy supplying systems significantly, probably through imposing intensive stimuli on both systems.

Morphing Into a Fat-Burning Furnace

If you are so impatient that you didn't read that, shame on you. Just kidding. All it will tell you is that subjects did really intense work for 4 minutes and substantially improved their aerobic and anaerobic capacity (your two energy systems). The workouts went like this:

  • 20 seconds on

  • 10 seconds rest

  • 20 seconds on

  • 10 seconds rest

This was repeated for a total of 4 minutes, so you had 8-20 second periods of work, with 10 seconds of rest in between each one. Sounds easy, right? Not! These workouts may be short in duration, but will rock your world.

If you have no interest in increasing the capacity of your energy systems and really just want to look good at the beach, don't fret, this is the end-all, be-all you've been waiting for. Why? Workouts that stimulate your anaerobic pathway cause a post-workout effect called," Exercise Post-Oxygen Consumption", or EPOC.

All that means is that after doing a workout that required you to go really hard for short periods, followed by rest and then work again, your body's metabolism will sky rocket for 24-48 hours following the exercise session.

This would be why football or basketball players (really any speed/power athlete) have just as low body fat levels as long-distance runners, when they might train for an hour or two a day, and the runners are training 4-6 hours a day. Plus, since they don't have to spend all day exercising, their cortisol levels (stress hormone) aren't constantly elevated and they are actually allowed to keep their muscles!

A lot of people might read this and think, "But, don't I have to get in my 30 minutes of aerobic training everyday, like everybody else?" To which I reply, B.S. That's mythical crap based on some outdated studies done 45 years ago.

Those guidelines are set because having sufficient aerobic capacity is good for a lot of things. Better exchange at your capillaries (and making more capillaries), increased peripheral blood flow, decreased resting HR, bigger mitochondria, increased anaerobic threshold, the list can go on for a while.

Morphing Into a Fat-Burning Furnace But why would you spend 30 minutes a day, on the brink of dying from pure boredom of another day stuck on the elliptical, and burn less calories, when you could get all the aerobic benefits, plus anaerobic benefits, plus burning up to 9x more calories in four minutes? The decision is an easy one.

What are the best ways to do a Tabata workout? I recommend using compound movements (big surprise there), alternating between movements taxing your upper body and your lower body. Here's an example:

  • Squat 20 seconds

  • Rest 10 seconds

  • Military Press 20 seconds

  • Rest 10 seconds

  • Speed Jumping Jacks 20 seconds

  • Rest 10 seconds

  • Pushups 20 seconds

  • Rest 10 seconds

  • Squat 20 seconds

  • Rest 10 seconds

  • Military Press 20 seconds

  • Rest 10 seconds

  • Speed Jumping Jacks 20 seconds

  • Rest 10 seconds

  • Pushups 20 seconds

  • Rest 10 seconds

  • Do a google search, find out where I live and come after me with a chain-saw. ;)

And that would be it for your conditioning, cardio, energy system work, gpp, work capacity training, etc, whatever. That's it.

And, no, this doesn't mean don't do anything else. You should still be warming up. You should still be lifting weights. You should still be taking care of your tissue quality, with stretching and other modalities. But then, that's it!

A couple things should be pointed out here:

  • This is not for beginners. Put it this way. In most exercise studies, experiments are done on untrained, out of shape participants. Tabata's study was done on high-level athletes. And they still saw massive improvements. These workouts are that intense. If you're not up to it just yet, start off with 10 seconds of work and 20 seconds of rest. After a week, go to 15 seconds of work and 15 seconds of rest. Then, try 20 and 10.


  • The exercises you can choose will depend on your training experience and your current condition. You can absolutely make the movements weighted, by using a barbell for the squats instead of just your body weight if you're up to it, for example. Only you know your body and you know what you can and can't handle.


  • Do not get on Google, find my address and come after me with a chain-saw when you're done. Honestly, I think a machete would sound a lot cooler when you tell your friends and family about the time you went after the Critical Bench guy because of some crazy workout he had you do that nearly made you collapse.


Alex Maroko is a currently a Kinesiology major at Michigan State University, and a former Division II college basketball players. Besides training himself and his clients, Alex likes to read, discuss and think about anything pertaining to training. At this point, it is borderline obsessive.

You can find out more about him at www.alexmaroko.blogspot.com or his first product, geared towards basketball players, at www.effectiveballhandling.com.

 

 

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