First off, I must reveal that I am not a scientist. I am an artist at heart so I will do my best to spell this all out logically. Please comment and share thoughts.
I first took notice of the Tabata Protocol because it seemed like an interesting way to get in a short interval workout that would maximize post workout fat burn and help my clients achieve their goals of body compositional changes.
Lately, however, I’ve noticed a lot of modifications of the original research and all those changes made me sit up and take notice. In fact, enough notice to go back and look at the original paper. What I found was nothing short of astounding, at least to my mind.
Let me say that the premise of Tabata is promising. The study showed that subjects who trained using the 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest for 4 minutes total of work and rest, burned more fat for energy over 24 hours than another group who trained at 70% of Max VO2 for an hour. Both groups worked out 5 days a week for 6 weeks. Pretty powerful stuff if you ask me.
70% VO2max is approximately 80 % max heart rate. Now here’s where it gets pretty interesting. The Tabata group trained at an astounding 170% VO2max! I’ll admit that I too missed that vital nugget of information and that changes things, doesn’t it?
And that’s the trouble with the protocol. Very few folks and certainly none of my clients are capable of work at that level. Vo2Max is controlled to a certain degree by heart rate. The higher your heart rate the higher the VO2max. But you’re heart rate can only go so high. Once you can’t raise it higher you need to be able to control another part of the VO2max equation. But you can’t get to a level of intensity that is anywhere close to almost 2 times your %VO2max unless you are already ultra fit. The reason being that you can’t raise your Arterial-Venous Oxygen Differential to the needed large degree unless you are already freakishly fit. That differential is the key to raising your VO2max. So Tabata is excellent for the supreme athlete to take for cardio fitness to the next level. And it’s not a bad workout for the average “Joe” or “Jane” but certainly can’t deliver on the promise of the research since the numbers are hardly attainable. So a very interesting study is really a non starter for 99% of the population.
The Viking Warrior Conditioning Protocol is something to consider replacing the alchemy that Tabata can’t deliver upon, in most cases. First off, it is something you can build upon as you get more fit. You start with a snatch test that determines your 100% VO2max and then you use the number to do the 15/15 protocol. After you graduate from that you do a new test and then attack the 36/36 workout. Then you have a few choices. You could either re-test on the original test or test for another new protocol.
I’m not going to go into details about the specifics of the Viking Warrior as I don’t want to plagiarize and also as I won’t do the author, Kenneth Jay, Master RKC justice.
Here’s what I can tell you. You will get ripped and your heart health will improve dramatically. The first time I completely a cycle of it my resting heart rate went down over 20%. You will lose fat but it won’t be at the expense of power. In fact, you should get much stronger too.
If you aren’t sure about your kettlebell snatch find an RKC instructor in your area to help you. You really shouldn’t be doing snatch work until you are quite proficient with the kettlebell and have practiced for some time. That said, you don’t need to be a super human to do the VWC. The Tabata workout doesn’t deliver on its promised research unless you are already a beast. The VWC will turn you into that animal!
Would love to hear your thoughts on this.