So, Tabata intervals, eh?

Discussion in 'Power Training' started by grahamspringett, Jul 3, 2008.

  1. grahamspringett

    grahamspringett New Member

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    I did a quick search here but couldn't find a thread, so forgive me if this has been done to death.

    I discovered Tabata intervals while googling and it would seem they are a Proceed to Go, Collect $200 type of work-out.

    If you don't know, some Japanese researcher, a Prof Tabata, found that if you flog yourself for 20 seconds, spin easy for 10, then go again, for a total 10 repeats, you improve aerobic, anaerobic and VO2 max power and reduce national debt levels with a minimum of time invested.

    Now I'm not for a moment suggesting that if I do this I'll be harassing Cadel up Alpe d'Huez, and I know all fans of big CTL numbers will throw arms up in disgust, but I've decided to have a go at these.

    My main motivation is that here in Australia the Tour de France starts at 10pm and goes through til about 1am live. I normally do my turbo after work, which finishes at 10.30pm.

    Last year I just stopped riding so I could watch the Tour, but this year I want to keep going. Tabata intervals seem a good way to get top dollar training for little time investment. Hell, even if I just maintain fitness I'll be happy!

    I've seen figures which say after 6 weeks the test subjects improved aerobic capacity by 14 per cent. That'd get me past the magic 300W barrier and set me at 4.69W/kg, a tidy figure.

    Has anybody tried these intervals and subsequently gained Olympic selection? I'm cynical of the improvement suggested, but given my 3-week trek round France in my garage I figured I've got little to lose.

    What I want to know is how many sets I might do and at what percentage of FTP. The work session itself is a mere 5 minutes (20sec on, 10sec off, repeat 10 times and collapse). I did 2 sets last night (with 5mins easy in beteen sets) for a total of a whopping 40 minutes on the bike. I reckon I could do this for the suggested 5 times a week, but it sounds suspiciously like tapering and a path to burn-out.

    The article I saw suggests 150 per cent of FTP for your 20 seconds of enjoyment. Others I have seen suggest all-out.

    It all sounds too good to be true!

    However, I'll give them a go, but would welcome any observations and suggestions.

    Please don't flame me and tell me I'm mad - I'm giving these things a go to see what happens. What I'm after is feedback, the benefit of people's experience or a link to a site saying that Tabata's test subjects were all injecting EPO, caffeine and testosterone, thus proving the intervals are full of false promise.
     
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  2. bbrauer

    bbrauer New Member

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    It's all hinges on the "test subject". If they plucked some random couch potato for their testing, then that's not that mind-blowing. Previously trained athletes, otoh, that's saying something.

    If you can handle the mental strain of doing something that's really really uncomfortable, then go for it. I've done them, graduating from 15 on/15 off to 20 on/10 off, and they are about the most challenging physical workout you can do.
     
  3. grahamspringett

    grahamspringett New Member

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    They were trained athletes, that's what makes these things sound so promising. I found the work hard, but no harder than other anaerobic work I've done, that is, gruelling. What power did you work at? I did 150% of FTP, which is way into the anaerobic zone. Need I go further into the pain cave?
     
  4. bbrauer

    bbrauer New Member

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    When my eyes are shut because I'm wincing I can't read my power meter. On most all shorter anaerobic work up to 3 minutes I have a towel over the power meter so not to look. For me, it's about perceived exertion and almost meditating by focusing on my breathing and the pain sensation in my leg. Sometimes I peek and notice my power drops, so I try to bump up my pain tolerance. Sometimes you don't realize you can push yourself harder.

    After a few of those 20 second things, all you'll probably manage in 150% of threshold. Just go by feel...all out.

    In terms of that taper effect you described, that's what I find with most HIT regimes. You get fast quick, but you lose it quick too. Five times a week seems excessive. You could do a two day block, but supplement it with other stuff.
     
  5. Sillyoldtwit

    Sillyoldtwit New Member

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    Back in the 70s, we used to train once a week in exactly the way you laid it out above, and we had one of the best running clubs in the country as far as 10 - 20 mile races were concerned.
    These sessions (12 sets) were sheer unadulterated purgatory, but boy did they improve your running. Don't know if the same would work for cylists, but there. Tyson ;)
     
  6. giannip

    giannip New Member

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    I think the once a week approcah is probably a good one. I've been mulling it over with my coach re: doing these.

    I've tried to imagine doing them 4 days a week on an indoor trainer in winter....while i think it's possible, I don;t know how good it is menatally and there must come a time when you're just sick of doing them.

    Also if you add them in as a once a week workout at least you're not left wondering if you're taking a big gamble
     
  7. dome

    dome New Member

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    My all out running effort would be no more than a walk long before I got to 12 sets. I probably would struggle to do 12 sets spread over a week, but might give 4 sessions a week of 3 sets each a try.
     
  8. YMCA

    YMCA New Member

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    all-out is required
    doing them based on any power output is fruitless
    the last few will barely have numbers worthy of my 12 year old
    PE is the only way
    good luck making the whole 4'
    cracking is normal
     
  9. cooljazz

    cooljazz New Member

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    Interesting, i've been seeing a lot of this mentioned lately. I'd be interested in hearing how it works out. I'd be skeptical of doing it all the time. I'd think once a week would be good enough, supplemented with other training.
    -richard
     
  10. giannip

    giannip New Member

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    will report back......apparently they're on the menu for next week :eek:
     
  11. strader

    strader New Member

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    Here's some links to the actual studies:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9139179?dopt=Abstract

    http://www.acsm-msse.org/pt/re/msse/abstract.00005768-199610000-00018.htm;jsessionid=JMTTZgtr1Rj9hTXyMnVlLxQ9fxwDlGn4lyPq7cFHpdmWHppjPwLy!1251598232!181195628!8091!-1
    I recently tried out Tabata intervals to prep for CX this season. I tried to do them as close to the actual study as possible, i.e. 8 sets of 20 sec each with 10 seconds of rest. It was hard to fit in 5 days a week so typically I ended up doing 3 or 4 days per week. Here's how I progressed:

    Week 1: Tried the first set at 500 watts work interval on my computrainer. Barely finished. Next session at 500 watts was pretty easy (beginner gains), and I did the last two that week at 510.

    Week 2: Two more sessions on the trainer at 510 watts, and one outdoors on the cross bike (no power data).

    Week 4: 3 sets at 520 watts. Set a 20 min PB on my local hill climb this week (308 watts). Did one set at the end of the week at 530.

    Week 5: Banged out two sets at 530 on the trainer and one outdoors on the cross bike. Set another 20 min PB of 313 watts (315 NP) at my local hill climb.

    Week 6: Did two sets at 540 watts early in the week, and felt like I could do 550. Rest of the week was mostly skills and taper for the first race A of the season which went pretty well.

    Week 7: Tried 540 watts on Tuesday and failed to complete the last interval. Took a day of rest and tried again, but only completed 4 of the 8 intervals at 540 watts.

    Week 8: Took a rest week. Dealing with chronic fatigue, dead legs, burnout symptoms even with a positive TSB. This weeks race was one of my worst results of the season.

    Week 9: Did mostly L2/L3 rides and started over on Tabatas at 500 watts. Had best race result of season.

    Week 10: Right back to burnout symptoms only worse than week 8. Oddly, Sundays race seemed to blowout the cobwebs and now I'm back to feeling good again.
     
  12. strader

    strader New Member

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    Computrainer workout:
     
  13. frost

    frost New Member

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    Very interesting report, thanks! How was your training and progress prior to Tabathas? While doing Tabathas, was it all training you did?
     
  14. strader

    strader New Member

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    I have been training seriously for about a year and a half. First ~8 months I progressed rapidly just banging out SST miles and 2x20s. After that I ran into a plateau were I didn't improve at all which lasted for ~6 months.
    I find the Tabata intervals combine well with other workouts. It's only a four minute session so it's easy to go out and do a 2 hour endurance ride after. I find it much less mentally taxing than 6x5s - with those I would freqently quit after the 4th or 5th interval.
     
  15. workingguy

    workingguy Member

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    So I jumped on the bandwagon and tried these. FTP is 220W and 65kg, 166cm. Optimal weight is 60kg. I plateaud last year at 240 FTP, with best 20 minute at 250.

    Target power (170%) should be 374. I managed 325-350, and only 6. Rest and finished with 30 minutes SST. Is it the poor anaerobic capacity or VO2Max that I can't maintain these? (4x5s I barely get 108%FTP) Next time will try for 8, at the same power, 325-350.
     
  16. tonyzackery

    tonyzackery Well-Known Member

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    +1.

    Anything less than maximum effort and you're not doing them correctly. At 150% FTP you're bascially just doing an L6 workout...I don't profess to be an expert on this protocol but I have done them and there is HUGE physical difference between doing them correctly and measuring your effort...
     
  17. frost

    frost New Member

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    Are you saying you could not reach 370w even in the first 20 sec? Sprinting all out?

    If you follow the actual Tabata protocol it is 170% of VO2Max not from FTP. Without formal testing your target power should be roughly 1.2 x FTP x 170% = 450w in your case.

    Also the workout is warmup, 8x20+10, cooldown. period. No SST or other intervals before or after.
     
  18. workingguy

    workingguy Member

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    I did reach 370 in the first 2, maybe even 450 with the first 2 if I tried it, but then I'd have nothing left for 3-8. For 3-6, I could barely manage 325. Which comes down to - is it more important to complete the 8 intervals, or do as many as you can @ 200% FTP (estimation from above), or somewhere in between.
     
  19. strader

    strader New Member

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    In one of the studies I linked to it says to do 7-8 intervals, and the later study says 6-7. As long as you are in the range of 6-8 I don't think it should matter. The important part is that you stress anaerobic capacity and VO2max.
     
  20. strader

    strader New Member

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    I only get ~10 TSS for the workout itself and ~20 TSS including warmup and cool down. That would result in a big drop in CTL over 6 weeks if it wasn't supplemented with some other workouts.
     
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