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March Fitness Tips

Michelle Walker, base fitness specialist

Michelle Walker, the base fitness specialist with the 169th Force Support Squadron at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, South Carolina Air National Guard, August 28, 2019. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Caycee Watson)

MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. --

There are countless workout styles you've probably heard about over the years, and all of them are meant to help you reach your fitness goals. 

You may want to increase strength, lose weight, improve flexibility or build muscle. Whatever yours goals are, most exercise programs can help you reach them, as long as you stick to the plan.

If you're looking for a new program to add to your routine, you may want to give Tabata try. Tabata training is a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout, featuring exercises that last four minutes.

The History of Tabata

Tabata training was discovered by Japanese scientist Dr. Izumi Tabata and a team of researchers from the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo.

Tabata and his team conducted research on two groups of athletes. The first group trained at a moderate intensity level while the second group trained at a high-intensity level. The moderate intensity group worked out five days a week for a total of six weeks; each workout lasted one hour. The high-intensity group worked out four days a week for six weeks; each workout lasted four minutes and 20 seconds (with 10 seconds of rest in between each set).

The results; Group 1 had increased their aerobic system (cardiovascular), but showed little or no results for their anaerobic system (muscle). Group 2 showed much more increase in their aerobic system than Group 1, and increased their anaerobic system by 28 percent.

In conclusion, high-intensity interval training has more impact on both the aerobic and anaerobic systems.

The Tabata Program

Each exercise in a given Tabata workout lasts only four minutes, but it's likely to be one of the longest four minutes you've ever endured. The structure of the program is as follows:

  • Work out hard for 20 seconds
  • Rest for 10 seconds
  • Complete 8 rounds

You push yourself as hard as you can for 20 seconds and rest for 10 seconds. This is one set. You'll complete eight sets of each exercise. 

You can do pretty much any exercise you wish. You can do squats, push-ups, burpees or any other exercise that works your large muscle groups. Kettlebell exercises work great, too.

An example of a Tabata workout looks like this:

  1. Push-ups (4 minutes) 
  2. Bodyweight Squats (4 minutes)
  3. Burpees (4 minutes)
  4. Mountain Climbers (4 minutes)

Start with push-ups. Perform them for 20 seconds at a high-intensity. Rest for 10 seconds, and then go back to doing push-ups for 20 seconds. Once you complete eight sets of push-ups, rest for one minute.

Next, move on to squats and repeat the sequence of 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off. Once you finish eight sets of squats, rest for one minute, and then do burpees. After burpees, finish the workout with mountain climbers.

Tabata is great to get a quick workout in if you're short on time, you need to switch up your routine, or you may want to improve endurance and speed. Incorporate this type of workout into your fitness routine and produce results.

The All-Out Workout

The formula for a Tabata workout is simple: 20 seconds of all-out effort, followed by 10 seconds of rest. Again, just because it sounds simple and short, don't make the mistake of thinking that it's easier. These efforts will require max effort.

The intent of this routine is to pack as many repetitions as possible into 6 to 8 sets of 20-second work periods. As a result, when the sixth effort rolls around, your muscles will be filled with lactic acid, making a simple exercise like lunges more difficult that you could've imagined.

This difficulty is by design. In Tabata workouts, you never have a full recovery between sets. Your heart rate should be at or near the max and you should be out of breath by the end of a four-minute session.

Set to Sweat

It's best to think of a Tabata protocol as a guideline for creating a high-intensity interval workout. There's no one specific workout or plan that's best. You can use almost any exercise as long as you adhere to the 20/10 work to rest ratio. This will allow you to keep your workouts fresh and interesting, as you can always change your exercises in order to try something new.

All you need to get started is a stopwatch or timer and a lot of willpower. If you're new to high-intensity training, one bout of Tabata intervals should be plenty. But because these efforts are so hard, make sure to complete a dynamic warm-up before you begin.

All the Right Moves

Build your own Tabata workout by selecting one or two exercises per circuit. You can complete six rounds using only one exercise or you can alternate between two exercises if you choose. There's no need for any equipment other than your timer. Using only your bodyweight for most of the exercises will get the job done, especially if you're a beginner. When you're ready to add weight to the workout, you'll have more than a few options.

What is Proper Hydration?

You've seen it before, the overzealous athlete chugging a gallon of water race morning. As summer and warmer temperatures approach, it's tempting to do this before, during and after events.

Overhydration can be just as dangerous as dehydration. Taking in too much fluid can lead to hyponatremia, which is when blood sodium levels become diluted. As a result, your body's water levels rise and cells begin to swell.

Dehydration is unsafe as well. This occurs when you lose more fluids than you take in and vigorous exercise, especially in hot or humid weather, expedites this fluid loss through sweat.

Prevent dehydration and overhydration by learning to take in just the right amount for your body. Here are some tips on how to hydrate properly.

Recognize Dehydration

This condition can be mild to moderate or severe.

  • Mild to moderate symptoms include a dry mouth, tiredness, thirst, decreased urine output, dry skin, headache, constipation and dizziness.
  • Severe dehydration symptoms include little to no urination, extreme thirst, sunken eyes, shriveled/dry skin, low blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, rapid breathing, fever and delirium.

Fill Up On Electrolytes

Electrolytes maintain water balance, help your muscles contract and relax, and assist in nerve impulse transmissions. Keep your body in event-mode by supplementing with electrolytes during and after summer endurance events. Try tomato juice, coconut water, bananas and spinach.

Track Urine Color

If you're hydrated, your urine should be a pale yellow color like lemonade—not clear and not apple juice colored. This is the simplest assessment to use for a quick hydration update.

Calculate Sweat Rate

Sweat rate is an individual measurement, which is why there's not one all-encompassing recommendation for fluid intake.

Use the following hydration rates to make an approximation of how much hydration you need.

  • The average sweat rate per hour is 32 to 48 ounces
  • The average sodium losses per hour ranges from 500 to 1,500 milligrams.

Always refill immediately after an event. If it's longer than one hour, refill with both water and electrolytes during the event.

Hydrate Before the Event

  • Amount: 10 to 20 ounces the morning of your training or event.
  • Type: water
  • Electrolytes: sodium obtained through normal diet should suffice

Hydrate During the Event

  • Amount: 12 to 24 ounces per hour
  • Type: water
  • Electrolytes: 400 to 800 milligrams of sodium per hour

Hydrate After the Event

  • Amount: 16 to 20 ounces per pound lost
  • Type: water
  • Electrolytes: no supplements necessary, replace through food

Note: All of these recommendations are highly dependent on sweat rate and climate—drink the max if you sweat a lot or it's a hot day. Dial back otherwise.

Stay safe by hydrating properly during the summer months. Weigh yourself before and after events at the beginning of the season to determine your typical hydration losses. Don't forget to observe urine color during an event and be careful to not under-or-over hydrate.