Olson, M. (2013). Tabata interval exercise: energy expenditure and post-exercise responses. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 45(5), Supplement abstract number 2143.

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"Tabata training, named for its developer Dr. Izumi Tabata who studied this form of conditioning at the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo, involves a movement or modality such as squat-jumps, stair-running, or cycling done for 20 seconds at maximum effort with 10 seconds rest for eight total cycles. Tabata researchers found that this protocol produced significant improvements in VO2max following a period of training. However, no published data are available regarding the energy cost of the Tabata method."

This study measured the energy cost of a Tabata protocol and determined the energy expenditure following a Tabata bout. Ss (M = 3; F = 12) who were physically active or involved in university athletics participated in the study. The Tabata protocol was as follows: Pre-exercise oxygen uptake (VO2) was measured for 30 minutes while Ss rested in a supine position on an athletic training table. Ss then completed a Tabata bout executing eight cycles of body-weight squat-jumps with maximum effort while being measured continuously for VO2. Following exercise, Ssí VO2 was further recorded as per the pre-exercise conditions.

Mean pre-exercise VO2 was 3.7 ml/kg/minute. For the Tabata bout, VO2 was ~38.4 ml/kg/minute with an average peak VO2 of 48.2 ml/kg/minute during various 20-second maximum-efforts. Peak respiratory exchange ratio recovery values were 1.54. At 10, 20, and 30 minutes post-exercise, the mean VO2 was 12.5, 6.4, and 4.1 ml/kg/minute, respectively. All the above values were significantly higher than pre-exercise resting measures. Using the 5 kcal/minute equivalent for every liter of oxygen consumed, kcal cost for the Tabata protocol was 13.4 kcal/min (standardized to 70 kg weight). Additionally, the kcal expenditure incurred 30 minutes post-exercise was double that for the 30 minute pre-exercise period (80.5 kcals versus 39 kcals, respectively).

Implication. A bout of Tabata exercise using body-weight squat-jumps produced a marked VO2 equivalent to 11.0 METs and a VO2 that did not fall to pre-exercise levels 30 minutes post-exercise. The intensity of Tabata training produces sufficient overload to produce adaptation to exercise stress.

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