It’s not uncommon for cyclists to get caught in the trap of believing that more miles will automatically equate to greater fitness.
Yes, knocking out big miles will increase your endurance and aerobic fitness. However, if it’s an increase in speed and power you’re after, then you probably want to be including some short, super high intensity interval training (HITT) into routine.
Tabata training was pioneered by Professor Izumi Tabata – who clearly wanted his own name to be associated with absolute and all-consuming exhaustion to athletes all over the world.
His research showed him that, if completed correctly, short, sharp bursts of extreme intensive exercise could increase aerobic (top end speed) capacity by up to 28%.
The session he devised is very simple: repeat eight twenty second intervals at your absolute maximum capacity, separated by ten seconds of rest.
His athletes performed four Tabita sessions a week, with one ‘steady state’ session to complement the four-minute-hell-bursts.
The only real rule with this training is that the twenty second bursts must be absolutely maximal -hold nothing back. Here are a few ways you could perk up your training with Tabata:
On the Bike
Since Professor T’s athletes completed their intervals on the bike, it seems sensible to start here.
Set yourself up on a stationary bike in the gym, or on a turbo trainer at home. Spin gently for 5-10 minutes, then complete eight intervals of 20 seconds at maximum output, followed by 10 seconds of total rest. Cool down with an easy 5 minute spin.
On the Run
Running is convenient, and requires very little prep or equipment – just a pair of trainers and motivation.
Jog to your local park, then choose two milestones that are around a twenty second sprint apart. Run between them, eight times, stopping for 10 seconds between each sprint. Walk or jog home.
In the Home
If you’re stuck inside the house, and want to make sure you get your fitness fix, you can squeeze a Tabata session in with little to no equipment.
You can keep it interesting by varying your intervals – for example:
20 seconds: jump rope: skip with both legs together, jumping as high as you can
20 seconds: high skips: demonstrated here
20 seconds: burpees demonstrated here
20 seconds: running high knees: Run on the spot, air to get your knees as high as possible
Skipping is one of the best ways to get your heart racing at home – jumping rope with both feet together provides a great psychometric exercise which provides explosive force – just make sure you’ve got enough space around you!
High skips, burpees and high knees all require explosive movements which will really get your muscles working and your heart pumping.
Check out this post on home exercise tools if you’re looking for easy ways to fit training in around your life.